Saturday, May 23, 2009

'We'll go on building in settlements'

May. 23, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

"We will not follow American dictates. We will not halt construction in the settlements," Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Channel 2's Meet the Press on Saturday. Ya'alon was referring to the American demand that Israel halt all settlement activity, voiced by US President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during their meeting last week.

"Settlements are not the reason that the diplomatic process failed," Ya'alon said. "The settlements were not an obstacle to peace at any point [in the talks]. Even when Israel evacuated swathes of land, terrorism continued. Even when we uprooted communities, all we got in return was 'Hamastan'. This is why I suggest we think it over - but not with slogans or dictates."

The former IDF chief of staff emphasized that the government will not allow the establishment of new outposts, but clarified: "We will not halt the expansion of settlements which is a result of natural growth. There are people living here, raising their children here. We need to build homes for families' residence - it's not this which has prevented peace."

"What the US demands," he said, is "not a dictate. We'll see how they translate the statements into policy. Their envoy [to the Middle East, George] Mitchell will come, and we will talk to him. I suggest that neither the US, nor us, decide on a timetable in advance."

"From the banks of the Potomac, you don't always fully understand the situation, and here Israel's job is to help its ally," Ya'alon said, also criticizing dissent from within: "The dialogue in Israel presents us as peace objectors - the problem is within us."
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Yossi Melman / Obama quashed Israel military option against Iran

Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel's military option against Iran has died. The death warrant was issued courtesy of the new U.S. administration led by Barack Obama. All the administration's senior officials, from the president to his vice president, Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others are sending strong, clear hints that Israel does not have permission to strike Iran. Yet, given their familiarity with the Israeli client, they have not made do with simple hints and intimations. Washington dispatched the new CIA director, Leon Panetta, to Israel. Panetta made clear to Netanyahu, in so many words, that an Israeli attack would create "big trouble."

Perhaps Israel at one point had just a small window of opportunity to exercise the military option, or, in other words, the possibility of attacking sites in Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. This is assuming, of course, that Israel indeed has the military capability for carrying out such a mission - an assumption that raises many questions. This is a mission that requires gathering pinpoint intelligence, to identify the precise targets without harming thousands of innocent civilians.

Simply put, one of the targets of such a strike is the uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan, which lies in the heart of a congested civilian population. A realistic military option is also contingent on fighter jets finding undetected routes, as well as carrying a sufficient payload of bombs and missiles to inflict heavy damage on the targets.

Let us assume that Israel does, indeed, have a reasonable military capability which would enable it to strike at the targets, inflict heavy damage and set Iran's nuclear program back a few years. The opportunity to realize this capability arguably presented itself to Israel a few years ago. Iran at the time was subject to an intense international offensive. Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency repeatedly exposed its lies and levied sanctions against the Tehran regime.

Threats made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel from the map and his insistence on denying the Holocaust aroused great sympathy for Israel. This sympathy was buttressed by the Olmert government's willingness to hold peace talks with Syria and seek an agreement with the Palestinians. Above all, this friendly international atmosphere was backed by an accommodating Republican administration and a president who was ready to support (or to turn a blind eye to) any Israeli operation. In addition, Iran's ability to respond to an attack with missiles was limited.

But all this is now in the past. The sanctions are stuck. Ahmadinejad has, for the time being, softened his bellicose rhetoric. The production of Iranian missiles has doubled.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not ready to recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own, nor does he have any intention of holding serious negotiations with Syria, regarding withdrawal from the Golan Heights. This position reduces international support for Israel. Yet, most importantly, there is a new president in Washington, one who has outlined a new policy vis-a-vis Iran. He has announced the start of negotiations with Iran, and even though he mentioned that the talks will have to be concluded by the end of this year, he did not set a clear deadline. All these factors, including the explicit statements made by administration officials, put Israel in its place.

The supreme tenet of Israeli defense policy states that Jerusalem must not launch any strategic initiative that stands in contradiction, or places in harm's way, the clear interests of the United States. This stance has underpinned every fateful decision taken by Israel relating to matters of war and peace. Israel embarked on the Six-Day War only after it was convinced that the U.S. would not oppose. In the hours leading up to the Yom Kippur War, Israel refrained from launching a preemptive strike for fear that Washington would blame it for starting the war. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 only after Defense Minister Ariel Sharon came under the impression that the U.S. would view the move with understanding. During the first Gulf War in 1991, the U.S. did not permit Israel to respond to Iraqi scud missiles, and Israel obliged.

If this tenet remains the cornerstone of defense policy, then Israel once again will not act against the explicit wishes of the U.S. Thus, when Israeli leaders say that "all options are open," this is nothing but a dog's bark being louder than his bite. Or, if you will, a mouse that roars. If the U.S. does not alter its policy, then Israel no longer has the military option at its disposal - if it ever had such an option at all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Peace isn't Arab goal

Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | May 20, 2009

WHO FAVORS a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict?

President Obama does, of course, as he made clear in welcoming Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on Monday. So does former president George W. Bush, who began advocating Palestinian statehood in 2002 and continued until his final days in office. The Democratic Party's national platform endorses a two-state solution; the Republican platform does, too. The UN Security Council unanimously reaffirmed its support a few days ago, and the European Union is strongly in favor as well. Pope Benedict XVI called for a Palestinian state during his recent visit to the Holy Land, thereby aligning himself - on this issue, at least - with the editorial boards of The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. And, for that matter, with most Israelis. A new poll shows 58 percent of the Israeli public backing a two-state solution; prominent supporters include Netanyahu's three predecessors - former prime ministers Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Barak - as well as president Shimon Peres.

The consensus, it would seem, is overwhelming. As Henri Guaino, a senior adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, put it on Sunday: "Everyone wants peace. The whole world wants a Palestinian state."

It isn't going to happen.

International consensus or no, the two-state solution is a chimera. Peace will not be achieved by granting sovereignty to the Palestinians, because Palestinian sovereignty has never been the Arabs' goal. Time and time again, a two-state solution has been proposed. Time and time again, the Arabs have turned it down.

In 1936, when Palestine was still under British rule, a royal commission headed by Lord Peel was sent to investigate the steadily worsening Arab violence. After a detailed inquiry, the Peel Commission concluded that "an irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country." It recommended a two-state solution - a partition of the land into separate Arab and Jewish states. "Partition offers a chance of ultimate peace," the commission reported. "No other plan does."

But the Arab leaders, more intent on preventing Jewish sovereignty in Palestine than in achieving a state for themselves, rejected the Peel plan out of hand. The foremost Palestinian leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, actively supported the Nazi regime in Germany. In return, Husseini wrote in his memoirs, Hitler promised him "a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world."

In 1947, the Palestinians were again presented with a two-state proposal. Again they spurned it. Like the Peel Commission, the United Nations concluded that only a division of the land into adjacent states, one Arab and one Jewish, could put an end to the conflict. On Nov. 29, 1947, by a vote of 33-13, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine on the basis of population. Had the Arabs accepted the UN decision, the Palestinian state that "the whole world wants" would today be 61 years old. Instead, the Arab League vowed to block Jewish sovereignty by waging "a war of extermination and a momentous massacre."

Over and over, the pattern has been repeated. Following its stunning victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel offered to exchange the land it had won for permanent peace with its neighbors. From their summit in Khartoum came the Arabs' notorious response: "No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel."

At Camp David in 2000, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually everything they claimed to be seeking - a sovereign state with its capital in East Jerusalem, 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, tens of billions of dollars in "compensation" for the plight of Palestinian refugees. Yasser Arafat refused the offer, and launched the bloodiest wave of terrorism in Israel's history.

To this day, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, call for Israel's liquidation. "The whole world" may want peace and a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want something very different. Until that changes, there is no two-state solution.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at

Second Town Faces Demolition, Barak: No Connection to US

Maayana Miskin Barak: Demolition Not Tied to US
A7 News

After a day in which security forces destroyed the Samaria community of Maoz Esther and a second town received orders to stop building, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a speech Thursday evening denying a connection between the events and United States pressure. "This eviction has nothing to do with the Americans or American pressure,” Barak said at a Labor party meeting. “Israeli society owes it to itself to evacuate unauthorized outposts.”

"A society that wants to survive and to abide by the law cannot allow citizens to undermine the state's authority,” he added.

All unauthorized Jewish communities will be quickly dismantled, Barak warned. Security forces will continue to demolish buildings that were built without permission, he said.

The year and a half-old town of Maoz Esther in Samaria was destroyed on Thursday morning, shortly after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned from meeting with United States President Barack Obama in Washington. During Netanyahu's stay, American officials called on Israel to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria and to demolish unauthorized communities.

Residents of Maoz Esther began to rebuild their homes shortly after security forces left the area.

Also on Thursday, state officials announced that the IDF Civil Administration had issued orders forcing a halt to construction of 11 homes in the town of Neve Tzuf, in the Binyamin district. The orders were issued in response to an appeal from Peace Now, which labeled the buildings illegal.

Comment: Yes Mr. Barak you are correct when you say “Israeli society owes it to itself to evacuate unauthorized outposts.”

"A society that wants to survive and to abide by the law cannot allow citizens to undermine the state's authority,” he added. the difficulty with your rhetoric it is only aimed at Jewish Israelis. You do not engage in the same rhetoric nor the same actions when Arabs build illegally and there are far more of these illegal buildings than any Jewish number. Please reconcile your hypocrisy!


Minister from the right: MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union): "Netanyahu must fire Barak. It's true that Netanyahu makes the sounds of a Prime Minister, but the one dictating policy on the ground is Defense Minister Barak." Avi Roeh, who heads the Binyamin Regional Council, arrived at the site shortly after the destruction, and promised, "Meoz Esther will be rebuilt and will be even larger than before." Outspoken right-wing Israeli Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad said that what he took away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama on Monday was that America is on its way to abandoning the Jewish state.

Speaking to Israel National News, Eldad stressed that Obama had insisted on a deadline-free negotiating process with Iran, despite Netanyahu explaining that a nuclear-armed Iran poses a very real existential threat that Israel cannot accept.

Obama's position essentially means that while the US would prefer for Iran not to go nuclear, it is willing to accept that outcome, said Eldad, adding, "Israel will have no choice but to destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities with all the means at its disposal, be the price what it may."

Netanyahu had hoped to convince Obama that while the Israeli-Arab conflict had been going on for decades, the Iranian nuclear crisis is a game-changing issue that must be dealt with independently and immediately.

Thank you Israel Lives

Obama, Israel’s Great Friend?

Robert Spencer
Human Events
Posted 05/21/2009 ET

During their press conference Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Barack Obama a “great friend of Israel” and a “true friend of Israel” and thanked him for “your friendship to Israel and your friendship to me.” He also praised Obama as a “great leader: a great leader of the United States, a great leader of the world.” Netanyahu sounded like a man who was trying to convince himself of something -- and after Obama’s performance at the press conference, that was understandable Obama, for his part, was far less effusive, praising Netanyahu’s “political skills” and saying that he was confident the prime minister would “rise to the occasion” as he would be “confronted with as many important decisions about the long-term strategic interests of Israel as any prime minister that we’ve seen in a very long time.” He declared, as if his solicitude for the Palestinians was quite understandable but that his concern for the Israelis was unusual, that it was “in the interests not only of the Palestinians but also the Israelis and the United States and the international community to achieve a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security.”

Obama then noted, correctly, that “we have seen progress stalled on this front.” But just as he has consistently acted since he has been President as if the conflict between the U.S. is entirely the fault of the U.S. and within America’s power to end, so he seemed to assume that it was entirely up to Netanyahu and Israel to get progress moving toward this vaunted two-state solution: “And I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure.”

To be sure, Obama did say that “there is no reason why we should not seize this opportunity and this moment for all the parties concerned to take seriously those obligations and to move forward in a way that assures Israel’s security, that stops the terrorist attacks that have been such a source of pain and hardship, and that we can stop rocket attacks on Israel, but that also allows Palestinians to govern themselves as an independent state that allows economic development to take place, that allows them to make serious progress in meeting the aspirations of their people.”

However, while calling upon Netanyahu to rise to the occasion, Obama issued no similar call to Palestinian Arab leaders. Yet the weekend before Obama met with Netanyahu, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is a significant presence in the West, repeated that it would never recognize Israel’s right to exist -- in other words, it is still dedicated to Israel’s total destruction. Hamas chief Khaled Meshal said Saturday also that Hamas would never accept a two-state solution, either.

And what if it did, anyway? The PLO’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, said last month that “with the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made -- just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.”

Is this the kind of attitude that Obama wants to encourage? Certainly if he doesn’t, he has done nothing to discourage it.

And his take on Iran is no better. Obama declared Monday that “it is in U.S. national security interests to assure that Israel’s security as an independent Jewish state is maintained.” But in speaking of Iran’s nuclear threat, he said that he wanted Iran to be “in a position to provide opportunities and prosperity for their people, but that the way to achieve those goals is not through the pursuit of a nuclear weapon” -- as if Iran is pursuing nukes to alleviate some economic distress than can be relieved in some other way. Fanatical Shi’ite messianism and genocidal hatred for Israel? Nothing that a few good talks can’t cure!

Responding to a reporter’s question, Obama also said: “Well, it’s not clear to me why my outstretched hand would be interpreted as weakness.” But it isn’t just reporters who see it as weakness, it is the Iranian mullahs, who have stepped up their demands and ratcheted up the bellicosity of their rhetoric considerably since Obama has been in office. If Obama is really Israel’s “great friend,” and the standard-bearer of the free world against the global jihad, he will take note and adjust his course now, before it is too late.

Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)", "The Truth About Muhammad," and "Stealth Jihad" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

No Holds Barred: Netanyahu must find mettle to resist Obama's pressure

Shmuley Boteach , THE JERUSALEM POST

On October 23, 1998 - a Friday - I sat in a London hotel with Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, a world authority on Jewish history, as his son Binyamin, the prime minister of Israel, signed the Wye River accords. The professor, the patriarch of a family of heroic sons who nobly serve the Jewish state, including Yoni who fell at Entebbe, had been my guest at Oxford, lecturing to students on the Spanish Inquisition. It was clear that this famous Jabotinskean defender of Greater Israel was pained by his son's actions. He told me that, given the immense pressure from then-president Bill Clinton, his son had no choice but to capitulate and forfeit land to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

Now, 11 years later, Binyamin Netanyahu is again prime minister, and he is no doubt about to face the same pressure from a new American president as he travels to Washington to meet Barack Obama. I first met the prime minister when as Israel's young deputy foreign minister he accepted my invitation and electrified audiences of thousands of Oxford, most of whom were hugely hostile to him.

Over that and subsequent visits, I discovered that Netanyahu is a Jew of immense pride and an orator of unequalled power. Contrary to the constant press billing of him as "a hardliner," at Oxford he went out of his way to court the Arab and Jewish students who came to heckle him and managed to befriend more than a few. His message was consistent.

The only hope for Middle East peace was Arab democratization. He repeatedly cited the unassailable fact that in the history of the world no two democracies had ever gone to war against one another. If there was to be Middle East peace it would have to come not from Israel, a liberal democracy, making territorial concessions when it was already the size of a postage stamp, but from the Arab world liberating their citizens from political tyranny and the Palestinians ceasing to teach their children that Israel is a cancer that must be eradicated.

SO WHAT changed at Wye? We all know the answer. With the sole exception of Yitzchak Shamir, every one of Israel's most recent prime ministers has caved to incalculable American and international pressure to exchange "land for peace." In every instant the surrender was catastrophic, providing Israel with neither peace nor respect. Menachem Begin allowed Jimmy Carter to bully him into the Camp David accords. Yet Carter today accuses Israel of apartheid and Egypt exports more anti-Semitism than almost any nation on earth.

The Oslo accords are the greatest self-inflicted wound by any nation over the last fifty years. Oslo gave us the suicide bomber which gave us Israel's fence which gave us the condemnation of Pope Benedict last week in Bethlehem.

And where is Israel after all these concessions? It is arguably the most hated and most vulnerable nation on earth. So hated is Israel that when the Iranian president broadcasts his intentions to destroy it, no other nation has the decency to break off diplomatic relations; Netanyahu himself is reduced to supplicating the pope, whose Vatican enjoys full diplomatic relations with Iran, to condemn Ahmedinejad's promise of another holocaust.

LAST JUNE I watched a compelling candidate Obama address AIPAC and say that he would get involved in the peace process "from the start of my Administration." But did that mean pressure on Israel from day one? This year I heard Rahm Immanuel say that the solution to Iran's bellicosity lies in progress in Israel's peace process with the Palestinians.

Come on, Rahm. Say it ain't so. Surely you realize that it's not Israeli intransigence which is responsible for the mess in the Middle East; the fault lies with Arab leaders who have oppressed their people and denied them democracy and human rights for more than half a century and have successfully scapegoated Israel as the source of Arab suffering. This week Netanyahu has the opportunity to marshal his stunning eloquence to set the record straight.

He can begin by responding to Pope Benedict's criticism of Israel's security fence and recent war in Gaza. Surely it's a little rich for a man who travels around in a bunker-on-wheels to condemn Israel for protecting its citizens. If Israel had Canada as a neighbor, it wouldn't need a fence - just as if the pope only spoke to nuns he would not need a traveling fortress. No doubt we Americans would prefer to forego the intrusive security at our airports. But we submit to the inconveniences because we don't take kindly to the sight of our citizens leaping from burning skyscrapers.

As for Gaza, the pope himself witnessed the ravished state of Germany after the Second World War. But he would presumably not blame the demolition in Berlin, Hamburg, and Dresden on the allies but on the German people themselves who democratically elected a genocidal maniac as their leader and then dragged the world into history's bloodiest war. He could have warned the residents of Gaza that in Hamas they similarly elected a terrorist organization, sworn to Israel's destruction, as their leaders and that there are consequences to using one's territory as a launching pad for murderous rockets.

In our age some religious leaders make the mistake of believing that morality always involve love but never hatred, an embrace of victims but never a revulsion of their oppressors. My Christian brothers especially quote Jesus as saying, "Love your enemies," as a teaching against hatred. Little do they focus on Jesus' precision in saying "your enemies," rather than "God's enemies." Your enemy is the man who steals your parking space. God's enemies are terrorists who murderer His children. Rather than perpetuating the myth of Arab victimhood, Western leaders, the pope included, should call on our Islamic brothers and sisters to restore Islam to its historical grandeur as a religion that once embraced the Jewish refugees of the Spanish Inquisition when they were expelled by Catholic princes who betrayed Christianity by preaching violence in God's name.

Rabbi Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values Network. He can be followed on Twitter at ORabbiShmuley.'
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NGO: PA lying about Jews' ties to J'lem

Etgar Lefkovits , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Palestinian Authority has unleashed an "unprecedented barrage of lies" negating Judaism's connection to Jerusalem, as part of a ongoing campaign to undermine the Jewish connection to the capital, an Israeli media watchdog group said on Thursday.

"Jerusalem is presented as a Muslim city, with no regard for historical reality," the Palestinian Media Watch report said. "Mention is made of the importance of Jerusalem for Christians, but Judaism has no place in the city." The report, which was made public as Israel celebrated the 42nd anniversary of the reunification of the capital, cites top Muslim religious leaders in the city, ministers from the Fatah-run PA government in the West Bank as well as official Palestinian television denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

Recently, Palestinian leaders have been defining all of Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, as land which Muslims have a religious obligation to hold on to, and which must be liberated for Islam, the report found.

In addition, the PA is continuing to pursue an "alarmist" campaign of "denunciation and demonization" by presenting as fact the "incendiary libel" that Israel is trying to destroy the Aksa Mosque as part of a "Judaization" of the city, the report said.

The report includes an array of recent, inflammatory Arabic-language quotes by senior Palestinian officials and religious leaders, translated into English.

"This indoctrination, repeated regularly by the PA leadership, is creating a passionate religious-based hatred among Palestinians that will blow up eventually into even more Palestinian violence," said Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

"The Proof is Here"

Arlene Kushner

The proof that the Palestinian Authority is not really working toward a state, that is.

I wrote yesterday about Palestinian Arab objections to Obama's plan to give the holy sites of Jerusalem to the UN for supervision. Today there is more.

Elements of Obama's plan, which he is going to announce in Cairo next month, have been leaked. PA officials have expressed surprise, as they weren't told anything by the Obama administration. (Abbas is scheduled to meet with Obama soon.) But now that they've seen the plan, they are voicing objections, maintaining that some portions of the proposal are completely unacceptable. Those portions are: resettling Palestinian refugees in Arab countries, swapping lands between the future Palestinian state and Israel (which would allow retention of some settlements in exchange for land elsewhere), creating a demilitarized state, and granting the Old City of Jerusalem the status of an international city.

Said one PA official: "The Palestinian position on these issues is very clear. We insist on the right of return for all refugees on the basis of UN resolution 194, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with all of East Jerusalem, including the Old City, as its capital."

As to demilitarization and an exchange of land with Israel, these suggestions had previously been rejected.


So what we see is a total rigidity. No compromise, no flexibility. This stance -- when they know full well that there are elements of their demands that Israel will never accept, such as return for all refugees and relinquishment of the Kotel to Arab control -- signals clearly that achievement of a state is not their primary goal.

This tells us that, for all the rhetoric, there will be no "two state solution."


What I wonder is, how long it will take Obama to realize this. Not that he would publicly admit failure in his efforts, of course. He'll slog on, just as Condoleezza Rice did in her time. But how long will it take him to internalize the fact that the obstacle is the PA, and that he can't fix things. Here's a guy who is willing to play with them, who is viscerally on their side, who called their leader first after being inaugurated. And even for him they are not prepared to bend.

Or, put another way, they are not permitted by their ideological stance to bend. Which means their ideology is focused, ultimately, on such matters as an all-Muslim Palestine from river to sea.


A quick word about the claim that UN resolution 194 gives all the "refugees" the "right" to return. It does no such thing. For starters, it is a General Assembly resolution, and GA resolutions have no standing in international law -- they are only recommendations. There is no "right of return."

For a bit more information, see:


One other factor should be mentioned here. For a long time we've been hearing with full and distinct clarity what the PA demands are. It's a litany, and we all know it: return of refugees, Jerusalem as a capital, etc. etc. But until now there has been no litany on our side -- no delineation of what the red lines are for us. With Olmert all we got was a rush to show the other side, ad nauseum, how much we could bend to please them and thus make "peace" possible.

With the Netanyahu government now, I have hope that this is changing. We must be recognized as a Jewish state. We will not divide Jerusalem. We demand parameters that provide for security. Stating these positions for all the world to hear, over and over with consistency, would make a real difference.


Pressure is continuing on us to freeze all settlement growth. Clinton, in a statement on Al Jazeeera, has stated unequivocally, "All types of construction must stop."

The only construction being done in settlements (I prefer to say communities) in Judea and Samaria now are on the basis of tenders issued late last year. If further permits to build are not issued, construction will halt soon.

Netanyahu has not yet committed to a cessation of building, and it is to be hoped that he won't. This is a critically important issue that involves several factors. One is the question of where construction would be done -- our government's position being that it should continue in major settlement blocs which we intend to retain. This is what's key: it's a declaration of our intention to not, under any circumstances, move back to pre-'67 lines. Then there is a distinction being made between natural growth -- which means additions for growing families, etc., and additional growth, which means construction for new people to move into the communities. In both instances, the borders of the communities would not be extended -- growth would be internal.

I have it from an impeccably reliable source that certain key members of the Netanyahu government are saying they want to see both sorts of construction sustained.


Netanyahu has announced that four working groups with the US have been established: on Iran, strategic issues, diplomatic process and bringing in other Arab countries.

The Washington Times, in an exclusive with regard to the group on Iran, said it would provide the "U.S. a clear channel for communicating with the new Israeli government and a vehicle for keeping tabs on any military contingency plans Israel might make if diplomacy fails." This group "would begin to examine contingency plans now in case Iran continues a nuclear weapons program." The Times suggests that this group might be a vehicle for renewing Israeli requests for certain equipment, such as bunker busters, that were left pending at the end of the last administration.

Netanyahu has made a statement, not clarified, regarding "strategic agreements" between Israel and the US that have been reapproved by Obama.

It is altogether unclear to me at this point whether there will be discussion on settlements within the strategic arrangements group.

Work within the groups has already begun.


The greatest impediment to government policies with regard to settlements is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has been carrying on about illegal outposts.

Today security forces demolished a small outpost called Maoz Esther outside of Kochav Hashachar in Samaria. A resident of the outpost -- which is named for a victim of terror -- said 40 people lived there and would begin rebuilding immediately. This is not the first time that this outpost has been taken down by authorities and put up again. More power to those who have the courage and staying power to do this!


The thought that immediately occurs, of course, is that this may be a good-cop/bad-cop routine with Barak playing bad-cop within the new government. Perhaps. Today's demolition very much seems a sop of sorts to Clinton's demand. Haaretz certainly thinks this is the case -- the price Netanyahu agreed to pay in return for some Obama statements on Iran.

But it also is a direct expression of Barak's own ideology. He is mightily frustrated by Netanyahu's refusal to say "two-state solution." And Barak himself has come out with a statement that what he did at Maoz Esther had nothing to do with the US, but was how a nation of law had to function with regard to illegal building. If truth be told, Barak did precisely the same thing before.

I've already cited the fact that other members of the government, including one influential minister, are solidly in favor of continuing the building in the settlements. So I don't believe the situation can be summed up simplistically. We need to watch it.

Head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, called Maoz Esther a "puny outpost," and its demolition a "public relations exercise." This tells us something, perhaps.


My own ideology would oppose taking down a single building. But -- unlike some purists who write to me -- I have a pragmatic streak as well, and recognize that we're operating in a tough situation. If taking down a couple of small outposts gives Obama the cover he needs to say that there is "progress," and then we proceed with other actions that protect our larger interest here, or secure statements from Obama that are helpful, this will hardly be an unbearable price to pay.

The trick is to avoid that slippery slope, so that we don't end up conceding so much that it becomes an unbearable, or even unacceptable, price. And vigilance is the watchword.


Surprisingly, and undoubtedly at Obama's urging, Netanyahu has agreed to begin negotiations with Syria. Cannot say this is a pleasing piece of news. However, he clarified that there would be no conditions going in, and Assad has repeatedly said that he'll negotiate only if we agree in advance to give back the Golan. If this commitment is not made, he may not agree to sit with us in any event. And this exposes Syria's lack of good intent.


Good news is that the US will provide the funding for the development and production of the Arrow 3 anti-missile system -- which will take on longer range missiles than the Arrow system currently in use here. It will be able to intercept missiles at a higher altitude and greater distance from Israel than the current system.

There has been concern here that with the economic crisis in the States, this program would be abandoned. But it has turned out to not be the case.


My friends, I dropped the ball yesterday and must issue a correction. I wrote about the many members of Congress who recently supported us by sending Obama a letter that said, "peace cannot come while terrorism continues to wrack Israel.”

This is true enough, but everything is in the spin. And the spin in the news article from which I drew this blinded me to the larger context. The letter sent to the president was one of the letters endorsing a two state solution that had been actively promoted by AIPAC. The message more broadly was that the two-state solution wouldn't be possible until terrorism stopped. Not good enough.


"The Good News Corner"

At official ceremonies today marking Yom Yerushalayim, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:

"Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided."

A clear and powerful message.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat then reiterated this:

"With the world examining us let it be said here: We will never divide Jerusalem."

Amen and Amen.

My Discontented Pro-Terrorist Palestinian Intellectual Friend


20 May 2009 03:59 PM PDT
Today in pondering the mess that is the Middle East, and epecially Arab politics within it, and especially Palestinian politics within that, I was startled to realize that today is roughly the anniversary of a conversation.

Almost precisely 35 years ago I was standing on a balcony in Beirut, Lebanon, with Hisham Sharabi, one of my professors in college, a Palestinian and a strong supporter of Naif Hawatmeh's Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). It was a small terrorist group that was part of the PLO and which prided itself on being really Marxist as compared to the nationalist Fatah and radical Arab nationalist Popular Front.

We were out of earshot of anyone else and I asked Sharabi about the possibility of peace in the future and whether Palestinians would ever search their consciences about the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians. Sharabi sighed and said, as closely as I can reproduce his words:

"Many things that have done have been disgraceful. And one day I believe that Palestinian intellectuals will publicly denounce these actions and the movement will become moderate and democratic."

He never made such a speech or wrote such an article.

After all, here was a great man, a student of French philosophy and advocate of major social reform who wrote a monograph arguing that Israel was lying by underestimating its real casualties at the hands of the PLO. The methodology was to go through Israeli newspapers and count up all the obituaries of men between the ages of around 18 to 40. The assumption was that Israel was merely pretending that they had died in traffic accidents or disease when actually they had been shot down by heroic Palestinian warriors.

On this issue, rationality was--and is--suspended. Insanity reigns. And even the best are both participants and victims.

Sharabi did have a brief romance with the peace process in the early 1990s--he always had a strong distaste for Yasir Arafat--and even visited Israel to see his pre-1948 neighborhood here. But this mood didn't outlast a few months. Soon he was back making propaganda for the movement. In our last talk before his death, he was still trying to convince me that Israel would be better off negotiating with small Marxist and radical groups than with Arafat.

He was right about Arafat but wrong about the groups.

Here we are a third of a century after that conversation predicting--and wishing?--that the movement would take a sharp turn and truly break with its past. It still hasn't happened. I can pick up a Palestinian Authority newspaper, listen to a radio broadcast, or hear a mosque sermon and though there has been some change, it falls far short of a decisive break.

Over the years I have sometimes written and frequently contemplated writing my own versions of speeches for Palestinian leaders to make. "My fellow Palestinians, the time has come to lay down our old grievances--however just--and end the conflict in exchange for a state. Of course, all refugees should be settled in the new state of Palestine, using the compensation money that has been offered us. Instead of the dream of total victory we should have the reality of a country developing its culture and economy, working for the security and happiness of its people...."

But I can't write those speeches and neither can Barack Obama or anyone else.

The problem is not just that such a day of real transformation hasn't come yet but that it isn't in sight at all. This is the real tragedy of the Palestinians. This is the real reason why there is no--and is not about to be a--Palestinian state.

And until that transformation comes from within, all the world's statesmen and all the world's diplomats and all the world's foundations and conflict management phonies and experts cannot put it together.

PA Peace Plan: Iran to Share Rule over Temple Mount

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu PA: Share Western Wall w/ Iran
A7 News
Israel may find Iran as one of the administrators of the Temple Mount, according to a new Palestinian Authority plan reported Thursday by the Hebrew-language newspaper Haaretz. PA sources said giving up claims to the Temple Mount and handing over control to the 57-member Saudi-based Islamic Conference Organization is conditional on Israel’s agreeing to a final status agreement.

Iran, which is classified as Persian and not an Arab country, is part of the Islamic group.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has opposed agreeing to a new PA state without knowing ahead of time what it would entail.

The PA recently has escalated its propaganda campaign that disassociates the holy site from any connection with Judaism and claims it is solely a Muslim site.

A group of Arabs demonstrated at Shechem Gate in the Old City Thursday morning, shouting anti-Israeli slogans as Jews began celebrating Jerusalem Reunification Day.

Sovereignty over the Temple Mount, based in Jerusalem, has been one of the foundations for a new Arab country that the PA wants following the proposed expulsion of more than half a million Jews from Judea and Samaria, as well as from Jerusalem neighborhoods that were established after the 1967 Six-Day War.

The PA's official website as far back as 2005 rejected the Jewish connection with the Western Wall (Kotel), the remains of the wall that surrounded the Holy Temple area. Muslim legend claims that Mohammed tied his horse to the wall before ascending to heaven, even though the city of Jerusalem is not even mentioned in the Koran.

Writer Daniel Pipes several years offered one million dollars to anyone who can find the name "Jerusalem" explicitly written in the Koran.

The Israeli government initially ignored the PA propaganda campaign, but Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the International Department of the of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, warned in 2005 that the PA claims have “far reaching implications” for Israel.

Rabbi Richman said that the PA’s denial of the Jewish Temple's existence “is part of a campaign to totally eradicate, erase, and destroy all Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Jerusalem and the land of Israel.”

The PA incitement against Israel, which violates the American Roadmap plan, also attributes the 1929 Arab pogrom to Jewish efforts to claim ownership of the Western Wall.

The Islam Online website Wednesday re-asserted long-standing accusations that archaeological excavations at the Temple Mount are designed to cause a “real and immediate” danger to the Al Aqsa mosque. The latest charges were attributed to Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement’s Galilee branch and who has been arrested several times for incitement against Israel.

Sheikh Salah told the website he is certain Israel has a ”diabolical plan” to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque “in a way that would appear as is happening as a result of natural causes, such as an earthquake."

According to Islam Online, “The Israeli government, in coordination with powerful settler groups, began digging an extensive tunnel network throughout the Old City. Israel describes the tunnels as "tourist projects" that pose no threat to Islamic holy places, [bu Palestinians and some Israeli organizations, including the Israeli Committee against House Demolition, believe that the ultimate goal is to create a subterranean access route to attack Al-Aqsa and other Islamic shrines in the area.”

Obama and Israel

Palestinian statehood is a just objective, but Israel's security concerns are urgent

“Yes, we can” is not a message that translates well into Middle East diplomacy. President Obama met Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, in Washington this week for the leaders' first direct talks since they took office. Mr Obama urged a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Netanyahu responded that Israel was ready to resume peace talks immediately, but he pointedly refrained from referring to Palestinian statehood. He stressed that peace depended on the Palestinians' accepting Israel's permanent legitimacy.

The language is diplomatic and Mr Obama has been at pains to emphasise his sympathies with Israel. As a presidential candidate Mr Obama declared that Israel's security was sacrosanct and non-negotiable. There is implicitly but unmistakably a difference in approach between his Administration and the new Israeli Government, though. Mr Obama believes that progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace will increase pressure on Iran to curtail its nuclear programme. Mr Netanyahu argues that peace efforts must be advanced in concert with pressure on Tehran.

Against this background, American conservatives have suggested that US-Israeli relations are in danger of deteriorating to their worst state for 50 years. That is an alarmist and unfair aspersion on Mr Obama's credentials as a friend of Israel. These are clear not only from Mr Obama's campaign rhetoric but also from his foreign policy signals since taking office. He understands the hostile climate of Middle Eastern diplomacy. He knows the importance of Israel to Western interests and democratic ideals. He simply considers that Israel's security will be enhanced by a halt to the expansion of settlements and the achievement of a two-state accommodation.

On these broad principles, Mr Obama is right. The eventual achievement of Palestinian statehood is a just cause. And to satisfy the minimal requirements of both sets of legitimate national claims, a two-state territorial settlement between Israel and the Palestinians will almost certainly need to approximate the pre-1967 armistice lines.

But while Mr Netanyahu's diplomacy appears unyielding, his concerns are not groundless and may obscure an unexpected pragmatism. As Prime Minister in the late 1990s, he signed the Wye River agreement to cede territory to the Palestinian Authority. His warnings about Iran's nuclear programme, which is plainly not designed purely for generating electricity, are far from being alarmist. When President Ahmadinejad gleefully anticipates the destruction of the Jewish state, Israeli leaders have every good reason - geographically and historically - to insist on the urgency of the issue.

The shape of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is plain and Mr Obama is right to seek it. But Western governments have a tendency to believe that a two-state settlement is within Israel's power to effect by fiat. In practice, two states are not a solution to the conflict so much as the highly desirable outcome of the end of the conflict. Getting there will require greater trust than now exists between the protagonists, and between the new US Administration and Israeli Government. Mr Netanyahu should be pressed on Palestinian statehood. But Israel has not only, in the customary demeaning phrase, a right to exist: it has a right to expect support against bellicose threats.
Comments by readers:There is a Palestinian State. It is called Jordan which has a 69% Palestinian Arab population. Jordan was created by Britain in return for favours given by the Hashemites of Saudi Arabia on land annexed from the mandated territory designated by the League of Nations in 1929 for the Jewish homeland.

charley george, London, England

Israel has shown its willingness to resolve the issues - the offer rejected by Yasser Arafat went far beyond what could reasonably have been expected. The onus is on the Palestinians to accept Israel's continued existence and show the capacity to reach and maintain an agreement.

Faustino, Brisbane (ex-pat), Australia

A "two state solution" is a fiction. Who would run this Palestinian terror state? Why, Iran of course, through Hamas who will quickly usurp the dwindling remnants of "Presidentt" Abbas' authority.

California's Dependency Culture

George Will

WASHINGTON -- California, the sunny incubator of America's future, has relished its role as a leading indicator of political trends. Tuesday it became what it thinks it should be, the center of attention, but not in the way it wants to be. Its voters, at last sensible, rejected, by an average of 65 percent, five of six propositions. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the "post-partisan" Republican, and the partisan Democrats who control the Legislature, promoted the propositions as efficient for and essential to eliminating the state's budget deficit, which will now be $21 billion. So California may become the next target for the Obama administration, whose dependency agenda involves seizing every opportunity to break things -- banks, insurance and automobile companies, etc. -- to the saddle of its supervision.

The Orange County Register -- if but one newspaper survives today's leveling winds, may it be this one -- made the case for rejecting all six propositions: 1A would have created an illusory spending cap that could be "easily circumvented by raising taxes" -- and the ballot language did not mention that 1A would have meant a $16 billion two-year extension of some of February's huge tax increases. Proposition 1B promised the public school lobby $9 billion, effectively bribing them to support 1A, which the California Teachers Association did. Proposition 1C combined "two of the worst practices responsible for" the state's dysfunction, "rosy revenue projections and borrowing": It would have authorized borrowing from (hypothetical) increases in state lottery revenues. Proposition 1D, "one more hide-the-pea fiscal deception," would have transferred to the general fund -- and much of it on to public employees -- revenues raised for children's programs. Proposition 1E would have done the same for revenues raised for mental health services.

Proposition 1F, passed by 73.9 percent, denies pay raises to legislators when the budget is not balanced. The Register opposed this because it gives legislators "a personal, financial incentive" to balance the budget by raising taxes.

Now California's mostly Democratic political class will petition Washington for a bailout to nourish the public sector that is suffocating the state's dwindling -- and departing -- private sector. The Obama administration, which rewarded the United Auto Workers by giving it considerable control over two companies it helped reduce to commercial rubble, will serve the interests of California's unionized public employees and others largely responsible for reducing the state to mendicancy.

These factions will flourish if the state becomes a federal poodle on a short leash held by the president. He might make aid conditional on the state doing things that California Democrats and their union allies would love to be "compelled" to do: eliminate the requirements of two-thirds majorities of both houses of the Legislature to raise taxes and pass budgets, and repeal Proposition 13, which voters passed in 1978 to limit property taxes. These changes would enable the Legislature (job approval: 14 percent) to siphon away an ever-larger share of taxpayers' wealth and transfer it to public employees. Such as prison guards, whose potent union is one reason California's cost-per-inmate (about $49,000) is twice the national average.

California's voters are complicit in their state's collapse. They elect and re-elect the legislators off whom public employees unions batten. Also, voters have promiscuously used their state's plebiscitary devices to control and fatten the budget. Last November, as the dark fiscal clouds lowered, they authorized $9.95 billion more in debt as a down payment on a perhaps $75 billion high-speed rail project linking San Francisco and Los Angeles -- a delight California cannot afford.

In a surreal attempt to terrify voters into supporting the propositions, Schwarzenegger (job approval: 33 percent) threatened to do something sensible: sell such state assets as San Quentin prison, which sits on prime ocean-view real estate. But Californians should now pay a real price, in realism about ways and means, for Schwarzenegger's wasted years. His governance-by-attention-deficit-disorder has involved flitting from one trendy irrelevance (e.g., stem cell research) to another (e.g., cooling the planet) while the state has sagged. Fittingly, he was in Washington as his shambolic legacy was being defined by Tuesday's defeat.

He was at the White House, applauding the Obama administration's imposition of severe fuel efficiency standards on a dependent automobile industry that at least has a proven aptitude for its new task of building cars Americans will not like. Standing far from Tuesday's repudiation, in the shadow of the president who may soon effectively be California's governor, Schwarzenegger was the administration's dependency agenda writ small.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

"Rejoice in Jerusalem"

Arlene Kushner

It is 42 two years since Jerusalem was reunited under our sovereignty. Four-two years since we took eastern Jerusalem and the Old City in the Six Day War.

Tonight and tomorrow we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim -- may she remain united in our hands eternally.

Enjoy this one-minute video that celebrates Yerushalayim with scenic and historical views: And for the most stunning version of Yerushalayim shel zahav (Jerusalem of Gold) sung by the late, magnificent Ofra Haza z"l:


Speaking of Jerusalem:

Palestinian sources are lamenting that they were promised by the US that in any peace deal Jerusalem would be their capital.

But President Obama's peace plan -- essentially the Saudi plan with some modifications, which he intends to unveil in Cairo when he gives his much-vaunted talk in early June -- envisions things just a bit differently. In this plan the Palestinians would get eastern Jerusalem as their capital, but the holy places would be under the jurisdiction of the UN.

I can just imagine him, thinking how sage this is, how fair. That an international agency should supervise these sites, thus preventing Jewish-Arab rivalry for control.

For us this is nothing more than a joke. The United Nations controlling the Kotel (Western Wall) and the Temple Mount? Oi! Give me a break!

That Obama would think this is OK means he is totally devoid of any sensitivity to how the UN has treated us (does he even know the UN Human Rights Council record?) or how we respond to this agency. Either that, or he just doesn't care, as long as he provides a surface semblance of impartiality.

But it seems this plan doesn't suit the Palestinians either. And I love this complication.


An even worse hindrance to the "peace plan" is the instability of the Palestinian Authority, with which we would be expected to negotiate, and which would presumably govern an autonomous region or state. Seems a good part of the Fatah party is not happy with the new government that Abbas has put in place. While many Fatah people have become ministers, they have done so as individuals and not as members of the party.

Fayyad, it should be noted, is viewed (not without reason) as a puppet of the West.

Has Obama figured out precisely whom we are supposed to talk to and who actually can speak for the Palestinian Arab body politic?


An issue was raised by a reader today (thanks, Minka) that I've addressed before, but would like to return to here. I refer above to the "Palestinian Arab body politic," but the question is whether there really is one. That is, are the Arabs known as Palestinians truly united in their perceptions of themselves as one people, with a genuine yearning for a state?

There is every indication that the answer is no. There are multiple loyalties -- to the hamula, which is the all-important clan; to ideologies, including radical Islam and even socialism; to cultural associations linked with Egypt or Jordan; etc. But they don't get their act together as one people. And thus have they failed to develop the infrastructure necessary for building a state.


Whatever Obama's intentions towards us, our strongest friends in the US are in Congress. A letter initiated both by members of the Republican and Democratic parties has been sent to President Obama, telling him that "peace cannot come while terrorism continues to wrack Israel.”

It was signed by over 250 members of Congress, including 76 senators.


Prime Minister Netanyahu was pushed with regard to a freeze on settlements while he was in Washington, but he declined to commit to anything, saying that first he wants to see what commitments the PA is honoring. This is his principle of reciprocity. As National Security Advisor Uzi Arad put it, "If this is about give and take, then what is the Palestinian side ready to give? You can't expect Israel alone to answer the Palestinians' demands time and again."

Washington leaders were told that we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in our major settlement blocs.


Netanyahu arrived back home today and pronounced himself satisfied.

It is being reported that in a briefing on the plane coming home, Ron Dermer, one of Netanyahu's closest aides, told the journalists present that "the focus by the media on the concept of solving the Israel-Palestinian issue through a two-state solution is childish and stupid...the fixation with that idea rather than focusing on the fundamental issues." He was careful to say he wasn't describing the concept itself this way, but he was headed in that direction.

However, according to YNet, another, unnamed, Netanyahu aide was less circumspect and referred to the concept itself as "juvenile."

What we're seeing then is the beginning of a campaign to discredit the Obama approach and deal more realistically with the complexities of the situation.

My response: A very cautious, a very tentative Halleluyah!


As many of you may know, Iran today announced the test of a Sajjil-2 missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers, which has the capacity to reach not only Israel, but US troops in the region and parts of Europe. This announcement has been confirmed.

It is not of immediate concern to Israel, as Iran has older missiles with a range sufficient to reach us, and we have been preparing defense against this via anti-missile systems. But it should be of concern to the Western world more broadly.

An unnamed US official cited by Reuters said, that though the United States wants to engage with Teheran, American patience is "not infinite."

"Iran just keeps going in the wrong direction. We want them to engage with us, to talk about how we can make the region more stable. This is just a step in the wrong direction,"


Do the Americans responsible for current policy know how stupid this sounds?

It's as if this official is speaking to a recalcitrant child who won't get with the program: "You didn't like it when Bush ostracized you, and we're trying to be nice to you. So why are you making it so hard for us and being so contrary? Naughty, naughty. We can't help you when you act this way."

Has it occurred to anyone over there that it is simply not a goal of the Iranian mullahs to make the region more stable? That this is the whole point?


Sigh... Then we have the secretary of state, who spoke about Iran at a Senate hearing today. She said that the prospect of a nuclear Iran was an "extraordinary threat", and that the government was working "to persuade the Iranian regime that they will actually be less secure if they proceed with their nuclear weapons program."

In my humble opinion, Hillary is not sounding too swift either.


"The Good News Corner"

Today it's political good news. First an announcement from the Foreign Ministry:

"Israel will, for the first time, open an embassy in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan. The decision to open the embassy was reached in view of the development of the good bilateral relationship with Turkmenistan and the new momentum in relations with Central Asian countries.

"Turkmenistan is one of the leading countries in Central Asia, and Israel's relations with it are of political, economic and strategic importance.

"We are certain that the permanent presence of an Israeli diplomat at the ambassadorial level in Ashgabat will ensure an additional quantum leap in the development of relations with a pivotal and friendly country such as Turkmenistan."


Interestingly, in today's Jerusalem Post is an article by the ambassador to Israel from Kazakhstan, another Central Asian nation. He praises the cooperation and positive dynamic between his country and ours, and seeks stronger ties.

From the Foreign Ministry announcement: "the new momentum in relations with Central Asian countries." Our future is with these nations and not the nations of western Europe.


Kuwait has just held a general election and the results represent a stunning victory for reform and democratization. For the first time ever, women -- four of them -- were elected to the parliament, while the Muslim Brotherhood lost three of its four seats.


Then, as this is Yom Yerushalayim, sharing of a bit of news regarding Mayor Barkat's new master plan for Jerusalem, to be carried out over a period of years:

[] A green belt surrounding the city, with picnic areas and hiking trails, a bicycle path and a lake.

[] Revamped eastern Jerusalem infrastructure, with 13,00 housing permits for Arab housing and special attention to historic sites.

[] A massive tourist drive.

[] Tens of thousands of new hi-tech jobs.

[] Affordable housing and arrangements for young couples who are now squeezed out of the city.

Let it be!


see my website

Will Obama's Justice Department Prosecute Abbas for Murder?

Edward Olshaker
American Thinker

Now that President Obama has opened the door to prosecuting Bush administration officials for legal opinions allowing waterboarding of al Qaeda leaders, it would be monumentally ironic and unjust if the door were not also open to prosecuting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for funding the murder of David Berger, the American-born member of the Israeli Olympic team slaughtered in Munich in 1972. Berger is merely one individual on a long list of American victims of the 4-decade killing spree in which Abbas boasts of having fired the first shot. Ironically, the slain weightlifter was "a pacifist in the truest sense of the word," according to his father Benjamin, a Cleveland-area doctor quoted in an article on about efforts to keep alive the memory of Berger and his teammates.

Although prosecutions of officials of the previous administration now appear less likely, the mere possibility that emergency anti-terror efforts might be punished while terrorist atrocities go un-investigated, must be an Orwellian nightmare for the families of the hundreds of American victims of Palestinian terrorism, as well as anyone who has empathy. And didn't the President insist, on the occasion of Justice Souter's retirement, that empathy is one of the foremost qualities he values in our system of justice? The Israeli civil rights group Shurat Hadin has spent years appealing to US and German law enforcement to investigate the role of Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) in the Munich Massacre. According to their research,

Abu Mazen, then a high ranking PLO official, provided financing for the terrorist attacks being perpetrated by Yassir Arafat's PLO faction Fatah under the nom de guerre Black September.

Shurat Hadin is basing its information on published statements by the terrorist who masterminded the the Munich attack, Mohammed Daoud Oudeh ("Abu Daoud"). In his French-language autobiography, Palestine: From Jerusalem to Munich, Abu Daoud describes the role of Abu Mazen in providing the funds to carry out the Black September Olympic attack.

Furthermore, in an interview with journalist Don Yaeger of Sports Illustrated Magazine in August 2002, Abu Daoud reiterated his charges that Abu Mazen supplied the money for the deadly attack...

Abu Daoud's allegations have been confirmed by sources within the Palestinian
Authority, according to Shurat Hadin.

Moreover, as Yassir Arafat's deputy for decades, the extent of Abbas' role in other atrocities, including the torture and execution of American diplomats Cleo A. Noel, Jr. and George Curtis in Khartoum on March 2, 1973, demands investigation.
It is possible for a terrorist to evolve into a statesman and peacemaker over the span of 3 or 4 decades, yet as Abbas proudly announced, he has not changed one iota from 1965 to today. The perception of him and his faction as moderate might be the world's most inexplicable shared hallucination. As Jeff Jacoby reported on April 5:

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority has warned Arabs that it is "high treason" punishable by death to sell homes or property to Jews in Jerusalem; shut down a Palestinian youth orchestra and arrested its founder because the ensemble played for a group of elderly Israeli Holocaust survivors; and celebrated the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel's history -- a PLO bus hijacking that left 38 civilians dead -- with a TV special extolling the massacre. On Thursday, after a Palestinian terrorist used an axe to murder a 13-year-old Jewish boy, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- a wing of the supposedly "moderate" Fatah party -- issued a statement claiming responsibility.

The axe murder, and the choice of such a young victim, was no aberration. Abbas' faction seems to revel in the slaughter of children. This mindset was evident in the way the PA reacted in 2004 to the fate of Tali Hatuel, who was driving with her daughters -- Hila, 11, Hadar, 9, Roni, 7, and Merav, 2 -- when Palestinian terrorists shot the eight-months-pregnant mother in the stomach and shot the screaming girls repeatedly in the head. A Jerusalem Newswire headline reported at the time that the US taxpayer-funded PA "Honors Killers of Jewish Family." The PA also called Tali Hatuel and her four daughters "terrorists."

Similarly, when 16-year-old American Daniel Wultz died 27 days after being wounded in a Tel Aviv homicide bombing orchestrated by Abbas' al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Abu Nasser, one of the terror gang's leaders, gloated, "This is a gift from Allah. We wish this young dog will go directly with no transit to hell..."

Following Israel's recent release of Samir Kuntar, whose murder victims included a 4-year-old girl whose head he bashed in, Abbas and other PA officials did not mask their excitement over Kuntar's freedom and his deeds. The Zionist Organization of America described Abbas meeting with Kuntar in Beirut at the time, and noted:

Abbas' meeting with Kuntar is only the latest in a series of actions by Abbas and the PA honoring Samir Kuntar. At the time of the multiple murderer's release, Abbas personally congratulated Kuntar's family on his release (‘Abbas congratulates Kuntar's family for killer's release,' Haaretz, July 16, 2008). Moreover, Abbas' Fatah party organized a celebratory rally to mark the occasion in Ramallah, while a senior advisor to Abbas, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, hailed the release of Kuntar and other terrorists by Israel saying, "This is an historic victory over Israeli arrogance" and praised Kuntar as a "big struggler" (Khaled Abu Toameh, ‘Haniyeh: Release thousands for Schalit,' Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2008). Additionally, Ziad abu al-Enain, director-general of the PA Ministry for Prisoner Affairs of the Salam Fayyad government and one of Fatah's senior members in the territories, said "The Palestinians congratulate Hizbullah and its leader and send their best wishes to all the Lebanese people and to all the Palestinians upon the completion of the deal and the release of heroes, headed by the prisoners' leader, Samir Kuntar" (Ali Waked, ‘Abbas congratulates Kuntar's family; Haniyeh: Israel will pay more,' Yediot Ahronot, July 16, 2008).

Obama said in Sderot that he would not tolerate rocket attacks that endangered his own daughters. If Samir Kuntar's beating-death victim had been Malia or Sascha Obama, rather than 4-year-old Einat Haran, and Abbas celebrated the killing, would Obama treat Abbas as a moderate peacemaker and negotiate with him? We all know the answer.

Immediately after being sworn in as president, Obama gave Abbas the unique honor of calling him before any other world leader, yet promises to "hunt down and kill" Osama bin Laden. Why the dramatic double standard? The apparent answer is that terrorists get a free pass-not to mention billions in US taxpayer dollars-when their targets are Jewish. Is there any other explanation?

At the same time that Abbas receives royal treatment, this administration is eagerly prosecuting a teenage Somali pirate who, unlike Abbas, did not kill anyone. One might argue that the difference is that Abbas is a high-profile national leader and therefore "too big to allow to fail." Yet Panama's dictator Manuel Noriega languishes today in prison, convicted by the US government of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering-minor offenses compared with the Munich bloodbath.

Attorney-General Eric Holder has insisted, "We owe the American people a reckoning." Vice-President Joseph Biden has emphasized, "We will not be stopped from pursuing any criminal offence that's one is above the law." Both were referring to investigating US officials in connection with actions that included rare instances of waterboarding al Qaeda leaders, particularly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after he ominously gloated that a second wave of attacks was imminent.

In the case of Abbas, is Biden correct that "no one is above the law?" And if not, in what kind of upside-down justice system is the door open to prosecuting efforts to stop terrorism, yet not open to prosecuting terrorism?

Edward Olshaker is a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in History News Network, The Jewish Press, FrontPage Magazine, and other publications.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Netanyahu's Broader Stance Earns Early U.S. Favor

Howard Schneider
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

JERUSALEM, May 19 -- During his first turn as Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington in 1996 with a chip on his shoulder and a long list of things he said he would not do -- from slowing the expansion of Israeli settlements to meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. It was the start of a famously testy relationship with President Bill Clinton, characterized by public fights, haggling and ultimately a drop in support for Netanyahu in Israel.

For his first meeting with President Obama this week, Netanyahu brought not defiance over potential differences with his host, but a broad argument about the regional security threat posed by Iran and a list of steps he said he would take to improve life for the Palestinians.

Less bombastic, more strategic and playing for what he apparently regards as higher stakes, Netanyahu's approach 13 years later appears to have won him some initial goodwill from the Oval Office.

With Clinton, "it did not click, definitely. The Clinton administration was still very nostalgic" about assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had signed the Oslo peace accords with Arafat, said Zalman Shoval, Israel's ambassador to the United States during Netanyahu's first term. "Netanyahu was a new prime minister, and I think he was not flexible enough."

By contrast, Obama on Monday praised Netanyahu's "political skills but also his historical vision," adding, "He is going to rise to the occasion, and I actually think you are going to see movement" on a regional peace effort.

To Palestinians and Arabs, Netanyahu remains a polarizing figure who has built his career not only on a paramount commitment to Israeli security -- typical for the country's leaders -- but also on opposition to a Palestinian state.

His views on those issues, at the root of many disputes with the Clinton administration and at odds with Obama's position, have not changed. Netanyahu says he supports limited Palestinian self-rule, but not a Palestinian state with full sovereignty.

What has shifted is the world around him. Islamist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah have grown stronger, Iran is developing nuclear technology, and the United States has become bogged down in two wars after suffering a major terrorist attack. Israelis say their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 helped strengthen Hamas, which has since seized control of the enclave, and was followed not by calm but by rocket and mortar fire into their towns.

In recent years, Netanyahu and a group of security advisers have bundled those and other facts and trends into a single argument -- that Israel faces a threat to its existence and will be hesitant to grant significant concessions to the Palestinians until that threat diminishes.

"The circumstances around him have changed, because Israel is in a very different position than it was," said Daniel Gordis, senior vice president and a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research institute from which Netanyahu has drawn several advisers and staff members. In his first term, "the idea that Israel's sovereignty could be in question was not on anybody's mind. And now it is very much on people's minds."

Netanyahu's critics, Palestinian officials chief among them, argue that the broader security argument is being used to deflect attention from issues the prime minister does not want to confront -- such as the policy on West Bank settlements, Palestinians' demands for freer movement as a reward for improved West Bank security, and the grim conditions endured by residents of Gaza, which has been under an Israeli embargo since Hamas won parliamentary elections in early 2006.

"If he stays the course on this, then he is closing the door and pushing the region towards bin Laden," said senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Obama agrees that Israel should pursue creation of a Palestinian state, stop settlement activity and ease the Gaza embargo.

But in a public appearance with Netanyahu on Monday, the president also noted Israel's security concerns and mentioned areas where he felt the Palestinian Authority needed to do more.

Rather than focusing on specific steps for Israel to take, Obama said he expects Netanyahu to work toward "the long-term goal . . . not a grudging peace, not a transitory peace, but a wide-ranging regional peace."

The language is similar to that used by Netanyahu and his advisers in arguing that the time is right for a broader discussion between Israel and the Arab states about curbing the influence of Iran and militant Islam in the region.

In contrast to the battles between Clinton and Netanyahu, that appeared to indicate a meeting of minds -- something Obama may work to expand in upcoming meetings with Arab leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and in a speech in Egypt next month.

"If Israel and the Americans can find a partnership with people like the king of Jordan or the president of Egypt," said Yossi Alpher, an Israeli analyst, "I think for the first time we have an opportunity."

Guest comment:prlfcpen wrote:
How fascinating the demands that Pres. Obama has made of Israel - abandonment of Judea and Samaria which would uproot 250,000 Israelis, a halt to settlements which are needed for homes for citizens of the country, the division of Jerusalem
which, under Jordan for 19 years (1948-67)deprived Jews of praying at the Western wall of the Temple and destruction of some of that site, wanton desecration of the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives - and so much more! What is demanded of the purveyors of terrorism whose acts of violence towards Jews in the region for the last 100 years long preceded the State of Israel.

Let it be known that a Palestinian Arab state would be a terrorist apartheid entity - open to Arabs only while Israel is home to many, including Arabs.

While the President is making the demands it is he who lacks historical vision and experience. Where are his demands of the Arabs? PM Netanyahu, while having made some errors in the past, has learned from them that he was elected to keep Israel secure and safe from an enemy that is funded and supported by Iran, a country that wants to export its Islamic Revolution to the world. The conflict in the Middle East is not about territory but an ideology that wants to destroy the West. When will the US administration discover this and act before it is too late?
5/20/2009 2:38:56 PM

Spectacular results in Kuwaiti general election

Amir Taheri

FORMER President George W. Bush's policy of en couraging Middle East democratization has just produced spectacular results in the Kuwaiti general election. In a major victory for the secular reformists over the Islamists, women -- four of them -- were elected to the 50-seat national parliament for the first time. The Islamists' share of Sunday's vote dropped almost 30 percent from the last general election, held just more than a year ago. The radical Muslim Brotherhood lost three of its four seats, while the hard-line Salafis dropped to two from four.

The election of women represents a political earthquake in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a grouping of six oil-rich traditional Arab monarchies. Kuwait has had a parliament on and off since gaining independence in 1960, but the other GCC members entered the era of electoral politics largely due to pressure from the Bush administration. US pressure also played a crucial part in persuading Kuwait's leaders to enfranchise women for the first time in 2005.

The four female parliamentarians all represent the emirate's educated middle classes. The youngest, Aseel Al-Awadhi, is a US-educated philosophy professor. The best known, Rola Dashti, also a teacher, has campaigned for human rights for years. The third, Dr. Maasoumeh Mubarak, is the first Kuwaiti woman to have served as a Cabinet minister (she was health minister), and the fourth, Salwa al-Jassar, is a leading campaigner for women's rights. All managed to defeat prominent Islamists and tribal figures in their respective constituencies.

This was the second time Kuwaiti women were allowed to vote in a general election. The first time, their share of the vote was estimated at around 11 percent; this time it was almost 40 percent. The women won their seats largely because a majority of male voters decided to cast ballots for them.

"This was a triumph both for women and for Kuwaiti democracy," Al-Awadhi says. "Many voters were ready to go beyond the man-woman divide and vote for the candidates they thought most fitted for the job."

The other big winner was moderate Shiites, who represent a quarter of Kuwait's population. They were strengthened by the coming to power of moderate Shiite parties in neighboring Iraq.

The increase in voter turnout, to more than 70 percent, refuted any claim that democratization has little support in the Middle East.

In fact, the Kuwaiti election is the third in a year to produce a resounding defeat for Islamists. Last year, Pakistani voters reduced the Islamists' vote share to three percent from 11 percent. Then, Iraqi voters all but wiped out Islamists in crucial local elections.

The next battleground is Lebanon, where a general election is scheduled for June 7. A coalition of Islamists and Christian Maronites, headed by the Iranian-led Hezbollah, aims to win control of the government in Beirut. It's opposed by a coalition of pro-Western parties representing Muslims, Christians and Druze communities that support the current government led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

On June 12, the Islamic Republic of Iran will hold its own presidential election, although only candidates endorsed by the regime are allowed to stand. In August, it's Afghanistan's turn to choose a president. There, too, the fight is between pro-Western modernizers and Iran-backed Islamists.

The biggest battle will come early next year, when Iraq holds its general election.

It's evident that the greater Middle East is witnessing a major struggle between forces of reform and of reaction. While President Obama appears to have abandoned Bush's push for regional democratization, America could play a crucial role by continuing to support the forces fighting for it.

Obama would do well to take a closer look at the Kuwaiti election before he goes to Egypt, where he's expected to announce a return to America's traditional policy of supporting the Middle East status quo.

Amir Taheri's latest book is "The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution."

Palestinian Authority's new government: Anyone Ever Ask Them if They're Ready to Negotate Peace?

Barry Rubin

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced its thirteenth government in fourteen years.

Its prime minister is Salam Fayad, a Westernized professional economist who has no political base whatsoever. Why is he prime minister? The only reason is because otherwise Western donors wouldn’t give the money to the PA to function.

After the ceremony, Fayyad rejected talks with Israel at present: "I do not think this is the appropriate time to talk about negotiations when Israel is not honoring prior agreements and understandings."

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said anything like that—in Washington he said he was eager to renew talks—the headline on every newspaper in the world would be: Netanyahu Refuses to Negotiate Peace with Palestinians.

But since it is the Palestinian leader refusing to negotiate peace with Israel, nobody pays attention.

And who's the foreign minister? Again, it's my old friend, Riyad al-Malki, once a top leader of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on the West Bank. He's the one charged with making peace with Israel and proving to the West that the PA is moderate, flexible, and would love to get along with its neighbor in harmony and mutual respect.

It is useful to recall what I have previously written about him.

At the Durban-2 meeting, Malki said: "For over 60 years the Palestinian people has been suffering under…the ugliest face of racism and racial discrimination…." and that Israel's position is characterized by "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."

It should be noted that for many years, before joining the PA, he was the West Bank leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group more radical than Fatah. The PFLP murdered many Israeli civilians--including an Israeli cabinet minister--but its leadership always had safe haven in Arab states. As for "xenophobia" and "intolerance," Israel made agreements with the PLO which gave Malki immunity for the crimes in which he was involved.

Does anyone notice something peculiar about a veteran leader of a terrorist group whose goal was genocide calling others xenophobic and intolerant?

Despite being disgusting, this also has an element of amusement for me. The last time I saw him, we were having dinner in Greece and he told me--he never said it was confidential--that the PLO's policy was a disaster, that Yasir Arafat was a terrible leader, that most of the members in his office were thinking of emigrating to Canada (including his brother who had already gone there), and his sister's children were discriminated against in Jordan because they were Palestinians. He added that the demand that all Palestinians be allowed to live in Israel (the so-called "Right of Return") was a mistake because Israel would never accept it. At the end, he concluded--to my astonishment but these are his exact words, "Maybe we are better off staying under Israeli rule."

Naturally, the next day at the conference he gave a speech saying that all the Palestinians' problems were due to Israel. In response to my complaints about PA incitement to anti-Israel violence, he publicly called for a joint committee to monitor incitement on both sides.

When I approached him after the session and said it was a good idea so we should do it, he practically laughed in my face. We both knew that everything he said was for propaganda purposes and he didn't mean any of it.

This is not a man who one can envision making a compromise peace with Israel or doing anything except trying to make propaganda points by public relations' maneuvers.

Barak to Yesha: Abandon Outposts or Face Expulsion

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Barak Threatens Expulsions
A7 News

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told leaders of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria Wednesday that he will order forcible expulsions of Jewish residents from what he termed illegal outposts if the communities are not evacuated voluntarily. In a 75-minute meeting at his offices in Tel Aviv, the Defense Minister also advised, “The outposts hurt the image of communities in Judea and Samaria.”

The leaders of the movement to maintain a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria reacted with restraint and suggested that several hilltop communities might be evacuated but added they will demand that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discuss the issue with them after his return from Washngtron.

They pointed to Migron as a case example of how mutual discussions might be able to avoid a violent confrontation, although the community remains standing despite High Court orders that it be destroyed. The Yesha Council and the Defense Minister have come up with a plan to relocate the residents, but no final action has been taken.

The leaders of the nationalist movement have stated that only a few of the hilltop communities, or outposts, are illegal, explaining that their status is in question only because they have not been registered properly.

Dozens of outposts have been established throughout Judea and Samaria since the Oslo Accords, and many of them have developed into full-fledged communities, including synagogues and educational facilities.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first time Yesha leaders met with Barak since he ordered the expulsion of Jews from the Peace House in Hevron several months ago, at the same time he was speaking with nationalists about a compromise.

The Defense Minster claimed his determination to destroy several communities was not a reaction to American pressure bur rather is because he wants to enforce the law. However, he previously has delayed expulsions for up to two years. In November 2007, he asked the High Court for an extension of only two months before presenting a plan to dismantle several outposts.

The leftist organization Peace Now has initiated several petitions to the courts to force the removal of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Deputy PM: “Jerusalem Will Not be Divided”

Hillel Fendel Deputy PM: “Jerusalem Forever

"Jerusalem will remain Israel’s eternal capital forever.” So stated Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom on Wednesday at a special Knesset session marking Jerusalem Day, adding, “This is not a promise; it’s a fact.” Participating in the special Knesset session were Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, his predecessor Uri Lupoliansky, and members of the Jerusalem City Council.

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, a former Jerusalem City Council member, opened the session by calling upon the Mayor and the City Council to do all they can to restore to Israeli citizens’ a sense of pride in their capital city. Former Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima), still reeling from the revelations that she spent more than NIS 100,000 of public monies to refurbish her home for "official business," spoke of poverty in the capital.

But Minister Shalom, still considered to be a political rival of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, grabbed the limelight with his unequivocal statement. “We disagree among ourselves on many issues, but regarding Jerusalem, the overwhelming majority agrees. There are no two Jerusalems. There is one Jerusalem, and it will never be a topic for discussion.”

“The future of Jerusalem is like the future of the State of Israel, and like that of the entire Jewish nation," Shalom said. "Jerusalem will never be divided, and we will never give up Jerusalem.”

Minister Shalom, who served as Foreign Minister in Ariel Sharon’s government, mentioned the Jewish People’s unshakeable historical bonds with the city: “King David made it his capital nearly 3,000 years ago, and King Solomon built the first Holy Temple on Mt. Moriah, the site of the Temple Mount. When it fell and was torn away from us, the exiled Jews in Babylon wept and vowed never to forget it… Ever since, it has been the very heart of the Jewish People, and is one of the most blatant expressions of our Jewishness.”

“As a minister in the Government of Israel, I am proud to be among those standing guard on behalf of Jerusalem,” Shalom stated.

Livni: 'No' is Not an Answer

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, who led negotiations with the Palestinian Authority under the previous government that reportedly included an agreement to divide Jerusalem, also spoke at the special session: “I suggest to all of us not to preach and not to divide us into those who love Jerusalem and who are more obligated to here, and those who are less… The State of Israel must have a vision that is translated into a program; the way to protect Israel, its security, its national interests, and Jerusalem and the holy sites – is by translating the vision into an Israeli initiative. We won’t preserve Jerusalem by saying 'no' to everything.”

New Palestinian government sworn in

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) — A new Palestinian government, again headed by Western-backed Salam Fayyad, was sworn in on Tuesday.

The new cabinet took the oath of office at the Palestinian Authority (PA) headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Ten of the 23 ministers are Fatah members and the remainder belong to other groups, but none to Hamas, which said it would not recognise the new government. The ceremony came a day after the secular Fatah faction of Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the rival Hamas adjourned a fifth round of talks in Egypt without agreeing on a unity deal.

The US-educated Fayyad announced on March 7 that he had submitted his resignation to pave the way for a "national consensus" between Fatah and Hamas.

The rival factions have been at loggerheads since Hamas forces ousted Abbas loyalists from the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Since then, the Iranian-backed Hamas has run the Gaza Strip and the secular Abbas has been in charge of the West Bank.

Hamas on Tuesday accused Abbas of "deliberately sabotaging the Palestinian dialogue."

"This government is illegal and we will not recognise it," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.

Agreement between the two Palestinian factions is vital for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, devastated by Israel's 22-day offensive in December and January that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

International donor countries pledged 4.5 billion dollars to the Palestinian Authority at a conference in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in March, much of it for the reconstruction of Gaza.

But many donor countries refuse to channel their funds via Hamas, insisting the PA must supervise the spending.

Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006 and formed a government two months later, but the cabinet was boycotted by Israel and the West over the group's refusal to renounce violence and recognise Israel and past peace deals.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah grew for months afterwards, often erupting into violent clashes, but the two sides managed to form a unity government in March 2007 after Saudi mediation.

That cabinet was short-lived however.

In June 2007, the tensions erupted into Gaza street clashes that saw unprecedented violence between the two factions and ended with Hamas in control of the impoverished territory of 1.5 million people.

Abbas then formed a new cabinet with Fayyad at the helm in July 2007.

Tuesday's swearing in ceremony was delayed by one hour amid internal disagreements as two Fatah deputies refused to join the cabinet. Fatah's parliamentary faction complained it had not been consulted over the formation of the government.

Fayyad is a former World Bank and International Monetary Fund employee who won accolades in the West for his anti-corruption measures during his stint as Palestinian finance minister between 2002 and 2005.

A fluent English speaker, Fayyad is a firm believer in the principles of transparency and accountability whom Israel's liberal Haaretz newspaper once dubbed "everyone's favourite Palestinian."

Riyad al-Malki will retain the foreign affairs portfolio in the new cabinet, and four ministries, including tourism and education, will be headed by women.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved
Aggie Comment: The term of Abbas as PM expired in Jan 2009. He says PA's Basic Law allows him to stay in power for another year. He has now formed a new govt--based on what? Has anyone read reports on any new parlimentary elections being held? Is this an entity that can be legally recognized to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel?