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Thursday, July 31, 2008

What Olmert has done to Israel

I thought that Yossi Klein HaLevi did a pretty good job of summing up how Israelis feel about their eventually resigning Prime Minister and his continuing scandals (Hat Tip: Suzanne B).
Olmert is the embodiment of what has been, for Israel, the year of scandal: a president accused of rape, a finance minister accused of massive embezzlement, a deputy prime minister found guilty of forcing his tongue into the mouth of a young woman soldier. Olmert, two years after assuming office and promising to make Israel a more "fun" place to live, leaves us a nation in shame. He went to war in Lebanon to restore our military deterrence and destroy Hezbollah's military capacity. Instead, he shattered Israeli self-confidence in our ability to defend ourselves, and empowered Hezbollah as the strongest force in Lebanese politics, with an arsenal three times larger than it possessed before Olmert's war.

Olmert is the first Israeli leader--perhaps the first democratic leader anywhere --to threaten his own country with destruction if it rejected his policies. Israel, he warned, is "finished" if it didn't withdraw from the West Bank. Yet in failing to defeat Hamas, he has insured the impossibility of a two-state solution for the foreseeable future, leaving us without a political or military option.

Perhaps Olmert's greatest offense was in debasing our public discourse with terms like "Talansky's envelopes" and "Olmert Tours," diverting our attention from the imminent nuclearization of Iran and the growing power of Hezbollah and Hamas. Instead of focusing on Israel's survival, we have been preoccupied with the melodrama of Olmert's survival.

Now comes the hard work of restoring sanity to Israeli politics. Neither of Kadima's leading candidates to replace Olmert--Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz--has the trust of the public. Livni is seen as honest but ineffectual, lacking minimal security credentials; Mofaz, though a former IDF chief of staff, is a lackluster politician with a credibility problem. (As a former Likud leader, he promised to remain in the Likud and immediately abandoned the then-sinking party for Kadima.)

Whoever wins in the Kadima primaries will almost certainly try to create a national unity government that will include the Likud. So far, though, the Likud is insisting it will remain in opposition until general elections are held. But that could abruptly change if Israeli military intelligence concludes that Iran is about to go nuclear--a threat whose neutralization requires the credibility of a unity government. The emergence of such a government will be the most telling sign that the country is beginning to heal itself from the tabloid scandals of the Olmert years and is now ready to restore Israeli deterrence by dealing with the Iranian crisis.
Read the whole thing.

Why is this man smiling?

Maybe this is why?

Norway to stop funding 'Palestinian Authority'?

Norway, one of the first and biggest supporters of the 'Palestinian Authority' (and Hamas), may stop all funding. Some Norwegian lawmakers have finally been convinced that the PA is fomenting hatred and isn't interested in 'peace.' What convinced many of them was this appearance by Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch on Norwegian television on July 6, 2008 and the clips he showed from 'Palestinian' television. Let's go to the videotape and then I'll be back with more.



My problem with this is that an astute observer could note that all of the examples in the video are from Hamas Television and that the Norwegians are supporting Fatah (they're also supporting Hamas, but that's beside the point). Of course, we all know that Fatah's 'official' media also glorify terrorists, but the Norwegians may well not know that. Although not shown in this excerpt, I hope that PMW showed the Norwegians that anti-Israel, anti-Western children's programming is not the exclusive domain of Hamas in the 'Palestinian territories.'

'Let Noxzema cream your face so Hamas won't'

Hamas has gone back to shaving off the mustaches of their political opponents in what appears to be a renewal of the Hamas-Fatah wars of last summer. You may recall that several months ago, the 'good terrorists' of Fatah were shaving beards off the 'bad terrorists' from Hamas in Judea and Samaria. Now the situation is reversed and Fatah doesn't like it very much.
The latest victim of the mustache-shaving policy is Nafez al-Namnam, a top Fatah operative in the Strip.

Namnam, 51, is one of the commanders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, in Gaza City.

He and his son Rami were arrested by Hamas policemen shortly after the mysterious explosion that killed five Hamas men on the beach in Gaza City last Friday.

The father and son were among more than 150 Fatah members who were rounded up by Hamas in the aftermath of the bombing.

Namnam wore an unusually large mustache for more than 30 years. But while in prison, his Hamas interrogators shaved it off before finally releasing him.

The Aksa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement strongly condemning the shaving of Namnam's mustache and threatening retaliation. It said that Namnam and his son were also tortured while in detention.
Heh.

Poll: Netanyahu would win election

This should come as a surprise to no one. If an election were held in Israel today, regardless of who leads the Kadima party, Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu and the Likud would win (Hat Tip: Memeorandum) according to a survey released by Channel 10 television just after Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert announced his eventual resignation on Wednesday night.
When those polled were asked to pick between Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for future prime minister, 36 percent said they preferred Netanyahu, as opposed to 24.6 percent who chose Livni. Barak was chosen by 11.9 percent of respondents, significantly less than the fourth choice "none of the above," which garnered 19 percent.

Netanyahu scored higher when Livni's name was replaced by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz in the survey, with 36.6 percent of respondents picking him, over 14.8 percent for Barak, 12 percent for Mofaz, and 27.4 percent for "none of the above."

Furthermore, when asked if they were happy with Olmert's performance as prime minister, 77.3% said they were not satisfied.
In a word, so what? As I have already explained, the likelihood that Netanyahu will represent a significant policy departure from Olmert and Livni is quite small. To date, Netanyahu has shown no interest in forcing the government out of power - which is what the opposition is supposed to do - and instead seems perfectly content to wait for the current government to take all of the necessary steps to surrender to the 'Palestinians' and the Syrians and then work with the results for which he will no longer be to blame. As he had hoped to do with the Gaza expulsion when he stayed in the government in the hope that one day he - and not Olmert - would replace Sharon.

Second, the odds are that there will not be an election for another two years and three months unless someone (Shas? Labor?) decides to bring down the government. Kadima's MK's - and probably Labor's as well - will do all they can to keep the government in power for the next two years because they know that if the government falls and there are new elections, many of them will no longer have the salaries and perquisites of Knesset members. And after all, wasn't the world created for the Knesset members? As David Hazony points out:
We learn two things from these polls: First: Israelis are really not interested in the current government, and are likely to punish not only Kadima but also their coalition partner, Labor. Second: for this very reason, both Kadima and Labor are likely to do everything in their power to keep the government going as long as possible. The key to Israel’s political future, then, rests, as it so often does, with the coalition’s third-largest party, Shas. And Shas is likely to milk its current position as political linchpin for all it’s worth.
Where have we heard that before?

And unlike Kadima and Labor, Shas' MK's are in little jeopardy of losing their seats if there's a new election.

More dangerous than ever

Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert may have announced his eventual resignation last night, but that certainly does not signify the end of the danger his government poses to the continued existence of the Jewish state. All his announcement does is make him a lame duck, but one who still holds the reins of executive power and who may continue to hold them for another seven months. During those seven months, Olmert could reach agreements (Hat Tip: Memeorandum) with Syria and the 'Palestinians' which - even if never ratified by the Knesset (and Israel has no constitution and no fixed in stone procedure for ratifying international agreements, such that arguably there is no need for Knesset ratification) and never implemented - could serve as precedent for the inevitable 'next' round of negotiations. Moreover, it is probable if not likely that some decision will have to be made on Iran during the next seven months (or less) and that is a decision that is most unlikely to be brought to a Knesset debate (think of how the attack on the Syrian nuclear plant was perpetrated last September - for those of us not in the Knesset it was like a sudden storm on a clear day).

For now, all the MK's on the right can do about it is to practice damage control by questioning Olmert's legitimacy even before he does anything stupid.
"The prime minister lacks the public or political legitimacy to continue with the negotiations," Communications Minister Ariel Atias of the Shas party told Ynet.

"From the moment he announced he was stepping down, he is only considered as the caretaker. What legitimacy does he have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians or with Syria that the next government would be bound to?"

Likud MK Silvan Shalom, a former foreign affairs minister, said that Olmert lacked the necessary directive to make concessions on Israel's behalf.

"This is a very serious problem. This could lead to (Olmert) making concessions towards the end of his term just so he will have an achievement to boast," said Shalom. [No kidding! CiJ]

Fellow Likud member Gideon Saar said it was the responsibility of the cabinet and Olmert's own party to prevent him from staging any dangerous underhanded diplomatic moves.

MK Avigdor Lieberman, a former minister in Olmert's cabinet and chairman of Yisrael Beitenu, also had harsh words for the prime minister's plans.

"It's sounds pathetic. The prime minister's speech was stately, conscientious and solemn. I suggest he refrain from ruining that effect. He doesn't have a majority in the Knesset, he doesn't even have a majority in his own party. He can't lead any process," Lieberman asserted.

Regardless of Olmert's announcement, a fresh round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria ended on Wednesday under Turkish mediation. And a fifth round is due next month, a senior source close to the talks told the Reuters news agency. The source described the talks, which had taken place at an undisclosed location in Istanbul, as "positive."
If Atias' view reflects Shas' view, maybe Shas will finally support a no-confidence motion to bring down the government? After all, even forgetting what Olmert might do between now and the formation of a new government, a Kadima primary may legitimize its winner for the several thousand Kadima voters who have the right to vote in that primary but it certainly doesn't legitimize the winner for the rest of us.

As to Gideon Saar (whom I know would love to bring down the government), I hope he really doesn't expect this government or Kadima to prevent Olmert from doing anything underhanded. Talk about trusting the bees to watch the honey!

The opposition cannot afford to sit on its laurels in light of Olmert's announcement last night. The government should be forced out now and elections should be scheduled as soon as possible. November would be great. If Kadima chooses to wait until September to hold their primary with elections in November, that's their problem.

Isn't it curious then that Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu has been silent about bringing down the government now? It is especially curious since two days ago, he took former IDF Chief of Staff Uzi Dayan into the Likud, to whom he has apparently promised the defense ministry (ahead of former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe "Boogie" Yaalon, from whom we have not heard in quite some time, and making it difficult to form a coalition with Kadima if former IDF Chief of Staff and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz wins the primary there). Dayan is one of those 'moderates' that Bibi talked about a year ago. Netanyahu is trying to take what remains of the post-Sharon Likud and turn it into a Sharon-style 'centrist' party. This is Israel Harel (token right-winger) writing in Thursday's Haaretz:
Dayan, as has been proven in previous elections, is not a major vote bringer. Moreover: Quite a number of Likud members, including those who strongly object to Netanyahu's wooing of reinforcements such as Dayan and Dan Meridor, will vote for the right-wing parties. Netanyahu probably knows that, and he does not expect a dowry of votes from these new members, but rather to strengthen the pragmatic wing, which is distancing itself from the Likud's traditional ideology.

Regarding Dayan's views on the main national issues, one can say that he belongs to the large and lukewarm camp that includes Kadima, the Labor Party (which he also considered joining, according to reports) and to a great extent, today's Likud as well. The differences between them are slim.

Dayan, the man behind the separation fence, still believes in it, as he said at the press conference. In his preliminary agreement with Netanyahu, the two also agreed that when the Likud comes to power, the fence construction will be accelerated. The main reason for the fence is political, rather than security-based - it divides the western part of the Land of Israel and leaves about 90 percent of Judea and Samaria outside Israeli sovereignty. Nevertheless, he promised to complete it.

The change, therefore, is not Dayan's, as his critics claimed, but rather to Netanyahu's Likud. The Likud head has taken another step to sever his party from the broader camp, with its ideology and its proven capacity to sacrifice and to realize its ideals. He is joining an admittedly larger camp, whose ideological vagueness has led its security and political path to fail for the past two decades. Just when the public has begun to recognize this failure, Netanyahu is embarking on the path of vagueness, which lacks a goal, and therefore lacks a clear destination, too.

When no ideology exists or remains, we get policy like that of the most recent prime ministers, who mostly reacted, while others - especially the terror organizations - initiated most of the moves to which Israel responded with weakness, hesitation, a high cost in human life, resources and a loss of reputation and deterrence.
Especially for those of you who wonder why my support for Netanyahu is lukewarm at best (and why I do not plan to vote for the Likud in the upcoming election), read the whole thing.

How Hamas is spending its summer vacation - Part 3

I don't know how things are in your part of the world, but finding summer camps for your kids really stretches the budget here. For starters, we pay school tuition twelve months out of the year (so that we don't feel how expensive it really is all year long), which means that paying for camp during the summer months means paying two sets of tuition. And try finding a summer camp that actually goes somewhere and does things. Most camps here are day camps, and parents put a premium on the camps that provide swimming most often. There are no beaches in Jerusalem (we're inland) and very few pools in the area.

But in Hamastan they don't have those problems. All you have to do to find a summer camp for your children in Hamastan is to choose your favorite terror organization. Hamas runs summer camps. So does Islamic Jihad. They run hundreds of them. And they're all free paid for by the 'international commuity's aid money. So come have a look at what your foreign aid money is buying this summer in Hamastan....
Hamas alone is currently conducting no less than 300 summer camps for tens of thousands of children, and the focus is on familiarizing kids with the Palestinian towns and cities destroyed in 1948, as well as instilling religious fervor in them. The camps also feature sports and military-type trainings such as crawling under barbed-wire.

Islamic Jihad has also launched its own summer camps, offering some 10,000 children activities similar to those of Hamas. The kids study passages from the Koran and participate in quizzes on religious matters, with emphasis on the required commitment to political prisoners and Palestinian land. They also learn how to hold a Qassam rocket-launcher.
Now I want to show you a picture from Al-AP that went with this article and tell you that Islamic Jihad, from whose 'camp' it was apparently taken told YNet that it's 'only' plastic:

Does that look like plastic to you? By the way, UNRWA is also running 'summer camps' in Gaza this summer, but the 'moderate' Fatah party is not because of its 'meager' resources (I guess $7.4 billion isn't enough money to run summer camps) and because of the 'limitations' that Hamas puts on it in Gaza.

As to the lettering on the rocket, I think it's supposed to say "Quds - 4" (Kuf-Vav-Daled-Samech-4) in Hebrew, but the top line of the Hebrew Vav was made too long and instead it says "Cards-4" (Kuf-Resh-Daled-Samech), which doesn't mean anything in Hebrew. Here's a Hebrew alphabet for those who aren't familiar with it:

One thing is certain: By the end of this summer, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will have hundreds more indoctrinated child warriors in the Gaza Strip. Just what we don't need.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Olmert won't run for Kadima leadership (liveblog)

Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert is about to announce that he will not run in the Kadima party primary to be held in September. He will remain Prime Minister until he is replaced by new elections or if there is a no confidence vote against his government and someone else (most likely the winner of the Kadima primary) succeeds in forming a new government.

UPDATE 8:03 PM

Olmert will read a written notice but will not take questions from the media. He is speaking at his official residence.

Summary of statement:

Olmert's complaining that people attempted to frustrate his policies from the day he entered office. No kidding.

The North is quiet and not under immediate threat (he's got to be kidding). He corrected mistakes. He's proud of what he did. The economy is stable. Struggle against poverty intensified. Education improved. Attention paid to young children. Unemployment declined.

He continues to believe in his heart that reaching peace, stopping terror and having a different relationship with our neighbors the most important thing. Bush's support a great help. On the day when peace happens we will all be amazed we didn't reach it sooner. As long as he's in office, he will continue to try to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion (oy!).

He has ultimate responsibility for decisions. He has great people in government. Never tried to take credit for them. The entire time he had to protect himself against leaks from people who tried to depose him from office - the end justifies the means. This has grown out of proportion.

He made mistakes during his career and he is sorry for them. But the picture in front of the public is not real. He has elementary right to presumption of innocence and he should not have to seek it by force. He understands that police and prosecution have to do their job and he's not above the law but not below it either.

It's a challenge to serve the country. No investigator has the right to determine whether he can continue to serve in office. Voters make those decisions in democratic countries, but not here anymore. So he has to do the personal accounting for all of us. Maybe today with his personal decision he is opening a window to a better reality. He has full and satisfactory answers to all of the accusations against him. Those who lecture him will have to face the truth one day. They know it well. Now the time has come for him to make a decision. He is not making the decision because he cannot fulfill his job and he believes he is innocent. But the charges against him come from people who are fair and honest and he cannot avoid it. His personal justice is less important than the public good and the pain to his family bothers him greatly. The public good is decisive.

He will not be a candidate in the Kadima primaries and will not interfere with them. He will accept their results. He is saying only a little of what he's had in mind for months. When there is a new head of Kadima he will resign from office so that the new head can form a new government. We have a great country. He loves it. He is deeply grateful for the privilege he has been given to act on our behalf.

UPDATE 8:48 PM

In summary, Olmert said he would resign as soon as the Kadima primary elects a new leader and that person forms a government. The Kadima election would be in late September. But if that person cannot form a new government, we would go to new elections. Olmert could remain Prime Minister until the new elections. That could be December or January - enough time to do a lot of damage or to attack Iran. Or to give the Golan to Syria in exchange for talking to him directly.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is currently in the US, said that Olmert should have reached the same conclusion six months ago (I would have said two years ago) and that Olmert's term in office has been 'a farce.'

By the way, the reason Olmert addressed the nation tonight is that Livni, her main Kadima rival (Transportation Minister) Shaul Mofaz, and Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak are all in the United States right now.

UPDATE 10:02 PM

The JPost updates on how long Olmert could actually remain in office.
Kadima's election committee decided on Tuesday to set an August 24 deadline to join the race, which it scheduled for September 17 [and if there's a runoff it will be September 25. CiJ].

The winner in the Kadima primary will have until October 26 to submit his new government for approval by President Shimon Peres.

In case the elected leader fails, the president customarily grants another 90 days to form a government [I would not be surprised to see a breach of custom here. CiJ]; after the 90 days are through, in case no coalition is formed, a general election is scheduled, thus potentially allowing Olmert to remain in power until March 2009.

After the primary Olmert will remain in office as prime minister of a transitional government, until his successor in Kadima manages to forge a new coalition or until general elections are held.
Olmert could be Prime Minister until March.

Olmert to make 'personal announcement' at 8:00 Wednesday

Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert will make a 'personal announcement' at 8:00 Wednesday night Israel time - a bit more than an hour from now. Speculation is that he will either announce his resignation or that he will not run in the Kadima party primary in September.

Heh.

Video: Obama's note stolen from Western Wall

There's been a lot of attention paid in the media over the last week to a note left in the Kotel (Western Wall) by Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama last Thursday morning. Probably a lot more attention than it deserves.

The note was published in Maariv last Friday and was picked up by the Los Angeles Times. When that led to a lot of outrage, Maariv claimed Obama had asked them to post the note. Then they claimed he didn't. If you follow all the links here, you should get most of the back and forth.

Now a video has surfaced on YouTube showing (or claiming to show) the note being stolen. Here's what the person who posted it wrote.
Seconds after Senator Obama steps away from the Western Wall in Jerusalem...

I am a freelance photographer/videographer currently living in Jerusalem. I have exclusive, high quality, close up footage of the moments following Senator Obama's placement of the now published note in the Western Wall.

Seconds after Obama left the stones, some of his entourage stepped up to the wall (dressed in suits) and I recorded a young man gathering notes in his hands in what appeared to be the search for Obama's freshly placed personal note. He is joined by others who unwrap notes and read them.

I know this video is potentially a great asset to you in the continuing coverage of this story.

Footage:
One minute forty of raw footage with sound, including the men walking up to the wall as camera follows, hands and people reaching and taking notes from different angles, and one person walking away from the wall with a note that he unwraps as he tries to aggressively block the camera lens.
But if you watch the video, the people sweeping notes into their hands don't really look like hired hands of the Obama campaign. They look like Yeshiva dropouts, or what's known here as Shabab.

Let's go to the videotape.

'For the sake of Allah' - Part 3

Here's the latest installment (there's one more) in the series of interviews with 'Palestinian' suicide bombers, their relatives and their dispatchers. I don't see how anyone who is not Muslim can make 'peace' with this.

Let's go to the videotape.



For those who missed them, Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

Wedding/Funeral for first ever female suicide bomber turns into sectarian brawl

Following are excerpts from a report on a Lebanese celebration of the "wedding-funeral" of the first ever female suicide bomber, Sana Mehaidli, known as "The Bride of the South," who detonated a car bomb near an Israeli military convoy in South Lebanon in 1985. The report aired on Al-Jadid/New TV on July 26, 2008.

Let's go to the videotape. A transcript follows.



Reporter: It all began in the Sin Al-Fil [neighborhood of Beirut]. Sana was present, and her comrades saluted her. For the last time, she breathed the air of Beirut and strolled through its streets, reaching the headquarters of her party [the Syrian Social Nationalist Party], where she met people she had left without bidding farewell.

The convey of "the bride" set out on the Al-Ouzai road to Khalde, where SSNP members were waiting to see her. From there, the pioneer of female self-sacrificing fighters left for the south, escorted by hundreds of cars, bearing flags of the party and of the National Resistance Front.

In Maghdouche, the town of the martyr Milad Saliba, Sana was wedded in a great ceremony. The band was playing in her honor, and the crowd was dancing. A bride, in her wedding dress, raised her gun above her head. The procession was showed with rice and roses, and sprayed with rose water. The church bells chimed in her honor.

In 'Anqoun, there was a crowded reception from balconies, from the rooftops, in the streets, and in cars. The Shiite seminary was packed when Sana arrived. The party chairman could not complete his address, because somebody decided to raise a flag of the Amal party from the podium, and a group of vandals began to destroy the place, leading some fo the participants to leave the premises. SSNP members protected Sana's coffin and the guests, while gunfire could be heard outside the seminary. After things calmed down, the SSNP members accompanied their heroic martyr to the village cemetery, where she was buried, amid continuous disturbances by the village youth, who were the only ones who did not appreciate the honor that Sana bestowed upon the village from which she came.
Heh.

Hezbullah seizes another Lebanese peak

Since DEBKA was out ahead of the game in discovering that Hezbullah had seized strategic Jebel Sannine in southern Lebanon, I'm going to bet that they got this story right as well.
As Iranian and Syrian radar and anti-air weapons officers settled on the strategic peak, our military sources report the Lebanese terrorist group proceeded to grab positions on the Western ridge of Jebel Barukh, east of Jezzine, a move which brings it closer to the Israel border.

...

Perched atop Lebanon’s two tallest mountain peaks, Hizballah, Syria and Iran are able to control most of Israel’s air space to the south and the heartlands of Lebanon’s Christian centers, as well as Mediterranean coastal waters.

Contrary to the picture presented by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee Monday, July 28 (“Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah is losing his self-confidence”), Hizballah is back in strength in the military enclaves circled in the accompanying map, where its war preparations proceed apace.

These enclaves are off-limits to civilians.

Scores of military bases have arisen around three main centers close to the Israeli border at Marjayun, Nabatiya and Hasbaya. Marked on the map are two lines of fortifications and large-scale concentrations of fighting strength:

1. One line is arrayed northwest of the Zahrani River to obstruct Israeli forces attempting to break through to Jebel Barukh and Mt. Sannine, as well as shielding the 10th and 14th Syrian armored divisions straddling the Syrian-Lebanese border opposite the Israeli positions on Mt. Hermon and Mt. Dov.

2. North-west of the first line, a long chain of positions is ranged across the breadth of South Lebanon, from Mt. Hermon in the east, up to Sidon on the Mediterranean coast to the west. It is there to block an Israeli advance on Hizballah-ruled Shiite centers.
Make sure to click on the link to view the map.

Five weeks or five years, Ehud?

Secret Iranian nuke plant to use human shields?

Elder of Ziyon reports on a previously undisclosed Iranian nuclear plant that is located in a heavily populated area of Iran. The plant's existence was disclosed by a Kuwaiti newspaper, and part of the article was translated by the Kuwaiti Arab Times, an English language newspaper.
A secret nuclear bomb manufacturing center at Al-Zarqan Area in Al-Ahwaziya Region, which was first established in 2000, was discovered recently, highly reliable sources told Al-Seyassah. Sources from Al-Ahwaziya claimed Tehran has started building a secret nuclear plant for manufacturing atomic bombs in Al-Zarqan Area near Al-Ahwaz City in southwest Iran and its border with Iraq. Sources said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not aware of this plant since it was not included in negotiations with Iran held in Geneva at the beginning of this month. Sources revealed Iran started implementing the project some time between 2000 and 2003, which led to the evacuation of a large number of Arab tribes from the area to Al-Zarqan. Sources added the Tehran administration vacated the location, destroyed all the houses, wells and farms, and started full implementation of the project in 2007.

Disclosing Tehran directed international A-bomb inspectors to other places, sources warned the project poses a very serious threat to international security. Sources affirmed the Iranian authorities built a three-meter high wall around the project site, which allegedly measures thousands of kilometers.

Sources added IAEA inspectors focused on other Iranian nuclear plants, such as Dour Khawain in Al-Ahwaz and Bu Shahri reactor, because the Iranian government diverted the international media’s attention from the secret nuclear plant. Sources asserted the Iranian government is currently working on another nuclear program touted to be more dangerous than Bu Shahri.

...

Jalaliyan has also instructed Kayafir not to recruit Arabic-speaking workers from Khuzestan for the construction of Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor. He said employees, including the administration staff, should all be recruited from the northern parts of the country. National Society for Arabstan State took satellite pictures of the location, which looked perfect for the construction of a nuclear reactor. It is near Karoon River which, sources say, will provide water for the project in addition to increasing the capacity of Al-Zarqan Power Plant. The site is more suitable for building a nuclear reactor than Bu Shahri, which is close to American bases and Dour Khuwain Plant located in an open area and an easy target. Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor is in the middle of very highly populated areas, making it a very difficult target due to a possibility that the Iranian authorities will use civilians as human shields.

Iranian authorities had also closed the main road between the plant and Karoon River to install main water pipes, sources added.
Read the whole thing.

As some of you may recall, at the six-power meeting with Iran that was attended by US representative William Burns in Geneva on July 19, the six powers gave Iran a two-week deadline to accept the latest package of 'incentives' to drop its nuclear program or to face further, tougher sanctions against it. Those two weeks are up this Saturday, August 2. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Iran to flinch, but the timing of this disclosure is quite fortuitous.
“If Iran takes one step back, the arrogant powers in the world would take one step forward,” said Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a sermon Wednesday, July 30. He spoke three days ahead of a deadline given by the six world powers for his government to give “a reasonable” answer to their incentives for suspending uranium enrichment.

“It is totally wrong and baseless to think that any retreat from our righteous positions would change the policies of the arrogant powers,” Khamenei said.

The deadline was laid down at talks in Geneva on July 19 between Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and diplomats from five powers in the presence of a US official. When Jalili arrived without an answer, the diplomats gave Tehran another two weeks to come up with a reply to the offer of a freeze on sanctions in return for a freeze on enrichment. Ayatollah Khamenei’s statement, broadcast by Iran’s national TV, may represent Iran’s final position.
Hmmm.

Waiting for the IAF?

In an exclusive telephone interview with Infolive.tv, M. (name withheld from publication), a resident of Gaza talks about life under Hamas rule, the recent violence and arrests of Fatah supporters by Hamas. "Everyone in Gaza walks around armed, people live in fear," he says. "Residents hope that Israel will bomb Gaza and that the people will be rid of Hamas rule once and for all," he says.

Let's go to the videotape.

Germany: 'Israel's security is non-negotiable for pork'

A member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has illegally pushed a 100-billion euro natural gas liquification deal through Germany's Export Control Office, in violation of worldwide sanctions against Iran, because the German firm that obtained the contract is located in his electoral district. In the process, the legislator - Hartmut Schauerte - has also violated a pledge made by Merkel before the Knesset in March that 'Israel's security is non-negotiable.'
"I've become an annoyance," boasted Hartmut Schauerte, a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member of parliament and state secretary for the Economics Ministry, in an article in the Siegener Zeitung newspaper about his efforts to secure a permit for the massive gas contract.

The Export Control office concluded after a 12-month investigation that plans by German engineering firm Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec to build equipment for converting natural gas to a liquid did not violate sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"Because the equipment would be built here and then sent to Iran, that work does not fall under any existing sanctions involving Iran," said Holger Beutel, a spokesman for the government office.

SPG-Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec will construct three facilities for the Iranians to liquefy natural gas.

Critics say politicized treatment of Teheran undercuts the CDU's stated goal to isolate the Islamic Republic. After basking in a showy celebration of Germany's close ties with Israeli politicians in March, Merkel said in an address to the Knesset that "Germany will push for further sanctions" on Iran, and, "This historic responsibility is part of my country's fundamental policy. It means that for me, as a German chancellor, Israel's security is non-negotiable."

A giant question mark now hovers over Merkel's much-praised speech to the Knesset.

"This business deal is not compatible with the words of the chancellor in the Knesset," and the gas contract should be rescinded, Dr. Johannes Gerster, head of the German-Israeli friendship society and a former CDU member of parliament, told The Jerusalem Post.

Merkel's CDU colleague Schauerte doggedly peddled his clout at the Export Control office to obtain the contract for SPG Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec; the firm is located in his election district in Sauerland, North Rhine-Westphalia.

"Without Hartmut Schauerte, nothing would have happened. We would still be waiting", said Bernd Steiner, chief executive officer of Steiner.

Export Control office spokesman Beutel told the Post Schauerte's lobbying activity was "exceptional," and that permit approval should be determined "independently" of political influence. The Export Control office has internal policies that, according to Beutel, prohibit "illegitimate influence."

When asked if Schauerte violated Export Control office regulations barring external interference, Beutel said there was an "internal review to examine all cases that are mentioned in the press."

Schauerte's personal assistant, Dr. Armgard Wippler from the Economics Ministry, told the Post Schauerte "does not wish to add any comments beyond what appeared" in the Siegener newspaper article.

Ulrich Wilhelm, who is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and spokesman for Merkel, declined to return multiple Post telephone queries.

The CSU is the sister party of the CDU within the Federal government.

...

The liquid gas contract comes at a sensitive time for Germany's efforts to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program. The French energy giant Total withdrew from all Iranian gas projects after Iran tested long-range missiles this month that, according to Iranian officials, would be aimed at Israel. Yet the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce organized a business tour in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin for an Iranian delegation in July.

Critics charge Germany with not stepping up the pressure to restrict trade to Iran, and affirm its historical responsibility to secure Israel's existence. Iran's genocidal policy toward Israel is testing, for many Israelis, Germany's commitment to the Jewish state.
Read the whole thing. Yet more proof that sanctions against Iran are a farce that cannot and will not ever work.

So much for that

Ten days ago, Iranian Vice President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei told a tourism convention in Tehran:
“No nation in the world is our enemy, Iran is a friend of the nation in the United States and in Israel, and this is an honor. We view the American nation as one with the greatest nations of the world.”
But in an interview with Hezbullah's Al-Manar Television on July 28, he changed his tune.

Let's go to the videotape. A transcript will follow.

video

Esfandyar Rahim Mashai: The Islamic Republic of Iran did not, does not, and will not accept the legitimacy of this Zionist entity. No Iranian citizen or party will ever accept this.

[...]

The world should know that the Zionist regime is plundering and illegitimate. Its existence does not serve the interests of humanity. It is harmful to everybody. The plundering Zionist entity is close to its end. In my view, this regime is dead, and they are only postponing its funeral, while others believe that it is only in the process of dying. In any case, the era of the so-called Zionist entity has come to an end. This entity cannot confront the believing men of Hizbullah. We have seen how it admitted defeat after 33 days of aggression. Following that defeat, it is now among the dead. Therefore, we now witness consecutive victories by our brothers, the resistance fighters.
To whom did he tell the truth? I'm going to venture to guess that he told Al-Manar the truth. Ten days ago he toned himself down for foreign consumption (after all, it was a tourism convention and the foreigners don't like to hear all that apocalyptic stuff). It's possible but less likely that someone else called him on the carpet for his comments ten days ago and he felt forced to retract them. But hey - they're just pursuing those nuclear power weapons because they need electricity. Right Mohamed?

Abu Mazen to dismantle the 'Palestinian Authority'?

'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen warned Israel last week that he will dismantle the 'Palestinian Authority' if Israel frees dozens of Hamas 'lawmakers' that it holds in prison as part of an exchange for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit.
Abbas sent the warning to GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni via Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA's civil affairs department, who is responsible for coordinating with Israel on anything involving the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Al-Sheikh, who told Shamni that this was a "personal message" from Abbas, stressed that the Palestinian leader did not speak merely of "resigning," but of "dismantling the PA."

Israel arrested dozens of Hamas politicians, including ministers and parliament members, shortly after Hamas kidnapped Shalit on June 25, 2006. Many have since been released by order of a military court, but about 40 remain in Israeli jails.

The message from Abbas was highly unusual, since publicly, he tries to portray himself as the leader of all the Palestinians - for instance, by repeatedly demanding that Israel release all its Palestinian prisoners.

...

Abbas evidently fears that the release of senior Hamas politicians in exchange for Shalit would strengthen the Islamic organization's civilian infrastructure in the West Bank.

According to an Israeli source well-versed in what is happening in the PA, publication of Abbas' threat to dismantle the PA if Israel releases the Hamas parliamentarians is liable to discredit him massively in the eyes of many Palestinians.

In addition, the source noted, this threat creates another obstacle to Israel's efforts to reach an agreement for Shalit's release.
There are some very strange things about this report. First, note that it is not sourced. The 'well-versed' 'Israeli source' only notes that publication of the threat would discredit Abu Mazen. But who published it? It was a 'personal message' from Abu Mazen to Shamni. Where did Haaretz get it?

I believe that Abu Mazen said this, but I certainly don't believe it was intended for publication. Has Haaretz decided to bring about the fall of the inept Abu Mazen?

Hmm.

US military option against Iran 'still on the table'?

Bush administration officials assured Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak (pictured) that a military strike against Iran remains a possibility to prevent that country from acquiring nuclear weapons, but it is not the preferred US solution (Hat Tip: Hot Air).
Bush administration officials reassured Israel's defense minister this week that the United States has not abandoned all possibility of a military attack on Iran, despite widespread Israeli concern that Washington has begun softening its position toward Tehran.

In meetings Monday and Tuesday, administration officials told Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the option of attacking Iran over its nuclear program remains on the table, though U.S. officials are primarily seeking a diplomatic solution.

At the same time, U.S. officials acknowledged that there is a rare divergence in the U.S. and Israeli approaches, with Israelis stressing the possibility of a military response out of concern that Tehran soon may have the know-how to build a nuclear bomb.

"Is there a difference of emphasis? It certainly looks as though there is," said a senior American Defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing the sensitive talks.
But DEBKA is reporting that if a military option is going to be exercised against Iran, it will be Israel exercising it and not the United States:
The United States agreed to link Israel up to two advanced missile detection systems against potential attack by a nuclear-armed Iran, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday night, July 30, at the end of his Washington talks. But US officials made it clear that, while prepared to help Israel defend itself against Iranian missile retaliation, they are determined not to be involved in any Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Washington would deliver within six months “before the new US administration arrives” in January, a powerful forward-based X-band FBX-T radar. Increased access to its Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites, which spot missile launches, would take longer.

By putting a time frame around delivery, the Bush administration holds off a possible Israeli attack on Iran for as long as possible.

...

The upshot of the Israeli defense minister’s mission to Washington for a boost to Israel’s military capability for a possible preemptive attack on a pre-nuclear-armed Iran was therefore the promise of hardware to give Israel more time to defend itself against Iranian missile reprisals.
The new systems will allow Israel to give its population five minutes' notice of an Iranian attack so that the population could reach shelters. An Iranian missile would take about eleven minutes to reach Israel. More details on the missile detection systems here.

UPDATE 8:33 AM

Pastorius is reporting that Iran is planning a nuclear strike on the US.
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and in remarks to a private conference on missile defense over the weekend hosted by the Claremont Institute, Dr. William Graham warned that the U.S. intelligence community “doesn’t have a story” to explain the recent Iranian tests.

One group of tests that troubled Graham, the former White House science adviser under President Ronald Reagan, were successful efforts to launch a Scud missile from a platform in the Caspian Sea.

“They’ve got [test] ranges in Iran which are more than long enough to handle Scud launches and even Shahab-3 launches,” Dr. Graham said. “Why would they be launching from the surface of the Caspian Sea? They obviously have not explained that to us.”

Another troubling group of tests involved Shahab-3 launches where the Iranians "detonated the warhead near apogee, not over the target area where the thing would eventually land, but at altitude,” Graham said. “Why would they do that?”

Graham chairs the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, a blue-ribbon panel established by Congress in 2001.

The commission examined the Iranian tests “and without too much effort connected the dots,” even though the U.S. intelligence community previously had failed to do so, Graham said.

“The only plausible explanation we can find is that the Iranians are figuring out how to launch a missile from a ship and get it up to altitude and then detonate it,” he said. “And that’s exactly what you would do if you had a nuclear weapon on a Scud or a Shahab-3 or other missile, and you wanted to explode it over the United States.”
Read it all.

'Palestinians' to be re-settled in other countries?

Now here's an idea whose time has come.

The JPost reports on a cross-party parliamentary caucus in the Knesset whose goal is to work with UNRWA to re-settle 'Palestinian refugees' and their descendants (and purported descendants) in other countries.
The move came amid a groundswell of parliamentary activity around the world, including in the US and Canada, to reroute funding from UNRWA - the UN body that deals with Palestinian refugees and their descendants - toward the resettlement of some of the refugees and their descendants in other countries.

The new lobby, which is chaired by MKs Amira Dotan (Kadima) and Benny Elon (NU/NRP), is made up of parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, including lawmakers from Labor, the Likud and Shas.

No Arab MKs have joined the caucus so far, although all non-ministerial members of the Knesset were invited to do so.

"I am not trying to change the Palestinian narrative, but to alter the state of mind of the refugees and their descendants," Dotan said at the inaugural meeting of the Caucus for the Rehabilitation of Palestinian Refugees.

"We have to see how we can work with UNRWA - not against UNRWA - on this issue," she said.
Not that I expect anyone outside Israel to join in this move, but at least it means that Israel may stop defeating itself on this issue. This country's history includes David Ben Gurion agreeing to Arab laborers staying here permanently and Moshe Dayan ordering the Israeli flag removed from the Temple Mount and begging the Mukhtar of Hebron not to leave when the latter asked for 24 hours to evacuate in 1967. The very fact that Israelis in a position of power are actually willing to stop preaching guilt and start trying to do something constructive is major progress in my book.

American, El Al to code share

It's official. Starting September 2, American Airlines and El Al Israel Airlines will be code sharing (placing their flight numbers on the other's flights).

I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Video: How Hamas is spending its summer vacation II

On Sunday, I reported the following jaw-dropping comment from Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on the truce that "I fear that a reality is being created in the south, which, in five years we'll be asking ourselves - How could we let this happen?"
Huh? Well if he realizes that's what's happening why the %$#@ doesn't he do something about it? He is still (unfortunately) the Prime Minister!

But it's as likely to be five weeks as five years....
In the following videotape you will see why five weeks may even be too long a time-frame. Let's go to the videotape.



This 'truce' was a really good idea, wasn't it?

/sarc

Bolton: 'Forget the League of Democracies - Make Israel part of NATO'

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who is a McCain supporter, has criticized two of McCain's more radical foreign policy proposals, and instead urges making Israel part of NATO (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
“I don’t think you can boot Russia out of the G-8,” Bolton said in a small breakfast with reporters at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. “You have to ask: How did they get there in the first place?”

Bolton also voiced skepticism about any new U.S. administration successfully promoting a League of Democracies to offset the power of the United Nations on international issues. “A League of Democracies is something worth pursuing,” Bolton said. But “I don’t see the Europeans joining because it would undercut the U.N…Ultimately, it will go nowhere.”

Bolton instead argued that the U.S. should promote an expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to include countries like Israel, Australia and Japan.
Come to think of it John, if NATO makes its decisions based on consensus, what do you think the odds are of its mostly European membership supporting Israel's admission to the club?

'AIDS is the result of conditions imposed by the big powers'

The craziest part about this is that there are people out there who actually believe him.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to the foreign ministers of the 'Non-Aligned Movement' at their meeting in Tehran on Tuesday. There are more 118 countries in the Non-Aligned Movement, and as noted earlier this week, Tehran is seeking their support to gain a seat on the UN Security Council. Here's some of what he said [pdf link] on Tuesday.
Consider the situation in Palestine:

The roots of the Palestinian problem go back to the Second World War. Under the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of that War, the land of Palestine was occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants; it was placed under the control of some of the War survivors, bringing even larger population groups from elsewhere in the world, who had not been even affected by the Second World War; and a government was established in the territory of others with a population collected from across the world at the expense of driving millions of the rightful inhabitants of the land into a diaspora and homelessness. This is a great tragedy with hardly a precedent in history. Refugees continue to live in temporary refugee camps, and many have died still hoping to one day return to their land. Can any logic, law or legal reasoning justify this tragedy? Can any member of the United Nations accept such a tragedy occurring in their own homeland?

The pretexts for the creation of the regime occupying Al-Qods Al-Sharif are so weak that its proponents want to silence any voice trying to merely speak about them, as they are concerned that shedding light on the facts would undermine the raison d'être of this regime, as it has. The tragedy does not end with the establishment of a regime in the territory of others. Regrettably, from its inception, that regime has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries, and has also been used by some powers as an instrument of division, coercion, and pressure on the people of the region. Reference to these historical realities may cause some disquiet among supporters of this regime. But these are sheer facts and not myth. History has unfolded before our eyes.

Worst yet, is the blanket and unwarranted support provided to this regime. Just watch what is happening in the Palestinian land. People are being bombarded in their own homes and their children murdered in their own streets and alleys. But no authority, not even the Security Council, can afford them any support or protection. Why?

At the same time, a Government is formed democratically and through the free choice of the electorate in a part of the Palestinian territory. But instead of receiving the support of the so-called champions of democracy, its Ministers and Members of Parliament are illegally abducted and incarcerated in full view of the international community.

Which council or international organization stands up to protect this brutally besieged Government? And why can't the Security Council take any steps?

...

Today, serious reform in the structure and working methods of the Security Council is, more than ever before, necessary. Justice and democracy dictate that the role of the General Assembly, as the highest organ of the United Nations, must be respected. The General Assembly can then, through appropriate mechanisms, take on the task of reforming the Organization and particularly rescue the Security Council from its current state. In the interim, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African continent should each have a representative as a permanent member of the Security Council, with veto privilege. The resulting balance would hopefully prevent further trampling of the rights of nations.
Al-AP quotes from what is apparently a different speech by Ahmadinejad:
While only infrequently mentioning the US by name Tuesday, Ahmadinejad made clear that he blamed Washington and its allies for trying to "impose their political will on nations and governments."

He accused the great powers of "fomenting discord .... to intensify the military and arms race" so they can feed their arms industries. AIDS, he said, also was the result of world conditions "imposed by big powers."

Accusing the UN Security Council of being a tool of the world's haves - which use them against the have-nots - he said it was useless to expect that body to be the solution to the world's ills.

"If the United Nations and the Security Council ... were supposed to deal with the problems of the world ... we would not have a problem called Palestine," he declared, in indirect criticism of the creation of Israel 60 years ago.
Actually, if the NAM destroys the UN, that may not be such a bad thing. The UN is biased beyond repair.

On the other hand, if the US is led by Bush or McCain, I cannot see a situation where it would continue to financially support (22% of the annual budget) a United Nations where it is just another vote in the General Assembly. If Obama's in charge, he just might go along with contributing 22% of the UN's budget and just having one General Assembly vote.

Kuntar: 'Sadat assassination was wonderful'

At least part of this video apparently comes from that 'birthday party' that Qatar's al-Jazeera threw for released child killer Samir al-Kuntar. But this little clip has to have the Egyptians and the Americans - among others - scratching their heads and wondering why Israel ever released this creep from his prison cell.

Following are excerpts from statements by released Lebanese terrorist Samir Al-Kuntar, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV and Al-Jadid/New TV on July 26, 2008.

Let's go to the videotape. A transcript follows.



Al-Jazeera TV

Samir Al-Quntar: To be honest, our operation had both civilian and military targets. Today, tomorrow, and the next day – our targets are always... There are no civilian targets – it’s “civilian” in quotation marks. The Zionists themselves define the Israeli as a soldier who is on leave for 11 months every year.

[...]

Interviewer: How did you and your fellow prisoners view the Sadat assassination?

Samir Al-Quntar: That was a most wonderful operation – to the point that all the prisoners cheered together when Sadat was assassinated. This man symbolized treason and apostasy. Ever since Camp David... Look at the history – Camp David, the 1982 invasion, and then the strike against Iraq... All the catastrophes that befell the Arab world began with Camp David. It was a wonderful historical moment, which I hope will recur in similar cases.

[...]

Al-Jadid TV

A country that has sacrificed such a long convoy of martyrs cannot stop at the gates of the Shab’a Farms, and say: The conflict is over.

[...]

This country will never be a playing ground for that ugly woman, the U.S. ambassador. One day, it will be written on the gates of this country: “No entry for stray dogs and the people of the American administration.”

Bankrupt?

Could it be that the world's largest recipient of foreign aid per capita with the expert suit-and-tie-clad businessman at its helm is going bankrupt? That's what the 'Palestinian Authority' is telling the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday morning. The reason for the 'bankruptcy'? No, of course it's not that they spent more than they took in. It's that they didn't take in enough. You see, many of the 'donor countries' - especially the Arab ones - haven't been ponying up their money now that a barrel of oil 'only' costs $126 instead of $147....
The officials told The Jerusalem Post that the PA wouldn't be able to pay July salaries to more than 150,000 public servants and may be forced to close down several government institutions as a result of the deepening crisis.
I know one place they could cut back - they could stop paying 'salaries' for all their 'employees' in Gaza who haven't come to work in over a year. At least 40% of the 'Palestinian Authority's 'budget' is spent in Gaza, which they do not even control.
The officials disclosed that the deficit in the PA budget has risen in the past six months from $1.6 billion to $2b.

"We are facing a real crisis," a top PA official told the Post, adding "we are on the brink of bankruptcy."

Another PA official warned that the financial crisis would undermine the PA and limit its ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

"We will lose the support of the Palestinian public if we stop paying salaries to our civil servants and policemen," he said. "This is happening at a time when Hamas is receiving large sums from Iran and radical Islamic groups."

PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad expressed concern that the PA could face a financial crisis if the donor countries, particularly some Arab states, failed to transfer to the PA treasury the funds they had pledged to donate at the Paris conference.

Fayad described the financial situation of the PA as "difficult," adding that his government was making enormous efforts to provide the necessary money to pay salaries to its employees.
As of January 2006, the 'Palestinian Authority' had some 140,000 employees, 58,000 of whom were employed in the 'security services.'
The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction [PECDAR] said Monday that the PA had received only $900m. of the $7.7b. promised during the December 2007 Paris Donors' Conference for supporting the Palestinians.

The money was promised to the PA over a period of three years by nearly 90 countries and international organizations during the Paris conference.

According to PECDAR, the PA was supposed to receive up to $3b. of it during 2008.

However, PA officials complained that that the donors had so far paid less than 35 percent of the promised sum.

The officials said they were particularly disappointed with the majority of the Arab countries for failing to meet their financial commitments toward the Palestinians.

"Most of the Arab countries are now setting conditions for providing us with financial aid," the PA officials said. "Some are saying that they will give us the money only after we end our differences with Hamas, while others are suddenly talking about the need for reforms and transparency in the Palestinian Authority."
What a shocking concept! You mean, even the Arab countries don't want to throw their money down a black hole anymore? I'm shocked. Just shocked. Call in the UN! They're always willing to throw money away! But get a load of this:
"The number of households in Gaza below the consumption poverty line continued to grow, reaching 51.8% in 2007, despite significant amounts of emergency and humanitarian assistance," the UNRWA statement said.

Meanwhile, poverty rates in the West Bank fell to just over 19%.

...

The report concluded that "Israeli-imposed movement restrictions in the occupied Palestinian territory, whose population is estimated to have grown by about one third since 1999, have resulted in considerable regression over the past eight years and remain the main barrier to economic recovery and development."
It doesn't sound like the 'West Bank' has regressed at all, does it? Hmm. Maybe if the IDF were back in Gaza keeping the terrorists in check (like they are in the 'West Bank'), Gaza wouldn't 'regress' anymore either.

Obama and the 'myth of linkage'

Noah Pollak, who inspired my very first post about Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama's foreign policy team, and who first alerted me to the existential danger this man poses to the State of Israel, has written a piece on Commentary's Contentions blog in which he shows how Obama has adopted what Pollak calls the 'myth of linkage.' Linkage is the notion that if only the 'Palestinian problem' were 'solved' (How? By ending the existence of the State of Israel?), the Arab world in its entirety would suddenly support American foreign policy goals. But 'linkage' is nothing but a mirage that is promoted by the Arab world and the US State Department to accomplish by diplomacy what they could not accomplish on the battlefield: Israel's destruction (Hat Tip: Hot Air).
In this worldview, the ineffectiveness of Arab states as U.S. allies is due primarily to genuine — as opposed to claimed — objections over the lack of American involvement in the conflict, as if America’s failure to “create” a Palestinian state is because 15 years of Madrid, Oslo, Camp David, the Road Map, Annapolis, and billions of dollars in foreign aid represent an insufficient dedication of resources to the conflict. In this worldview, Iran “uses” Hamas and Hezbollah to “stir up mischief,” a state of affairs which can be changed through a peace process. Obama apparently doesn’t believe that Hamas and Hezbollah are allied with Iran because all three share a very clear and unappeasable goal: ridding the Middle East of Israel and America. Does Obama really believe that Hamas and Hezbollah can be co-opted by a peace process?
Given that the hopelessly naive Obama still believes he can talk Iran out of continuing their nuclear enrichment program, it is entirely possible that he is foolish enough to believe that Hamas and Hezbullah can be co-opted by a 'peace process.'

Read it all.

UPDATE 1:25 AM

Martin Kramer points out that Obama was converted to being an adherent of 'linkage' by Jordanian King Abdullah whom Obama described as "as savvy an analyst of the region and player in the region as, as there is." Kramer points out that the same Abdullah has explained 'linkage' to the media before:
This same savvy King Abdullah, in a CNN interview the day after 9/11, offered up the ultimate linkage thesis, when asked whether the attacks would have happened if Israelis and Palestinians had reached a peace agreement at Camp David in July 2000:
I don’t believe so, because I think that if you had solved the problems of the Middle East, and obviously the core issue is that between the Israelis and Palestinians, I doubt very much that this incident would have taken place, and again, that was a reminder to all of us and why I think so many of us in the international community have been working so hard to bring a stop to the violence and bring people back to the peace process, because, in a vacuum, you do allow the extremists the upper hand and the chance to try things as what happened yesterday. And they will continue on trying until we can solve the problem once and for all.
Savvy indeed.
Anyone still need proof that 'linkage' is mythological? I didn't think so.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Terrorist's daughter wants Israeli passport

An 'Israeli Arab' woman living in Norway who was deported to Algeria when she was 15 as part of a 1983 'prisoner exchange' has asked for an Israeli passport so that she can 'move freely about the world.'
The woman was born in Israel and has an Israeli citizenship. Her parents, who are Arab Israeli citizens, carried out a series of terror attacks in Israel, and her mother was sentenced to long imprisonment over the murder of Victor Guetta in a market in the northern Israeli city of Afula in 1969.

The parents were deported from Israel in 1983 as part of a prisoner exchange deal, and have been living in Algeria ever since. Now the daughter, who left the country with them at the age of 15, wants an Israeli passport which would allow her to enter Israel and move relatively freely around the world.

...

Victor Guetta's son was furious Sunday when he heard of the request filed by the daughter of the woman who murdered his father.

"This is impudent and outrageous. The daughter of the terrorist who murdered my father will receive a passport and return to Israel?"

Shimon Guetta, 72, will never forget the day of October 6, 1969, when his 84-year-old father was murdered and dozens of people were injured as a demolition charge exploded in the Afula market.

"It was the day after Simchat Torah," he recounted. "I arrive at my parents' house, and my mother told me that father had gone shopping at the local market. I suddenly heard an explosion. When I arrived at the scene of the disaster, my father had already been proclaimed dead."

The next day, Shimon said, he heard that the terrorist would be brought to the market to reenact the attack. "I ran over there, and a policeman who saw me said, 'Don't worry, she'll get what she deserves.'

"Terrorists' families deserve no rights. What if they want to return to their village in order to murder more innocent Israelis? It destroys my life to hear this. My father of blessed memory was our angel."
The Interior Minister currently has the power to revoke citizenship of terrorists and their relatives - a power that has never been exercised. There is currently a bill pending in the Knesset that turn that power over to the courts.
Hundreds and perhaps thousands of relatives of Israeli terrorists live in the Jewish state and receive all the rights given to Israeli citizens. Although the interior minister is authorized to revoke their citizenship, this authority has never been activated.

The Knesset is now advancing a move that will turn over this authority to the courts. Interior Ministry Director-General Aryeh Bar said that "the law must be in favor of the State. Such requests raise the issue of Israeli documents and what they can be used for. This is why they are examined meticulously."

Last week, the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee approved for second and third reading a bill enabling the interior ministry to revoke the citizenship or residency of a person involved in a terror organization, taking part in terror activity, espionage, or treason, subject to the approval of a district court.
That bill makes it even less likely that the terrorists' relatives' citizenship will ever be revoked. The 'High Court of Justice' would bury the use of that power.

Jerusalem to become Sderot?

General Security Service head Yuval Diskin briefed the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday on the security situation in Jerusalem.
"Neighborhoods are being abandoned…and it leaves a vacuum where Hamas operates," he added. Smuggling of weapons has increased, and police find it more difficult to deploy forces in neighborhoods where the terrorist infrastructure has strengthened.
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter - a candidate for the Kadima party leadership - added to the gloom in that assessment.
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) pointed out that 20 percent of terrorist attacks in the past five years involved Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem. He explained that a dramatic change has occurred this year, raising a red flag through the direct involvement in terrorist attacks by Arabs who live within the separation barrier.
That's not too surprising, especially given that Arabs from Judea and Samaria have been moving into Jerusalem rather than live in the 'Palestinian Authority' - yet another reason why the 'security fence' is not an answer to all of our problems. Dichter continued:
Three attacks this year that resulted in the deaths of 11 Jews were carried out by eastern Jerusalem Arabs who acted on their own, without any apparent ties to an organized terrorist movement. "It is extremely difficult to expect and to prevent these types of attacks," Dichter noted.

He reiterated a view, becoming more acceptable among political leaders, that demolition of the homes of families housing terrorists and expelling them from the city are the most effective means of preventing attacks. The Public Security Minister emphasized that such moves must be thoroughly justified because they face the danger of being challenged by international law as a violation of human rights.
Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert responded:
"Whoever thinks the basic pattern of life in Jerusalem will continue as it is, with 270,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem, must take into account that there will be more bulldozers, trucks and private vehicles. There is no way to prevent such acts of terror. We must consider dealing with this issue in the future."
That's the same 'strategy' that has led to the current situation in Sderot and other communities in the 'Gaza envelope.' First, the Sharon-Olmert government abandoned the Gaza Strip to the tender mercies of the 'Palestinians.' Now, he and his good friend, sex offender Haim Ramon, propose to do the same to Jerusalem by abandoning the eastern part of the city. Then, when rocket fire increased, instead of sending the IDF into Gaza to kick the you-know-what out of the terrorists, Olmert looked for protection from the Egyptians, protection from the EU, and protection from an anti-missile system that would at best allow residents of the Gaza envelope to survive, but would not allow them to lead normal lives. Now, he proposes to do the same to Jerusalem, more than half of whose residents live within gunshot range of 'east' Jerusalem Arab villages.
Send in the clowns to Jerusalem? Why not - at least it's not Tel Aviv!

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