At a conference in Ramallah, Abbas said:
"The peace process is clinically dead and the Israeli side is definitely the one responsible. The ball is in their court."
Well, the peace process damn well is dead, and Netanyahu had best attend to business here at home. In an attempt to appease nationalists with regard to Ulpana's partial demolition by July 1, he has made all sorts of pledges regarding building in Judea and Samaria, starting with 300 units in Beit El.
Already there are rumors that Netanyahu knew when he made this pledge for the 300 units that it would not be feasible: allegedly this is based on the opinion of Deputy Attorney General Mike Blass. Don't know if the rumors are true, but I do know that I'm uneasy, and concerned, lest he back down to show the international community our "sincere intent."
Minister of Security Affairs Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, in an interview with Mikor Rishon on Friday, said that:
"I helped formulate the outline on Ulpana. It would be a disaster if the 300 houses are not built. It would be a breach of trust towards me, towards the Prime Minister and towards the public."
This implies that Netanyahu didn't know when he made the pledge that it might not be feasible. But I cannot comment on this.
What does seem apparent already, however -- and this is a considerable disappointment -- is that the committee the prime minister promised to appoint to oversee settlement issues will not in any way impinge on the authority of Defense Minister Barak, although this was broadly understood in many quarters. (Was Netanyahu content to allow this misunderstanding to persist?)
According to Barak Ravid, writing in Haaretz:
"...an examination of the details of that submission [to the Cabinet of the plan for the committee] reveals that the defense minister's authority on West Bank issues remains untouched."
"'The decision does not diminish the prime minister and defense minister's authority, as stated in government decisions, according to which the defense minister has the authority to approve construction and planning in the West Bank,' Barnea-Farago [legal advisor to the Prime Minister's Office] wrote."
In addition to Netanyahu and Barak, those sitting on the committee will be Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Minister Benny Begin, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, and Environmental Protection Minster Gilad Erdan.
For further details: http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=57111
I want to call your attention here to an interview of Moshe Ya'alon with Ari Shavit in the Haaretz Magazine. It is in unofficial translation from the original Hebrew on the IMRA website.
The very significant core of it all is here (with all emphasis added):
Q:. Is the result that we already face the cruel dilemma of a bomb [in Iran's possession] or to bomb [Iran to prevent this]?
A: We're not there yet...The international community can still act firmly and decisively. There may be other developments too. But if the question is a bomb or to bomb [the] answer is clear: to bomb.
Q:. We survived the Cold War.... Is it not fair to say that just as Europe lived in the past with the Soviet bomb we could live in the future with the Shiite bomb?
A: No ...if Iran becomes nuclear, four - five other countries in the Middle East can become nuclear. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and other Arab states say that if Iran has the bomb also they need the bomb. The result will be a nuclear Middle East. A nuclear Middle East would not be stable... Nuclearization of Iran would lead to nuclear chaos.
The second answer to your question is a nuclear umbrella would allow Iran to achieve regional hegemony... Nuclear Iran could dominate the Persian Gulf energy sources and a very large share of world oil supplies. There would be far-reaching international implications...
The third answer to the third to your question is that one day the Iranian regime might use its nuclear capability it. That does not mean that the day after they have a bomb they send it on a plane or a missile and drop it on a western city. But there is a danger of using nuclear weapons by proxy. Terrorist organization with a dirty bomb could bring it into New York Harbor or the Port of London or the Port of Haifa. I also do not exclude the possibility of a direct nuclear weapons attack with missile. The risk is
indeed low but it exists. This extreme scenario is not impossible.
A Western observer takes the fantastic aspirations of the Iranian leadership with a grin. "What do they think, they will convert us to Islam?" The surprising answer is yes. They think they will convert us. The current regime in Tehran wants it that in the long run the Western world will become Muslim. Therefore we need to understand their rationale is completely different from our rationality. Concepts are different and the considerations are different. They are in no way like the former Soviet
Union...It is impossible to contain a nuclear Iran and achieve stability under such circumstances. The consequences of a nuclear Iran are intolerable.
Q: ...The feeling is that Israel cries wolf, is playing a sophisticated game of "hold me back".
A: There is one thing that...it is very important that speakers of English understand it: We are not bluffing. If political and economic pressure fails and other alternatives exhaust themselves and
Iran continues to race toward the bomb, it will require decisions.
Q: There is a danger the Iranian crisis will culminate in the coming year?
A: Once we talked about a decade. Then we talked about for years. Now we're
talking about months. ...