Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"Revving Up"

Arlene Kushner

The campaign engine, is what I am referring to. President Obama has announced that he's launching his re-election campaign.

A good dozen potential Republican candidates are currently testing the campaign waters, but none have yet declared. It is critical that the Republican candidate be absolutely top-notch: someone capable of defeating Obama soundly. For a second-term (lame-duck) Obama would be more dangerous than what we have now (which is dangerous enough), as he would no longer be concerned with his support for election purposes. He'd be much more likely to do as he pleases.

There will be much to say, in due course. sraeli President Shimon Peres is in Washington, and will be meeting with Obama shortly. That they will talk "peace" is a given. There has been a great deal of discussion regarding whether Peres will be speaking on his own (dove-oriented) behalf, or officially on behalf of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Herb Keinon, in today's JPost, had another take: Netanyahu will be coming to the States soon, and Peres has gone, as a "scout," with the prime minister's explicit blessing, to test the waters and soften Obama up.

That Netanyahu should consider this necessary says volumes about where Obama is coming from.


Dirar Abu Sisi, a Palestinian Arab engineer, disappeared from a train in the Ukraine on February 19. For some days, no one knew of his whereabouts. Israel officials then confirmed that Israel was holding him, but little more was said.

Abu Sisi's wife lamented that he was an innocent man who didn't know about anything (the first thought was that this was with regard to where Gilad Shalit was being held). Abu Sisi's brother said maybe someone was framing him, but he is a good, and innocent man.

Right. Yesterday an indictment against this "innocent" man was filed with the Beersheba District Court. The charges:

Abu Sisi received a doctorate degree from a Ukrainian military engineering academy, where he worked with a Scud missile specialist. During his studies the engineer gained knowledge on the development of missiles and their control systems.

Once returned to Gaza, Abu Sisi joined Hamas and engaged in covert operations of the organization.

Between the years 2002-2008, he was a Hamas commander and member of a committee in which Mohammed Def, the commander of the group's military wing, was also a member. The committee was charged with developing deadly missiles and rockets that have been used by Hamas since 2002 against civilians as well as IDF vehicles. Abu Sisi helped the group enlarge its rocket range from 6 km to 22, and vowed to further improve the range to 37-45 km.

Following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Abu Sisi was nominated to lead the establishment of a military academy charged with training Hamas commanders.

May he be put away for a long, long time.


Dr. Aaron Lerner's comments on this are worthy of note:

"The Israeli 'quiet for quiet' model - that appears to be continued to be embraced by the current Israeli government - takes the approach that the Arabs in the Gaza Strip can do pretty much anything that they want to do to prepare for war against Israel as long as they don't shoot. Yet. And when the Arabs shoot from Gaza, Israel responds with a 'tit for tat,' bombing a few targets from the 'target bank' rather than attempting to make a serious dent in the weapons stores in the Gaza Strip.

"Some have argued that 'quiet for quiet' could stop major advances in the weapons systems being deployed in the Gaza Strip as long as the Israeli Navy and others manage to stop the weapons systems in transit into the Gaza Strip.

"But the indictment of Dirar Abu Sisi reveals that extremely significant and deadly dangerous missile development was taking place in the Gaza Strip itself.

"The 'quiet for quiet' policy should more appropriately be termed a 'let's forget about tomorrow' policy."


And I'd like to carry an examination of the "let's forget about tomorrow" policy one step further. As I see it, there is the potential (potential -- we don't know yet) for a vastly different dynamic with regard to our attacking Gaza. Until now, if we attacked Gaza, we dealt with Hamas, and that was it. And I believe it would still be the case at the moment, with the military ruling Egypt.

But now Mohamed ElBaradei, who is a candidate for the Egyptian presidency, has declared that as president he would find ways to implement the joint Arab defense pact, were Israel to attack in Gaza.

It's very unlikely that ElBaradei will win. But what if someone else who thinks similarly does? What if Muslim Brotherhood comes to power?

Is it not better that we take out the huge stockpiles of weapons in the possession of Hamas now, before the dynamic shifts? It is estimated that Hamas weapons capability has increased four-fold in the last fives years.

Just asking...


This comes from Ma'an, the PA news agency: The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has released new information regarding living conditions among Palestinian Arabs.

Statistics are very similar for the West Bank and Gaza. Got that? Sort of puts a dent in the image of Gazans as suffering tremendously.

Home ownership in the West Bank was at 82 percent, and at 80 percent in Gaza, although crowding was greater in Gaza. Almost all homes had refrigerators, 94 percent had satellite dishes, and 47 percent had computers.


PA President Abbas has met in Amman with David Hill , Deputy to the US special envoy to the Middle East (that would be Blair).

Abbas informed Hill that negotiations will resume "only if there are clear terms of reference to the negotiations and after Israel stops all settlement activity." (Translation: only if Israel agrees to all terms before negotiations begin.)


On a brighter note, Dennis Ross, Obama ME advisor, speaking at the annual leadership conference of the Anti-Defamation League, noted that:

“We have consistently made it clear that the way to produce a Palestinian state is through negotiations, not through unilateral declarations, not through going to the UN. Our position on that has been consistent in opposition.”

It would be good to know in real terms what this will mean with regard to US policy and actions if and when the PA does go to the UN. (I would suggest that the stronger the US is in communicating this opposition, the more the hesitation that will be engendered in PA ranks.)

After declaring strong US commitment to Israel, Ross then launched into talk about the need for those negotiations. “It’s important that they [Palestinian Arab leadership] see that peace is a possibility. They need to see that negotiations can not only take place, but they can produce.”

The problem with all this blather is that Ross does not confront the hard realities, such as the fact that the PA demands it all, and cannot have it all. What "possibility" is he addressing?


More good news:

Jerusalem's Building and Planning Committee voted yesterday to permit the construction of 942 housing units in the neighborhood of Gilo, in the south of the city. A zoning decision by the Committee may pave the way for an additional 300 housing units in the future as well.

According to a statement by the municipality: "The land where the units are to be built is owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and private individuals. The private owners are asking that building plans be advanced in accordance with the law."


The municipal committee also planned to discuss the expansion of three other Jerusalem neighborhoods: Ramat Shlomo, Har Homa and Pisgat Ze'ev. But reports are that Shimon Peres asked that this be tabled until his return from meeting Obama.


Yesterday as well, the Ministry of Defense approved for urban zoning four Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria: Eshkolot, Hemdat, Nofim and Rotem. The zoning allows for higher- density apartment buildings.

"These are legal settlements that were built on state lands, [and] received authorizations from the government, but their urban construction plans were not arranged," read a Ministry statement. Actual construction would require further authorization and building permits. But the legal standing of these communities has now been strengthened with regard to such matters as state funding and utilities.


But while the urban zoning for four Jewish communities is considered a move in the right direction, leaders of the Councils of Samaria were angry that this move was selective.

Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika complained, "Citizens residing in Judea and Samaria are not second class citizens." Legally, he said, there was no difference between Nofim and Itamar, which was also built by the government.

Remember Itamar? Where five members of the Fogel family were massacred, and members of the government and the Knesset came to say that the response must be building?

Including Itamar, there are five additional communities in the Shomron Regional Council that merit the same attention as Nofim.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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