Saturday, April 04, 2009

West Bank threat growing

Growing scope of West Bank, Jerusalem attacks is no coincidence
Alex Fishman

In the wake of the murder of a boy in Bat Ayan Thursday, we shall again be reciting the cliché about the quiet in the West Bank being a case of artificial calm. And again, officials will be explaining to us that this was a spontaneous attack carried out by a local cell or single attacker and therefore it was very difficult to thwart.

However, the spontaneous attacks in recent months in Jerusalem and in the West Bank are not so few. They are increasingly becoming a sequence; a routine matter. For several months now, Israeli security officials have been pointing, with concern, to a regular and ongoing increase in the scope of attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Indeed, they still define the phenomena as "atmosphere attacks" that have no organizational, planning, or operational connection, yet the distance from a series of successful "atmosphere attacks" to a popular flare-up of the entire area could be very short.

If these glowing embers are not cooled off, the term "Intifada" may even be pulled out from the archives. After all, Hamas is hoping for this.

Indeed, arrests and interrogations carried out in the West Bank in recent months uncovered the fact that a significant number of the "sole attackers" were guided by masterminds from the Gaza Strip. Gaza and Hamas are the engine of the militant revival in the West Bank.

At this time, Hamas' efforts in the West Bank are mostly aimed at establishing a broad and effective political infrastructure. The arrests of senior Hamas figures in the West Bank are part of the battle which Israel and the Palestinian Authority are engaged in, in order to curb the rise in Hamas' political power in the area. It's clear to everyone that the moment Hamas' political infrastructure in the West Bank will be rebuilt, intense military activity will be premised on it. We're not there yet, but it's not too far off.

Even when the West Bank seemingly does not make security headlines, there is never a vacuum in our relationship with the Palestinians. Israeli officials like to highlight the fact that for the first time since the 2000 Intifada, the IDF removed the Hawara roadblock in Nablus; they prefer to talk less about the fumes of nationalistic fuel that have been accumulating in the West Bank since Operation Cast Lead.

Nationalistic zeal
We enjoy taking pleasure in the relatively effective operations of PA security arms and the dramatic decline in suicide attacks (the last terrorist who managed to carry out such attack did it back in April 2006 in Tel Aviv.) However, we are less interested in hearing about a terror cell in the Mesoa area, for example, which for a long time now had been operating at night and firing at random targets.

The West Bank is seeing the accumulation of immense energies of frustration and nationalistic zeal that are looking for an outlet. One of the manpower reservoirs that carry out these attacks are former Fatah activists. We are dealing with radicals who left the established groups and are trying to operate independently. It is possible that the cell operating in connection with the Bat Ayin terrorist came from such group of young radicals who are former Fatah activists.

Another problematic group operating in the West Bank comprises armed groups created by our old friend Mohammad Dahlan. His anxiety over Hamas' return and the prospects of an armed clash with Hamas in the West Bank taught Dahlan that he can only count on himself. Therefore, he surrounds himself with gunmen who provide security and safeguard his interests. However, these armed groups are not controlled by the Palestinian establishment. They too give rise to attackers who target Israelis.

The probe into the recent murder of two police officers in the Jordan Valley has not ended yet. The investigation into the car bombing attempt in the Haifa mall is not over either. Meanwhile, the scope of attacks in the West Bank is growing; this is no longer coincidental, spontaneous, or sporadic.

Thought I want to share with friends...‏



Many times I wonder how, the claiming to be intelligent world does not yet recognize that one of the Arabs/muslims key, mentality, culture and behavior component is creating lies that they then fervently believe in. When a muslim cleric goes on their TV screen and fabricates a lie it becomes the gospel truth they are prepare to die for... For instance: they created a lie that the Arabs living in Israel are ‘Palestinians’ and they are not but will not admit to the evidential truth; they created a lie that Starbucks Coffee logo is none but of the Jewish Queen Esther (the log portrays an image of a "twin-tailed siren" [the siren of Greek mythology]…was the Jewish Queen of Persia Esther a mermaid?!...give us a break, she was not; they also lie in their claim that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance while it is none but a religion living on the force of the sword…an unscrupulous religion of bloodshed that promotes, at large, evil and shuns the good…you got my drift?

In a world that good news hardly exist a Jew was once asked why he reads only anti-Jewish publications such as KKK and Islamic. He wisely responded: “If I read Jewish newspapers then all I read is bad news; how they hate us, Jews, and attack us everywhere. When I read the anti-Jewish ones all I read is good news: the Jews are rich, the Jews own the world, the Jews have unlimited power, and so on. What is better news to read?”

Based on the above I decided to put some anecdotes together for the audience to store in their memory bank:

It is time that the world demands of muslims to put their impoverished countries in order by providing their people with proper and affordable shelter, good health care and good education instead of wasting their time propagating hate over lies they fabricate.

It is time the Arabs/muslims stop looking for reasons to fight, to argue, to hold a grudge and thrive on spite, loathing and revenge, whether it is realistic, justified, or it is not. There is more to life than hating!

It is time that the Arabs/muslims realize that there is much more to life than death in order to meet 72 virgins; good deeds are done and are recognized while one is still alive!

It is time that the Arabs/muslims realize that they are doomed because they believe in the lies they invent. Such mindset is nothing but a detachment from reality and such detachment leads them to insane behavior. Living in a world of lie is the best camouflage to dealing with reality that, at most times, in the Arab/muslim world is very gloomy.

It is time that the Arabs/muslims realize that it is their leaders and religious clerics who deprive them of anything worth living for!

It is time that the Arabs/muslims realize that their leader and religious clerics do not want them to get a taste of the liberties the western world has to offer because they may want more of this. This more means no more obeying their leaders, rulers, dictators and religious cleric! Their leaders are afraid that the possibility of freedom of thoughts that awaits them beyond their leaders is the freedom their dictators will never allow them to have!

It is time that the muslims and non-muslims realize that the Islam religion is simply isolating their people from anything good in this world!

My advice to muslims is: begin thinking for yourselves and the success will follow. First step, burn the pages in the Qur’an that teach you the values of evilness.

We, the none muslims, must understand that 1400 years ago Islam may have had the intention of being a decent religion, but over the centuries, and certainly today, it represents an ideology and doctrine of supremacy, submission, intolerance, crime, rape and it does not contain any moral commandment, just pillars of obedience.

We, the none muslims, must understand the Arab/muslim mindset and the Dihimmi status: hence no other than the Islam religion shall ever be present in muslim land, no tolerance only elimination of the non-muslims. This is why there will never be peace with the muslims until they control the entire world under their rule.

We, the none muslims, must open our eyes and understand the terrifying spread of fascislamism terrorism against Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and all other non-Islamic religions.

We, the non-muslims, must become much more familiar with Arab/muslim culture, tradition and mindset. It is a different world where one can invent any lie that comes to mind and then believe in it. A world that does not believe in the law of cause and effect, meaning, that if they hit you and you hit back, you will be blamed for violence because they (deliberately) forgot that they were the cause.

We, the none muslims, must understand that the only ones, in recent history, who have planned to dominate the world were the Nazi's during WWII and now the Islamic Jihad with their holy war are progressing fast to repeat the Nazis despicable history.

We, the none muslims, must understand that the muslims are all about control within their society and beyond. Their leaders control their "Islamic world" with fear, isolation and violence, and they want to control the rest of us too and in the very same manner. If we let them they will!

We, the none muslims, especially Jews, must understand that to make a name for yourself in the world of Islam, you have to out do all the usual antisemitic moronic claims.

We, the none muslims, especially Jews, must understand that muslims need a scapegoat for their failures as countries and societies. The scapegoat is all that has to do with Jews and Israel and then the Western World.

I hope I said enough for the audience to get the drift. If you agree, pass this on to others.

Nurit Greenger

Friday, April 03, 2009

US Affairs: Unsettling buzz

Hilary Leila Krieger , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Obama administration has been taking advantage of the unusually long Israeli political interlude to bat away questions about how it will deal with a Binyamin Netanyahu-led coalition. The public record only makes it clear that the administration is looking forward to working with the new government of its important friend and ally, that it is committed to pursuing a two-state solution and that the settlements are viewed as facilitating neither. Indeed, on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first trip to Israel, her most content-full - and contentious - point was to chastise the country not merely for settlement expansion, but for destruction of Palestinian building, without permits, in Jerusalem.

With the government finally in place, and the Obama team eager to make its mark on the region, settlements are expected to come even more sharply into focus. Speculation is rampant in Washington that President Barack Obama will come out swiftly in favor of a halt in settlement construction - including, contrary to Israel's desires, a freeze on natural growth.

Part of what makes a strong stand on settlements attractive from the administration's perspective, for starters, is that it doesn't have a lot of other places it can go searching for results these days. After all, the Palestinian Authority is in disarray, as Fatah and Hamas wrestle for control; all the while, the rockets that continue to slam into the Negev make moves tinkering with security, particularly any sort of withdrawal, hard to envision.

When it comes to Netanyahu, who has expressed wariness about the Palestinian peace negotiations conducted by the previous government, and who has been having a tough time uttering the phrase "two-state solution," there is yet another brake light.

"It's pretty obvious that they feel like they can't really push him on final status," said one Washington-based veteran Middle East observer. "So they want to push him on deliverables."

And the deliverable of a settlement freeze, in the view of team Obama, could at least keep things from getting worse - and, as former peace envoy Dennis Ross (now a senior adviser mostly dealing with Iran issues) has been fond of arguing, even when the US isn't in a position to play dealmaker because the parties aren't ready, American can still serve an important function by managing the conflict.

"They want to make sure there's no continued erosion in the status quo, in the situation on the ground," said the Middle East expert, pointing to a settlement freeze as the best way to get there.

It also might be a way for the administration to handle its relationship with a coalition that is far from its ideal - heavily leaning to the right, with a full slate of haredi parties, and a foreign minister in the person of Avigdor Lieberman, commonly perceived outside of Israel as anti-Arab and bellicose.

THE OBAMA camp received some political cover when Labor joined the coalition and turned it into a national-unity consensus, allowing the US to breathe more easily when it stands beside Israel on the global stage. Still, aware that Lieberman is perceived as a liability from London to Riyadh, setting some firm ground rules in the form of settlement policy could help America withstand international charges of kowtowing to the Israeli Right.

Similarly, it could help the moderate Arab states deal with Israel as well.

An official with a dovish Israel organization argued that Arab governments will now need to show a real reason to engage, given the government makeup - a reason to keep their peace plan on the table: a settlement freeze.

"They won't do it otherwise," he said, adding that he believed the administration not only saw it as vital to making progress with the Arabs, but also to help lock in place the two-state solution and "speed up the irreversibility of the process," so that Netanyahu's ambivalence won't doom the two-state program.

"I think the administration sees this as an absolute necessity to getting anything done," he said of a settlement freeze.

WASHINGTON HAS been buzzing with similar assessments, especially among those who would most like to it see it happen, but also among some who are less supportive.

Ghaith al-Omari, advocacy director for the Washington-based Task Force on Palestine, talked about a consensus being articulated around town that "a settlement freeze is essential for preserving and sustaining the possibility of a two-state solution," and attributed that view to key congressmen, among others, many of whom are close to Obama.

"It's not coming from the usual suspects. It's coming from Jewish members who have impeccable credentials, from members who are known as being Israel's friends," he said.

In one of the more public recent displays, John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared that for decades America's policy opposing settlement expansion has "existed on paper alone."

"Nothing will do more to make clear our seriousness about turning the page than demonstrating - with actions rather than words - that we are serious about Israel's freezing settlement activity in the West Bank," he told a distinguished audience at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center.

Omari acknowledged that the Obama administration itself hasn't said much on the topic yet, but he and others see significance in the volume of the talk outside the administration that a firm stance on settlements is coming.

They point to the openness the administration has shown to voices on the left side of the Israeli political spectrum - inviting more of these organizations to participate in conference calls and meetings with officials, for instance - and the prominence which backers of such views had in Obama's presidential campaign.

Some are also calling attention to George Mitchell, whom Obama tapped to be his envoy on Israeli-Palestinian issues, and who once coauthored a government report urging a halt in settlement activity.

Yet when Mitchell was on the phone with some of those very Israeli and Jewish groups in February, he said that he would not "prejudge" the settlement issue, a surprise to many on the line.

Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union, for one, urges caution in reading too much into the Obama team's orientation at this point.

"There's been all sorts of speculation and punditry and hand-wringing, and they haven't tipped their hand one way or the other," said Diament, whose organization supports Israeli policy toward West Bank settlements, and considers Jerusalem an undivided city in whose eastern parts Jews should be allowed to build, despite the overwhelming Arab populations there. "I prefer to wait and see what happens, rather than speculate and expect."

The official word from the State Department? The administration's Middle East policy is still being reviewed, but settlement activity, according to a spokesman, is "unhelpful."
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1238562897189&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Axe-wielding Arab kills Jewish teen in Gush Etzion

The new Israeli government faced its first test on Thursday in how to respond to a Palestinian terror attack after an axe-wielding Arab man infiltrated the unfenced settlement of Bat Ayin, in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, killing a 16-year-old Jewish boy and wounding a 7-year-old child. The teenager, Shlomo Nativ, was declared dead on the scene, while the youngster, Yair Gamliel, is being treated for a fractured skull at a Jerusalem hospital. The terrorist was finally confronted by a local resident, but managed to get away and is still being sought by authorities.

Here's a response by a local israeli: I received this report from the ICEJ (International Christian Embassy Jerusalem) today; there is good cooperation between us and they are supportive of Israel. Today's review covers some points on which I want to comment.

No doubt, the words of Avigdor Lieberman have made it to the foreign press. Has the story of the axe wielding Arab terrorist been reported ? Often, the story will read something like this: 'Israeli settler killed in occupied territory". Few details added. This has happened before.

Abbas of the Pal.Authority has condemned Israel as 'racist and no partner for peace'. Anyone who has half a mind would understand that it is most of the Muslim/Arab countries that are racist - apartheid - not allowing members of other religions to be fully accepted citizens within their boundaries. Christians have left the Middle East because of the way they are treated in those countries - not the fault of Israel where one can see people of every ethnic group, color, religion, walking the streets freely where one can hear every language being spoken.

'No partner for peace'? While Abbas refused to disarm and disband terrorist groups per agreements, Israel has been pressured into making 'painful concessions in the interest of peace'. Four northern Israeli communities in the Shomron and 22 others in Gush Katif were abandoned with unending trauma; a thriving business -complete with greenhouses - was handed over to help the Palestinian Arabs have a start at their economy. It was met with gleeful destruction of those greenhouses as well as Jewish houses of worship.
And Israel is not a 'partner for peace'?

Despite all of this and the threats of destruction of Israel, when an Israeli minister objects to the creation of yet another terrorist apartheid state in the heart of the Jewish heartland, it is he who is condemned! Mindless former Israeli figures who were in office and forced the 'painful concessions' with no thought about the dangerous consequences, lose no opportunity to quickly condemn the minister in the utterances which match those of Israel's vicious enemies. When they were in office they refrained from well-deserved condemnation of the murderers of our children but rather made excuses for the killers; more concessions would, no doubt, be a solution! After all, are we not 'occupiers of Palestinian land'?

Did they ever ask who defines the 'territory' and why has 'Palestinian' become synonymous with 'Arab'? Does anyone remember that less than 100 years ago the land west of the Jordan River - today's 'Palestine' was to be the homeland for the Jewish people? Or that until 1948 Jews in the land were also called 'Palestinians' - for 2000 years long before the birth of Islam?

And so the conflict continues as Israel fights for her national survival - with real sacrifices along the way - like today's victim. We have not lost our humanity; how can we not mourn the senseless, vicious murder of an innocent teenager and the injuries to another child. Each person is precious to his/her family and to the people of Israel. Another family will cry forever................another name added to the annals of Israel's victims of terror.

Op-Ed: Apartheid in Israel? The facts say otherwise

Reda Mansour

ATLANTA (JTA) -- A few years ago I began an initiative at the Israeli Foreign Ministry aimed at opening a dialogue with Muslim communities in the West. When the first delegations of European and American Muslims started to arrive, they were amazed at the coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Israel. For many outside of Israel, their perception of the country has been framed by the international media. They have allowed their opinions to be shaped by a constant stream of pictures and articles with one main idea: Between Arabs and Jews there can be only hatred and violence.

With this mind-set, the delegates traveled to Haifa, Israel, one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, a place where beauty is about more than geography. In Haifa, the Muslim delegations visited a major university with an Arab Muslim vice president and many Arab students. They went to markets and offices and observed Arabs and Jews peacefully going about their simple daily lives.

The delegations heard the call to prayer of the muezzin. They visited the mosque of the Ahmadi Islamic sect, Muslims persecuted in many parts of the world who have flourished in Israel, and traveled near the world Baha’i religious center, a faith persecuted in Iran. They met some of the more than 100 Islamic family court judges and talked with the imams who provide religious services; both groups are paid by the Israeli government.

In a regular Israeli parliament session, there are an average of 15 Arab members, some of whom are part of self-proclaimed Zionist parties. Israel has Arab members of parliament and in the Cabinet; it has Arab ambassadors and high-ranking Arab officers in the military.

Yet despite examples of diversity like these, some critics persist in trying to apply the terrible adjective of apartheid to the State of Israel.
The facts on the ground, however, show nothing even remotely close to a racist system. For while one can claim that Arabs in Israel do not receive enough government attention or investment in their community, or one can argue that the situation for Israeli Arabs is sensitive as a minority in a country that has gone to war with its Arab neighbors, all of these issues are political and have nothing to do with race.

There is no apartheid in Israel. Nor is there apartheid in Gaza and the West Bank. The territories came under Israeli control in 1967 following the Six-Day War, and over the next 20 years Israel controlled them with nearly no security measures: almost no checkpoints, no fences and no controlled roads.

However, during the first Palestinian uprising in 1987 and again during the 1990s, Israel was forced to toughen its security measures. The country had to protect its citizens because the terrorists of Hamas made suicide bombing their tactic of choice and shopping malls, night clubs, schools and hotels their primary targets.

Before the uprising began, more then 120,000 Palestinians worked in Israel. In every Palestinian household there was at least one person who worked in Israel. The workers entered the country freely and their standard of living was among the highest in the Middle East.

Only after 25 years of controlling the territories and having its citizens targeted by terror did Israel begin to institute the security measures that some are trying to call “apartheid.” That is why it has been so hard to make the charges stick. Israel, like any other country, is not perfect. The country and its diverse population still admittedly face political and security issues. But apartheid? You must be joking.

Israel and the international community are ready for Palestinian freedom and independence. The question is, are the Palestinians?

The greatest problem facing the Palestinians today is not Israel or illusionary “apartheid” but a lack of unified and visionary leadership. Palestinians need to understand that violent action will never yield the results they want and that serving as a useful distraction for the regime in Tehran will never bring prosperity.

The Palestinians need to produce their own Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi -- a leader who will demonstrate to them that nonviolence is a much more successful tool for freedom and coexistence.

(Reda Mansour is an Israeli Druze and the current consul general of Israel to the southeastern United States. Mansour, the author of award-winning poems and short stories, is a longtime activist for dialogue between Israelis and Arabs.)

Bias in black and white

Yoav Sivan

Imagine that Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero relied exclusively for his knowledge of Middle East affairs on El Pais, his country's flagship newspaper. During his visit to Israel in January, he might have been bewildered when he arrived in the capital for meetings. What are we doing in Jerusalem, he may have asked. Indeed, El Pais consistently refers to Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. While the Knesset and other national institutions sit in Jerusalem, the paper insists on reporting that "Tel Aviv decided" or "Tel Aviv rejected." Lest there be any doubts about the bias here, the "fact box" that appears beside any story about Israel on the El Pais Web site states clearly, "Capital: Tel Aviv."

That's the least of it. Consider a cartoon published during the recent Gaza campaign, depicting a figure saying, "Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, not the Israelis. The Hebrew myths are false, and abuse of the weak is disgusting." To whom a Jewish man with a hooked nose responds, "We are the people chosen by the God we ourselves invented."

El Pais is regularly filled as well with references comparing Israel to the Nazis. When riots broke out between Jews and Arabs last year in Acre, an article entitled "Acre: An Attempted Pogrom," described "segregation that evokes Nazism." The article, by Juan Miguel Munoz, the paper's Israel correspondent, was framed as a tale in which Acre's Jews played the role of the Nazis, while the Arabs became the Jews. An op-ed published in December 2008 read: "Every year we remember the horror of the Jewish Holocaust committed by the Nazis during World War II, but we do nothing about the genocide that Israel is committing against the Palestinian people."

Israel's actions should not be exempt from international scrutiny, but given the range of wrongdoing humanity is capable of, why is the vocabulary used by the Spanish paper to describe it so remarkably limited?

Even in minor stories unrelated to the conflict, El Pais displays a unique combination of sloppiness and unapologetic hatred for Israel. Take the February 2008 decision by Israel's attorney general to grant broader adoption rights to same-sex couples. Few stories about Israel are more conducive to neutral - let alone favorable - coverage in Spain, a leader in gay rights. But El Pais turned the ruling into the achievement of a community that "suffers flagrant discrimination" in a clerically dominated state.

The example provided of that discrimination was an inaccurate account of Jerusalem's annual gay parade, generally viewed as an achievement of Israel's LGBT community. Among other examples, one illustration of the ostensibly oppressive encroachment by religious authorities on individual rights was the fact that Israeli hospitals separate cutlery for dairy and meat because of kashrut.

It is of little interest to El Pais that Israel's LGBT community has enjoyed increasing acceptance. Indeed, not everything is perfect. As a former board member of the Jerusalem Open House, which organizes the gay parade, I know the difficulties encountered by the community. But Israel's situation is much closer to that in Spain than in Saudi Arabia.

To be fair, El Pais is not alone. Consider the opinion piece by Antonio Gala, a highly regarded poet and novelist, that appeared in February in El Mundo, Spain's second-largest newspaper in terms of circulation. With undisguised anti-Semitism, Gala justified the hardships Jews have undergone throughout history. "Just as these things happened on other occasions - pogroms, voluntary or non-voluntary ghettos, exterminations, persecutions, expulsions," Gala wrote, "shouldn't they [the Jews] ask themselves why they always happen the same way? Or is it the rest of the world that is mistaken?"

Recently, the leftist Internet publication El Plural offered a political analysis comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. Its title leaves little room for mistake: "The mind of the extermination of the Palestinians is no different than the one that designed Nazi Germany."

The recent visit of Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero in Jerusalem showed that Spain is eager to play a bigger role in the region, especially after the change of government in Washington. But Spanish engagement may not be welcomed in Israel in light of a survey last spring by Washington's Pew Global Attitude Project, according to which 46 percent of Spaniards view Jews unfavorably - the highest proportion in Europe - and due to the shallow conception of Israel perpetuated and aggravated by Spain's leading newspaper, and the general use in Spanish media of anti-Semitic images.

If you want to criticize effectively, you need to get the facts right. And if you want to be taken seriously, you need to show good faith. But the venomous disregard for the truth makes Spanish criticism of Israel banal and misses important issues. This simplistic anti-Israel narrative represents not a noble struggle for human rights, but rather a contamination of both journalism and the great democracy that the newspaper serves.

Spain, like Israel, deserves better.

Yoav Sivan is a journalist and communications consultant and former LGBT coordinator of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

His Web site is

Terror and the UNRWA

Anav Silverman

In recent years, billions of dollars have poured into Gaza from hundreds of countries and international organizations. How much of that money has actually reached Palestinian civilians, effectively improving their quality of life and economy, has yet to be completely determined thanks to vague audits and on-line information.

Only recently, with a relatively silent international press, have there been questions from top political leaders, primarily from US, about the way in which the donor money will be transferred into Gaza. At an Egyptian donor’s conference organized by Norway and Egypt in early March, more than 75 international donors and organizations met to announce their financial support of the reconstruction in Gaza. Over $5.2 billion were pledged at the conference, surprising the Palestinian Authority who originally called for $2.8 billion needed to build-up Gaza.

In light of the US pledge of $900 million, the second largest following Saudi Arabia‘s $1 billion at the conference, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated that no US funds earmarked for Gaza would end up in the “wrong hands.”

By wrong hands, Clinton meant Hamas, the militant Islamist Palestinian party in complete control of the Gaza Strip. Over $300 million dollars of the US pledge money will be going to Gaza reconstruction, while the rest of the $600 million has been earmarked to Palestinian Authority‘s Mahmoud Abbas.

However, there is another set of “wrong hands” in this scenario through which the transfer of funds may very well pass through, hands that are not considered a neutral player in the Arab-Israeli conflict. US State department spokesman, Gordon Duguid stated that Gaza support would be provided through USAID, in coordination with UN agencies that will most likely include UNRWA.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency, established in 1949 to aid Palestinian refugees, has shown dangerous partiality to Hamas terrorists.

In 2004, former UNRWA commissioner-General Peter Hansen revealed to the Canadian Broadcasting Company that UNRWA may very well employ Hamas members. “I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don’t see that as crime,” Hansen infamously stated. He further added, that “We do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another.”

UNRWA has employed several high profile terrorists which include top Islamic Jihad rocket maker, Awad Al-Qiq who was killed in an Israeli air strike last May 2008. Al-Qiq was the headmaster and science instructor at an UNRWA school in Rafah, Gaza. Another terrorist, Hamas’s interior minister and head of the Executive Force, Said Siyam, was a teacher for over two decades in UNRWA schools.

Fox News recently reported that UNRWA does not ask its employees whether they are members of, or affiliated with, a terrorist organization such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. UNRWA also offers no formal screening to ensure that its employees are not affiliated with terrorist organizations.

During Operation Cast Lead, UNRWA officials accused Israel of firing into an UNRWA school, killing dozens of Palestinian civilians seeking refuge. Israel maintained that Palestinian rocket launchers locate next to the school had fired mortars on IDF soldiers, which prompted the army's response. Later, UN official Maxwell Gaylord, reversed the UN’s stance stating that the shelling and fatalities had actually taken place outside of the school. But the media damage to Israel had already been done.

Jonathan Halevi, a former IDF intelligence officer who specializes in Palestinian terrorist organizations, recently told Fox News that he estimates that 60 percent of homicide bombers are educated in UNRWA schools. Past UNRWA textbooks blatantly deny the Jewish connection to Israel and are filled with anti-Semitic remarks.

In any case, the United States remains UNRWA’s largest sponsor, providing the organization with over 75% of its initial budget according to UNRWA‘s former senior legal advisor, James Lindsay. Lindsay, who served as an attorney for the US Justice Department for two decades asserts in his publication for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which came out on January 29 that UNRWA is providing services to those who are actually not in need of them.

Almost the 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan have Jordanian citizenship and are fully eligible for government services, but are continuing to receive UNRWA assistance as the agency regards them as refugees, according to Lindsay‘s report.

Michael Danby, a longstanding legislator in the Australian Parliament has also accused UNRWA of being “notoriously corrupt. “ Since 2007, Australia has provided $30 million in funding for the Palestinians through the UNRWA agency, which Danby accused of diverting funds to “arms purchase, terrorist operations, and anti-Israel incitement as well as into the pockets of the PA leadership.“

“It is a betrayal of that generosity [by Australians] for this money to be wasted, stolen, or misspent on rockets, guns, and terrorism,” Danby said one month ago to the Australian Federal Parliament on February 26.

Other countries actively fundraising for Gaza include France, who hosted a Paris donors conference for Palestinian Authority‘s President Mahmoud Abbas in December 2007. The conference raised over 7.4 billion dollars in Palestinian aid (for a three year period: 2008-2010) from over 90 countries and international organizations that attended. During 2008, over 3 billion dollars pledged at the conference were distributed through the PA.

But that’s not all. By mid-January 2009, TV stations across the Arab world collected over half a billion dollars in a telethon for Gaza, according to Johan Eriksson, a spokesperson for the U.N.

As the Gaza Strip soon teems with money, world donors and leaders must ask the following question: Who will monitor the transfer of these funds and account that they are indeed effectively used for Gaza reconstruction and not for restoring the Hamas terrorist infrastructure?
Anav Silverman is a correspondent for the Sderot Media Center in Sderot.

Obama reiterates support for Saudi peace initiative

Apr. 3, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

US President Barack Obama reiterated his support for the Saudi Mideast peace initiative in a meeting with King Abdullah on Thursday night, the White House said in a statement.

The February 2002 initiative calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories taken in the Six Day War, including east Jerusalem, and a "just settlement" to the Palestinian refugee crisis in exchange for normalizing ties with the Arab world. The leaders "reaffirmed the long-standing, strong relationship between the two countries," continued the statement after the two met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in London.

"They discussed international cooperation regarding the global economy, regional political and security issues, and cooperation against terrorism," it added.

Earlier Thursday, a US official stressed that while it may not be easy, his country would push hard for the continuation of the peace process and for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"We're going to be working hard to see what we can do to move the process forward. But we're under no illusions. It's not going to be easy," Reuters quoted US State Department spokesman Robert Wood as saying.

Wood explained that the Obama administration was interested in pursuing the two-state solution "because we believe it's in the best interests of all the parties in the region."

"We have to engage constantly and remind the parties of their obligations and to try to set up a framework, a process for getting us toward that goal of a two-state solution," Wood added.

Wood went on to say that new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was "well aware" of the US position.

On Wednesday, Lieberman told Foreign Ministry employees gathered for a changing of the guard ceremony that "there is one document that obligates us - and that's not the Annapolis conference, it has no validity."

The Annapolis process is posited on the idea of negotiating a final status agreement now, which would then be placed on a shelf until a later time when it would became clear that the Palestinians could control the security situation on the ground.

"We will never agree to jump over all the clauses and go to the last one, which is negotiations over a final status agreement," Lieberman said. He noted that the agreement included dismantling terrorist infrastructure and setting up working, effective functioning Palestinian institutions.

The US State Department spokesman on Thursday also announced that US special envoy to the Middle East, former Sen. George Mitchell, is set go to the region soon.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to visit Washington soon, possibly as early as next month, an Israeli official told Reuters.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1238562898221&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Comment: I would state this over and over again-the state of Israel appreciates the unconditional support of Israel-put the pressure back on the USA government -we must counter the ramping up of international pressure-you see, the West "supports srael" as long as Israel plays ball by the West's rules! We must stop this dialogue immediately!

Bat Ayin rabbi: We're not seeking revenge

Residents of West Bank settlement gather for meeting on Thursday's deadly terror attack, several hours after 13-year-old Shlomo Nativ's funeral. 'I didn't see rage, I saw pain,' Rabbi Daniel Cohen tells Ynet
Daniel Edelson

Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Thursday night continued searching for the terrorist who murdered 13-year-old Shlomo Nativ in the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin in the Gush Etzion communities. While the forces went from house to house in the Palestinian villages adjacent to the settlement, the residents of Bat Ayin gathered Thursday evening for a meeting with the community's rabbi, Daniel Cohen, in an attempt to deal with their pain.

Talking to Ynet, Cohen spoke of the emotionally charged meeting, during which he called on his friends to practice restraint and refrain from acts of revenge.

"I spoke to the residents about our pain and grief, about the strength we're getting and the complete faith we have in our right to be here in Israel," the rabbi said. "I explained to them that God sometimes picks roses from the garden, brings them over, and that's it's the righteous youths of all people which he takes."

Some 50 people took part in the meeting, which was held after Nativ was laid to rest.

The attack also left seven-year-old Yair Gamliel moderately injured. He is still hospitalized at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital and suffers from fractured skull.

His father, a member of the extreme right-wing Bat Ayin Underground, who is serving a prison sentence for attempting to blow up a cart outside an Arab hospital and a girls' school in east Jerusalem, turned down an offer by the Israel Prison Service to visit his son handcuffed and under tight security.

The defense establishment believes it is most likely that the terrorist who carried out the attack acted on his own. One of the residents struggled with him and tried to stop him, but the assailant fled to one of the nearby Palestinian villages.

According to the rabbi, the residents of Bat Ayin don't fear the terrorist's return, but "they're definitely afraid that other murderers will be sent over and that the Arab culture will continue to encourage them."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was briefed on the attack on Thursday. His office said in a statement that "Netanyahu views the attack with tremendous severity, and has instructed the security officials to exert every effort in order to capture the murderer."

Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Oshri, deputy commander of the Etzion Division, said after the terror attack that the IDF had "a lead" and estimated that the terrorist would be caught shortly, but the search continues.

According to the community's rabbi, everyone must be patient. "I didn't even think about a failure on the part of the IDF. I am certain that they did the best they could."

'A great, gentle family'

The Bat Ayin settlement is not fenced. Following the attack, the residents came up with ideas to improve the security, but they have no plans to set up a fence around the community.

"No one believes a fence will solve anything," said Cohen. "It's a sort of delusion. It takes about 20 seconds to cut a fence and enter through it. It does create a sense of security, but does not help as a defensive force."

According to the rabbi, one of the suggestions was to place cameras and observation means. "We spoke about adding self-defense measures," he said.

Following the attack, different people expressed their fear of act of revenge. According to Cohen, however, the meeting's attendees did not discuss this possibility.

"I didn't see any anger. I saw pain. The only response to the murder of our sons is to add one community after another and cause deterrence. This was fully accepted. There was not a single person who protested this. I don't know what is going on in my friends' hearts, I'm not God, but I believe everyone agrees about this. I did not hear one word about taking revenge."

Before meeting with the residents, Rabbi Cohen visited the Nativ family in order to console the bereaved. "I was there for a long time. A great, gentle and deep family. They're sitting there in their small living room with the eight remaining children, pleasantly and silently."

Efrat Weiss contributed to this report

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Time to change course

Yoel Ben-Nun

Part 2 of op-ed

When it comes to the cultural-political language of the Arabs, "peace" does not mean compromise as the Jews think, but rather, "regaining due rights" (Arab rights, of course.) Until we explicitly demand Arab recognition – not of our very existence, but rather, of our right to exist in this country as a people returning to its historical land – there will be no chance for peace. To my regret, the Israeli Left gave up on the chance for peace, just like the Israeli Right gave up on the chance to realize our hold on the Land of Israel over time.

Now, everything is on the shoulders of incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His election success and his even greater success in forming the government while facing difficult political obstacles will not be enough. We need complete national leadership, on all fronts. The new PM needs to build broad Israeli consensus, based on a serious internal discourse that is incisive and operative.

Netanyahu's order of priority is first and foremost socioeconomic, yet Israel's enemies will not wait long before they put him to the test of making decisions. Our wonderful intelligence officials will try to thwart threats as much as they can, yet we need to proceed on the assumption that not everything can be averted and that the test will come; possibly very soon.

Is the incoming prime minister of Israel thinking of undertaking genuine diplomatic change? If so, this is the time for it. We need to put on the table justice vis-à-vis justice and rights vis-à-vis rights; and only later security vis-à-vis security, peace vis-à-vis peace, land vis-à-vis land, home vis-à-vis home, and ceasefire vis-à-vis ceasefire. For example, the 1967 borders are not based on justice, and yet another Arab-Palestinian state without any Jew in it will not bring peace.

New approach- on Shalit front

On the Gilad Shalit front there is also an opportunity to undertake change. The principles of honor are the language of the Middle East. Human dignity is about freedom, but it should be one person in exchange for one person! Let them choose any one person they wish to release. Only after an honorable release, one person in exchange for one person, can we conduct negotiations on a broad prisoner release, in line with clear criteria of justice. For example, those who are unjustly being held by us should be freed soon.

In order to convince others to change direction and path, one must insist on one's principles for a long time without shifting positions, and without putting out feelers. The current system is hurting us and our future instead of helping. Will you, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have the strength to undertake a change?

I am going back to the same Psalms section I gave Olmert. It ends with peace that features economic prosperity and security, but only after the difficult tests ahead are met. Many Torah followers are currently supporting Netanyahu, but to my regret that too may change.

In any case, we shall pray for your success, for the sake of the people of Israel in its country, with God's help.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Incoming Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Ministerial Inauguration Ceremony, April 1, 2009

Good afternoon, honorable outgoing Foreign Minister, honorable outgoing Deputy Foreign Minister, incoming Deputy Foreign Minister, Director-General Ministry employees, honored guests,.

When my fellow students and I studied international relations, and learned what an international system is, we learned that there is a State and there are international organizations and all kinds of global economic corporations. Things have changed since then and, unfortunately, in the modern system, there are countries that are semi-states. It is hard to call a country like Somalia a State in the full sense of the word and the same holds true for the various autonomies in Eastern Europe, in the Balkans and here as well. It is even hard to call a country like Iraq a State in the full sense of the word. And even worse, there are now international players that are irrational, like the Al Qaeda organization. And we can certainly also ask if the leader of a strong and important country like Iran is a rational player. In my view, we must explain to the world that the priorities of the international community must change, and that all the previous benchmarks - the Warsaw Pact, the NATO Alliance, socialist countries, capitalist countries - have changed. There is a world order that the countries of the free world are trying to preserve, and there are forces, or countries or extremist entities that are trying to violate it.

The claim that what is threatening the world today is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a way of evading reality. The reality is that the problems coming from the direction of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

What is important is to maintain global and regional stability. Egypt is definitely an important country in the Arab world, a stabilizing factor in the regional system and perhaps even beyond that, and I certainly view it as an important partner. I would be happy to visit Egypt and to host Egyptian leaders here, including the Egyptian Foreign Minister - all based on mutual respect.

I think that we have been disparaging many concepts, and we have shown the greatest distain of all for the word “peace.” The fact that we say the word “peace” twenty times a day will not bring peace any closer. There have been two governments here that took far-reaching measures: the Sharon government and the Olmert government. They took dramatic steps and made far-reaching proposals. We have seen the disengagement and witnessed the Annapolis accord. I read in the newspaper about the dramatic proposals made by the Prime Minister to the other side, which I do not think have ever been made, outside of Barak’s visit to Camp David. Yisrael Beiteinu was not then part of the coalition, Avigdor Lieberman was not the Foreign Minister and we even if we wanted to, we would have been unable to prevent the arrival of peace. But I do not see that it brought peace. To the contrary. We have seen that during this period, after all the gestures that we made, after all the dramatic steps we took and all the far reaching proposals we presented, in the past few years this country has gone through wars - the Second War in Lebanon and Operation Cast Lead – and not because we choose to. I have not seen peace here. It is precisely when we made all the concessions that I saw the Durban Conference, I saw two countries in the Arab world suddenly sever relations, recalling their ambassadors – Mauritania and Qatar. Qatar suddenly became extremist.

We are also losing ground every day in public opinion. Does anyone think that concessions, and constantly saying “I am prepared to concede,” and using the word “peace” will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure, and more and more wars. Si vis pacem, para bellum, which means, if you want peace, prepare for war – be strong.

We definitely want peace, but the other side also bears responsibility. We have proven this more than any other country in the world. No country has made concessions the way that Israel has. Since 1977, we have given up areas of land three times the size of the State of Israel. So we have proven the point.

The Oslo process began in 1993. 16 years have passed since then and I do not see that we are any closer to a permanent settlement. There is one document that binds us and it is not the Annapolis Conference. That has no validity. When we drafted the basic government policy guidelines, we certainly stated that we would honor all the agreements and all the undertakings of previous governments. The continuity of government is respected in Israel. In the cabinet I voted against the Road Map, but that was the only document approved by the cabinet and by the Security Council - I believe as Resolution 1505. It is a binding resolution and it binds this government as well.

The Israeli government never ratified the Annapolis accord. Neither the cabinet nor the Knesset ever ratified it, so anyone who wants to amuse himself can continue to do so. I have seen all the proposals made so generously by Ehud Olmert, but I have not seen any result.

So we will therefore act exactly according to that document, the Road Map, including the Tenet document and the Zinni document. I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses – I believe there are 48 of them - and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four - dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full, including - as I said - the Zinni document and the Tenet document. I am not so sure that the Palestinian Authority or even we - in those circles that espouse peace so much, are aware of the existence of the Tenet and Zinni documents.

When was Israel at its strongest in terms of public opinion around the world? After the victory of the Six Day War, not after all the concessions in Oslo Accords I, II, III and IV. Anyone who wants to maintain his status in public opinion must understand that if he wants respect, he must first respect himself. I think that, at least from our standpoint, that will be our policy.

I try as far as possible to act in an orderly manner and with maximum transparency. At the start of my term in the Foreign Ministry, I see a need to clearly define objectives. Just as there is an objective for inflation which the cabinet determines and approves each year, foreign policy must also have clear and measurable objectives. The first task will be to create that document - the Objectives of Israeli Foreign Policy - and each week, each month, we will examine our progress.

I am certain that we will cooperate in our work here. I am telling you in advance that we are going to work hard and usually, when you work hard, you also benefit. I thank you in advance and I want to wish everyone, including the outgoing Foreign Minister, a happy and kosher Passover holiday. Thank you.

מח' מידע ואינטרנט – אגף תקשורת

"The Other Side of the Gov't Coin"

Arlene Kushner

Yesterday I expressed my sense of letdown at the formation of the new government. Today I wish to express something else completely different.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was sworn in late last night, after which he addressed the Knesset.

"It is not with a victor's joy that I stand here today in front of you, but with a great sense of responsibility," he said. I ask for your trust at this time of worldwide crisis of a kind we haven't known before, and it is with a sense of worry, but also with hope and faith..."


As someone who lies awake at night contemplating "that worldwide crisis of a kind we haven't known before...," I find myself keenly attuned to what Netanyahu was saying.

The prime minister then addressed two key concerns facing us: The economy and the attempt by Iran to achieve nuclear weapons.

That's getting priorities right. As to Iran, he said, "The Jewish people has experience with dictators and it cannot overestimate megalomaniac dictators who threaten to destroy it."

The worst thing for the State of Israel and the world would be "that a radical regime obtains nuclear weapons."


Netanyahu just gave an interview to Atlantic magazine in which addressed this very issue. He said the Obama administration had a mission to prevent Iran from going nuclear, but if it failed to do so, Israel might be forced to resort to a military strike on Iran's military installations.

"You don't want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.

"...Iran is a composite leadership, but in that composite leadership there are elements of wide-eyed fanaticism that do not exist right now in any other would-be nuclear power in the world. That's what makes them so dangerous. Since the dawn of the nuclear age, we have not had a fanatic regime that might put its zealotry above its self-interest."


He is correct, and what I'm seeing is that he is telling it straight. Talking tough to America, actually: saying they have a job to do and they must be on notice that we will do it if they do not.

No tone of submission to the US, no attempt to be conciliatory and "reach out a hand" to the world.

This is encouraging.

It is refreshing, as well, to note that he didn't -- à la Olmert and Livni and Peres -- say that our top priority was to give away half our land to form a Palestinian state.

Oh, he spoke about dealing with the Palestinians. But he said that the failure to make peace with them was not the fault of our leaders. Implied: the PA hasn't really wanted it.

Again, he's correct.

And he reiterated his position: that we will give them all the rights to rule themselves, except for those that endanger Israel. That's a whole lot of (figurative) territory.


And so I found myself thinking that Netanyahu is entitled to some modicum of trust from the Israeli people -- some space that allows him to demonstrate what he can do and the directions in which he can take us.


There's another reason why I think this, another problem of huge dimensions that he must confront, but that he didn't mention explicitly.

The world is at us. As never before, there are international attempts to delegitimize us and weaken us and challenge our rights. This is part of what keeps me awake at night.

And I'm convinced that we here inside of Israel must not be part of that chorus that would weaken the new government. The world hears every word, and turns it on us. This has been demonstrated time and time again.

I don't want to see Binyamin Netanyahu on the defensive now. I want to take stances that will stiffen his spine and let him know that we want him to stand strong against the world. And that we are with him as he does so.


The new government was presented to the Knesset last night, which passed it 69 to 45, with five abstentions (a protest from Labor MKs Shelly Yacimovich, Eitan Cabel, Yuli Tamir, Amir Peretz and Ophir Pines-Paz).

The only member of the Knesset absent was Ahmad Tibi, of United Arab List-Ta'al. And where was he, precisely? At the Arab League meeting in Qatar. Hopefully, we have not heard the last on this.

The list of members of the government is at the bottom of this posting.


And this is a sampling of what we must cope with:

According to Khaled Abu Toameh, senior Hamas officials in Gaza reported yesterday that Switzerland and Norway are spearheading European efforts to engage Hamas.

Ahmed Yussef, a political advisor in Hamas's Foreign Ministry, said the two countries were "leading the change in Europe's position vis-à-vis the Islamic movement." While another Hamas official said that Hamas sensed a "real change" in the attitude of some EU countries.

Of course, the Europeans at this point are urging that Hamas renounce violence, accept the two-state solution and recognize Israel's right to exist. But mark my words, now that the shift in thinking has begun, these demands will not hold. Hamas, said Yussef, responded by expressing its readiness to reach a long-term truce with Israel. Eventually, some permutation of this will be seen as sufficient. A long-term truce? Hey, implicitly then, Hamas is recognizing Israel and renouncing violence, no?


Understand that at the same time that the Europeans are inching towards recognition of Hamas, they are jumping on the bandwagon to criticize the new Israeli administration for refusing to overtly embrace that "two state solution."

It's perverse and upside down and we must cope with it.


Abbas, of course, is milking this for all he can. At the Arab summit, he declared:

"The Palestinians must tell the world that Netanyahu does not believe in peace, so how can we cooperate with him? We must push the ball to the international court so that the countries of the world put pressure on him."

The world will be happy to oblige, while turning a blind eye to the fact that the PA textbooks still teach jihad and that Abbas has refused to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

This last, by the way, was right before Annapolis began. Olmert said he wouldn't negotiate if Abbas wouldn't recognize this, but then, under pressure from the US, he did so anyway.

This would be a good place for Netanyahu to start.


Our new (32nd) government:
Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) Prime Minister, Health, Pensioners, Economic Strategy
Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) Vice Premier and Minister for Strategic Affairs
Silvan Shalom (Likud) Vice Premier, Regional Development and Development of the Negev and Galil
Ehud Barak (Labor) Defense and Deputy Prime Minister
Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister
Yuval Steinitz (Likud) Finance
Eli Yishai (Shas) Interior
Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) Education
Ya'akov Neeman (Independent) Justice
Binyamin Ben Eliezer (Labor) Industry and Trade
Ariel Atias (Shas) Construction and Housing
Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beitenu) Internal Security
Yisrael Katz (Likud) Transportation
Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beitenu) Infrastructures
Shalom Simhon (Likud) Agriculture
Moshe Kahlon (Likud) Communications
Yuli Edelstein (Likud) Diaspora Affairs
Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitenu) Tourism
Gilad Erdan (Likud) Environment
Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) Science
Sopa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu) Immigration
Limor Livnat (Likud) Culture
Ya'acov Margi (Shas) Religious Affairs
Michael Eitan (Likud) Gov't Services
Dan Meridor (Likud) Intelligence Agencies
Avishay Braverman (Labor) Minorities
Isaac Herzog (Labor) Welfare
Meshulam Nahari (Shas) Minister without Porfolio (In PMO's office?)
Bennie Begin (Likud) Minister without Portfolio
Yossi Peled (Likud) Minister without Portfolio

There is still the question of who will sit on the more limited Security Cabinet

Deputy Ministers:

Yitzchak Cohen (Shas) – Finance
Gila Gamliel (Likud) – PM’s Office
Leah Ness (Likud) – Pensioners Affairs
Ayoub Kara (Likud) Development of the Negev and Galil
Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beiteinu) - Foreign Ministry
Matan Vilnai (Labor) – Defense
Orit Noked (Labor) – Industry and Trade

UTJ has just signed a coalition agreement and will have two deputy ministers in Health and Education (not clear who will assume these posts -- Moshe Gafni will chair the Knesset Finance Committee)

Chair of the Likud faction (in the Knesset): Ze'ev Elkin

Speaker of the Knesset: Ruby Rivlin (Likud)

see my website

New Israeli Government: More Convergence Than Division

David Makovsky

On March 31, Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu will be sworn in as Israel's next prime minister almost a decade after the end of his first premiership. Although American media has focused on the cabinet inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, the more important policy news is Ehud Barak's continued tenure as defense minister. While Barak and Netanyahu come from different sides of the political aisle, they appear to share common views on Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Barak, a familiar figure to senior U.S. officials, may also help Netanyahu avoid escalating tension with Washington.
Composition of the New Government

The Likud-led government will include 69 members of the 120-member Knesset (Israeli parliament) and feature as many as 30 cabinet ministers -- the most in Israeli history. Netanyahu's main failure since the election has been his inability to coax outgoing foreign minister Tzipi Livni, leader of the 28-member Kadima Party, to join his coalition. Livni refused Netanyahu's invitation, citing his unwillingness to commit to peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution.

While many American observers have noted the novelty of Lieberman -- the blunt-spoken, controversial head of the Russian immigrant party and the new foreign minister -- and the possibility that he will lead Israel more to the right, Israeli commentators believe he will be less consequential, especially as potential indictments loom on the horizon. In fact, there is reason to believe the anchors of the coalition will be Netanyahu and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak. In Israel, the defense minister is the military governor of the West Bank and wields much greater authority over regional security issues than does the foreign minister, who in the past has often been left out of the decisionmaking process.

Netanyahu and Barak: Commandos Unite

Netanyahu and Barak have many similarities. Both were elected prime minister in the 1990s, and both were soundly defeated in subsequent elections. In the early 1970s, Netanyahu served under Barak in Israel's elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. As such, they seem to share a commando view of the world: utter secrecy among a tight circle and utilization of unorthodox methods to reach unswerving goals. Both are known for unusual self-confidence, often seen as arrogance, yet each seems to respect the other as a strategic thinker.

The coalition, of course, is not just a meeting of minds; it serves the political self-interest of both men. Barak needed to join the coalition out of political self-preservation because, in all likelihood, if he had stayed in the opposition he would have been toppled as head of the Labor Party. In the February elections, Barak led Israel's founding party to a new low by finishing in fourth place and saw Kadima take over leadership of Israel's self-proclaimed "peace camp." By adding Barak to a government vague on the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu undermines Labor's identity as an ideological alternative. At the same time, Netanyahu will point to Barak as a way of blunting opposition attacks by Livni that his government is not supportive enough of peace. By widening the base of his government, Netanyahu loosens his dependence on junior coalition members. If he adds the United Torah Judaism party as expected, his coalition will have 74 members, meaning that even Labor's departure would not deny him a parliamentary majority. Moreover, the opposition will be somewhat divided between those to Netanyahu's left and a pro-settler National Union faction to the right, a group that believes Netanyahu is not sufficiently committed to the settler enterprise.

Regional Issues

Although they come from different sides of the political aisle, Netanyahu and Barak seem to share common views on a number of key issues. In fact, the only consequential issue where they appear to differ is how to proceed in Gaza.

Iran. The combination of Netanyahu and Barak raises speculation that Israel might launch a military raid against Iranian nuclear facilities if U.S.-Iranian diplomacy fails. Opposition to Iran as a nuclear state is a consensus issue inside Israel, making it easier for the two should they pursue this strategy. Since Israel knows that it cannot stymie the impending U.S.-Iranian dialogue, it will seek to persuade Washington that the talks should be limited in time rather than open-ended, which would enable Tehran to "run out the clock" while it completes its nuclear program.

Syria. Both Netanyahu and Barak tried to reach breakthrough agreements with Damascus in the late 1990s, only to come up short. It is possible they will try again. Netanyahu used a back channel through an American businessman in 1998, but the deal was killed by Ariel Sharon, who was a leading figure in the Netanyahu government at the time. Barak tried U.S. mediation efforts, only to see the undertaking fall short in March 2000 because of a dispute over a few hundred yards of territory adjoining the Sea of Galilee. The two likely share the view of top members of the Israeli military brass that peace talks should be pursued to break up the regional axis comprising secular-led Syria and the Islamist-led Iran and Hizballah.

West Bank. Netanyahu and Barak believe that some final status issues between Israel and the PA cannot be resolved in the current environment, yet both think PA institution building should be pursued. The two, however, face the challenge that PA institution building will not be sustainable over time if the Palestinians and the international community perceive Israel as exploiting the situation to expand existing settlements in a manner that makes a Palestinian state unattainable. Israel denies any nefarious motive and believes its settlement activity is focused in areas that the Palestinians know will become part of Israel in any final agreement. While there is no sign that Netanyahu, Barak, and the United States want to pick a fight over settlements, the challenge for the new Netanyahu government will be to reach an understanding with Washington on the issue. Failure to do so will lead some to question the intentions of the new government. Barak, who has authority over the West Bank and feels he has a close relationship with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, could be a pivotal figure in avoiding bilateral tension.

Economic Policy. Most of the Netanyahu-Barak coalition agreement focused on economics rather than the Arab-Israel conflict. Netanyahu trimmed his free-market program in a move intended to silence the historically active, Labor-affiliated Histadrut trade union. Among other concessions, Netanyahu agreed to extend unemployment benefits, improve elderly subsidies, bolster worker retraining, and create a fund for distressed businesses to avert high unemployment.

Gaza. Differences between Netanyahu and Barak are likely to be most pronounced in their policies toward the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has publicly repeated his desire to topple Hamas, while Barak, along with Israel's military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, has been more skeptical, believing the PA is not ready to take over in Hamas's absence. It was Barak, in fact, who favored last June's ceasefire with Hamas, an agreement that lasted until December. It will be interesting to see if Netanyahu will return to Gaza's southern corridor to seal up the weapons-smuggling tunnels -- thereby risking renewed conflict -- or whether Barak will steer Israel toward a new, internationally sanctioned ceasefire.


Barak's addition to the Netanyahu government could play a key role in providing balance and stability. The two men have similar views on a variety of issues, and each holds the other in high esteem. Although their relationship could fracture over Gaza or the future of West Bank settlement activity, Barak's inclusion in the government could mitigate potential tension in the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

David Makovsky is a senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process.

© 2009 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

"Falling Flat"

So, the new government was sworn in today, and I find myself unable to work up much enthusiasm. Yes, it's a very good thing that Olmert will no longer be PM, and that Kadima -- with "two state solution" Livni at its helm -- will be in the opposition. But this new government was so long in the making that its establishment seems almost anti-climactic. Not to mention the fact that is carries within it seeds of dissension -- intra-party both within the Likud and Labor parties, and inter-party between Shas and Yisrael Beitenu, for example. This, even as Netanyahu boasts that the addition of Labor to the government ensures stability.

We've got some good people, experienced people, in the government -- such as Moshe Kachlon, Gideon Sa'ar, and Yisrael Katz -- but they are not necessarily in positions where they will do the most good.

I'm truly distressed that Labor is part of the government and National Union is not.


In the end, Moshe Ya'alon, who was slated to be Defense Minister before Barak was brought in, has been given the post of Strategic Affairs, as well as being named a Vice Prime Minister. And so he hasn't resigned before even starting. Presumably he will have a say in formulating policy with regard to trouble areas.

"Vice prime minister," as I under stand it, designates the person who would take over in times of absence or incapacitation of the prime minister, with "deputy prime minister" being more an honorary title.


The most disgruntled member of Likud is Silvan Shalom, who had hoped for -- expected -- the post of foreign minister, which was in the end given to Avigdor Lieberman as part of the coalition deal. There has been a flap about this already: Lieberman has been under investigation for several matters (sigh... again) and there was speculation that if he had to leave the government because he was indicted, Shalom would get the post. But Lieberman has let it be known that if he had to resign -- a possibility he considers unlikely -- and the post were to go to Likud rather than be kept within his party, Yisrael Beitenu would move to opposition and bring down the government.

When Shalom didn't get the Foreign Affairs ministry, he then sought Finance. (He has served in both positions in the past.) But that ultimately went to Yuval Steinitz, a Netanyahu loyalist. (It was said for a while that Netanyahu would retain that ministry himself, and he will surely keep involved in financial decisions and policy.)

Shalom was offered Regional Affairs Minister (do not ask me what this is -- it's invented) and a position as vice prime minister (with Netanyahu saying it's OK to have two people with this designation), and finally Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galil. It wasn't until just before the swearing-in that he agreed to this.

Shalom is not, shall we say, one of Netanyahu's closest associates.


The position of Minister of Health has not been filled as this ministry is being saved for UTJ, should it join the coalition. There is distress about the fact that UTJ representative Moshe Gafni would administer the ministry as a deputy minister only (by choice of UTJ), which people in the Ministry of Health feel would create a disadvantage when it comes to such matters as budget.


This government is the biggest ever. The splitting of posts, invention of new positions and formation of deputy positions was deemed necessary to satisfy everyone -- those who joined Netanyahu's coalition and those within his own party.

I hope to have a full and accurate list of all ministers and deputies in short order.


If this doesn't make your blood boil, likely little will.

Balad is an Israeli Arab political party with members elected to the Knesset. A new member, Haneen Zuabi (first ever woman elected from an Arab party), had a few things to say in a couple of English interviews reported upon by the Post:

She thinks Iran's development of nuclear weapons is a good thing. This would offset the military edge Israel has in the region, which is "dangerous to the world."

Asked if she was afraid of Iran's development of nuclear weapons, she replied, "No, I am not." She said was "more afraid from the Israeli nuclear [weapons]....It would be more supporting me to have a counter-power to Israel. I need something to balance [Israel's] power."

What is more, she thinks Iran's role in Palestinian affairs is more useful than the role of Egypt and Jordan. That's because these countries are afraid of a free Palestine (in truth, afraid of the terrorism within Palestine).

Iran stands more firmly "against occupation than a lot of the Arab countries. This is our interest."

Please note this very carefully. In "our" interest. She speaks as a Palestinian and not an Israeli, although she is not only an Israeli citizen but a member of the Israeli parliament -- provided with freedoms and receiving perks she would never receive in the PA. Her loyalty is with them and not us.


There has been a whole lot of indignation about Avigdor Lieberman's charges against the Arabs here and his call for a loyalty oath. But he is on to something very serious. And it's people's weariness with disloyalty among some Israeli Arabs that was a considerable factor in his gaining the mandates he did.

It's time we confronted this problem realistically.


An article in Time magazine this week, citing Israeli sources, provided additional information on the bombing of the convoy of trucks bearing weapons bound for Gaza -- with just one operation focused on here.

In addition to drones, dozens of planes were used -- primarily F-16s were utilized, with F-15s as back-up in case the squadron was attacked.

This was not the first time the Iranians had used a Sudan route to get weapons to Hamas, but this was the biggest shipment. The Mossad discovered that 120 tons of explosives and weapons were on the way, and had one week to plan the operation. Refueling was done over the Red Sea.

An IAF F-16i.

This was said to be a warning to Iran and a show of our intelligence capabilities.


According to journalist Seymour Hersh, writing in the New Yorker, presidential elect Barack Obama put pressure on Olmert to stop our military action in Gaza before his inauguration.

This is simply confirmation of something that's been widely bandied about, but it's irksome none-the-less. An official (or official to be) of another country has no business interfering in our defensive action. And Olmert was foolish in the extreme to accede and terminate the operation prematurely to suit him.


A two-day Arab summit convened in Doha, Qatar, yesterday to address a number of issues, but President Mubarak of Egypt opted not to attend, sending Mufid Shehab, Minister of Legal Affairs, instead.

Of major concern to the leaders was the March 4, arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes because of his actions in Darfur.

Bashir was at the conference and received a warm welcome; the Arab League has indicated it will not honor the arrest warrant.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MK: Too Many Jews in Galilee

Maayana Miskin

Israeli MK Taleb A-Sana of the United Arab List (Ra'am Ta'al) accused the government Monday of “Judaizing the Galilee and the Negev” by encouraging Jews to move to those areas. A-Sana called on the government to encourage Arab life in those areas and to “adopt a policy of developing the Galilee and Negev for all residents.” A-Sana was one of several Israeli Arab MKs to attend “Land Day” events on Monday. The yearly day of marches and protests is held in memory of events in 1976, when six Arabs were killed during riots over government confiscation of land.

Protests took place in the Negev, the Galilee, Judea and Samaria and elsewhere in the Arab world. Protests are scheduled to take place in the United States, Canada and multiple European Union countries as well.

Thousands attended the central protest in Israel, in the northern village of Deir Hanna. Many carried Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) flags.

The slogan of the 2009 Land Day was, “We are all united under Israel racism and fascism.”

MK Afou Agbaria of Hadash said he was protesting continuing confiscation of land, while MKs Mohammed Barakeh and Masoud Ghanem focused their concern on the election of Zionist and religious parties in the most recent elections.

MK Jamal Zahalka, the chairman of Balad, said his party would file a bill asking to recognize Land Day as an official national holiday for Israeli Arabs. In addition, the party plans to demand that the government return land claimed by the Arab community.

Fatah spokesman Fahmi A-Zarir congratulated Israeli Arabs on Land Day. The day commemorates “Palestinians who sacrificed themselves in defense of their nation and their homeland,” he said.

A-Zarir promised that Fatah would “defend the land and oppose the Israelis” until a new Arab state is created west of the Jordan River.

Is Jenin a Hotbed of “Moderates”?

Phyllis Chesler
Pajamas Media | 3/31/2009

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They had not engaged in any rock or bomb throwing nor had they marched with ominously covered faces chanting “Death to the Jews, Death to America.” Instead, some time last week, thirteen young Palestinians, ages 11-18, members of the “Strings of Freedom” orchestra, conducted by Wafa Younis, played music for elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors in Holon. They came armed, not with guns, but with musical instruments. By yesterday, Palestinian authorities on the allegedly “moderate” West Bank, in the Jenin Refugee camp, had disbanded the orchestra and accused Wafa Younis of inappropriately involving the children in a dangerous “political issue.”

Younis is an Israeli Arab. This means that she is also a “Palestinian,” but, like 1. 2 million other such “Palestinians,” she is an Israeli citizen who is not voluntarily leaving Israel for either the West Bank or Gaza. For her “crime,” Younis was barred from the refugee camp. The apartment where she conducted her little orchestra is now boarded up.

Younis had not held the children hostage at gunpoint nor had she used them as human shields in the midst of a battle. She had not taught them that Israelis are “Nazis,” who are wantonly massacring the Palestinians. However, by allowing them to play for elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors she taught the musicians that the Holocaust did happen to Jews and that Jews, even Israeli Jews, are human beings, worthy of listening to music. Worse: Younis had allowed her charges to participate in a “Good Deeds Day,” an event which involved Jews and which had been funded by Israelis.

To continue reading this article, click here.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She is about to publish a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is

Steinitz new finance minister

Following nightly meeting at Knesset PM-designate informs Steinitz he will be appointing him finance minister in his new government; Officials in Netanyahu's office stress Bibi will be in charge of strategic economic policy

Attila Somfalvi
Israel News

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu met with MK Yuval Steinitz at the Knesset Monday night and appointed him finance minister in his new government. However, officials at Netanyahu's office stressed that Steinitz would be working under the PM-designate's direct supervision, and that Netanyahu will be in charge of Israel's economic strategy and the person heading its socioeconomic cabinet.

"I consider this appointment a huge vote of confidence," Steinitz said upon leaving the meeting. "One of the greatest tasks we're faced with is to deal with the financial crisis and this we will do."

Steinitz' appointment narrows down ever further Silvan Shalom's prospects of becoming a senior minister in Netanyahu's government. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Shalom on Tuesday in a bid to try and resolve the differences between the two.

Netanyahu's office has issued a statement late Monday night saying that both Steinitz and Shalom are expected to receive senior ministerial appointments.

The PM-designate held a series of meetings with the Likud members throughout Monday evening and night. The attempt to satisfy the demands of his party's senior members yielded a government of 30 ministers – the largest in the history of Israel.

Ministers' procession
Earlier Monday Netanyahu informed his party's Knesset members of their designated positions in his new government.

The first to meet with Netanyahu was MK Michael Eitan, who will serve as a minister-without-portfolio in charge of improving the governmental service to the citizens.

MK Moshe Kahlon will be appointed communications minister, MK Yossi Peled will be a minister-without-portfolio, and MK Gila Gamliel will serve as deputy minister for women and youth affairs. MK Yuli Edelstein will receive an operational role, Netanyahu said, although his areas of responsibility have yet to be determined.

MK Gilad Erdan, who was next in line, was informed of his appointment environment minister. Erdan said in response, "I'm very excited. We'll lead a green revolution." He will also be a member of the Judges' Election Committee and serve as the liaison minister between the government and the Knesset.

MK Limor Livnat will serve as science, culture and sport minister, and will also serve in the National Security Cabinet.

Likud MK Reuven Rivlin was appointed Knesset speaker. Rivlin received a majority vote of 90 MKs, with no objections.

Speaking at the Knesset after his appointment, Rivlin said, "The Knesset is not just a stage for ceremonies, but a panel for debating and decision making. We were not elected to act as stand -ins, but to take an active part, a central part in democracy."

Later Monday evening, MK Gideon Sa'ar was named education minister, and will also sit in the National Security Cabinet. "Most of the meeting focused on the education system, the problems, and the need for a change in the system," Sa'ar said upon exiting Netanyahu's office.

Netanyahu also informed MK Yisrael Katz of his decision to appoint him to the position of transportation minister.

Former IDF chief Moshe Yaalon will be appointed minister of strategic affairs and will also serve as vice premier.

MK Dan Meridor will be appointed to the post of minister in charge of secret services and deputy prime minister, and will also be a member of the National Security Cabinet and the Kitchen Cabinet. Benny Begin was named as minister without portfolio and as a member of the National Security Cabinet and the Kitchen Cabinet.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama, Israel Differ Sharply on Iran


President Barack Obama’s recent overture to Iran constitutes a “sharp departure” from Israel’s position, the Jewish publication Forward observes.

On March 20, Obama issued a video greeting to the Iranian people and leadership stressing America’s commitment to resolve its differences with Iran through diplomacy. “This process will not be advanced by threats,” he said. “We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”

The overture “appeared to all but dismiss the possibility of military action,” and is contrary to the Israeli view that the threat of force should remain on the table when dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, according to Forward.

“This is a sharp departure from the Israeli position,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council.

“The president’s approach is that diplomacy cannot work if there is a constant military threat.”

The publication cites Israeli sources and media reports who say that Jerusalem insists any American diplomatic engagement with Iran be limited in time and coupled with tougher sanctions, lest Iran use a prolonged series of negotiations to further advance its nuclear program.

Israel delivered that message to the Obama administration during recent discussions, including a March 16 meeting in Washington between Israel Defense Forces chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Dennis Ross, the State Department special adviser expected to coordinate diplomatic efforts.

In any case, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for the most part dismissed Obama’s overture. Addressing a mass gathering, he responded to Obama: “Have you stopped your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? What has changed?”

He did add, however, “We shall see and judge. You change, and we shall change as well.”

His speech was punctuated by the crowd’s usual chants of “Death to America.”

Guest Comment: What is it about Iran's response to Obama that the American president does not yet understand? Is not 'Death to America!' amply clear? Will he be willing to sacrifice support for Israel for temporary appease-ment ? Israel has much more experience dealing with terrorists; appeasement is a sign of weakness in the Middle East and leads to continued dangerous innovations. The US ought to beware for itself as well as consistently loyal friends.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Those Who Will Not See"

Arlene Kushner

For the second time now, the EU has delivered a message that its relationship with Israel will suffer if we do not maintain a "two state solution" stance.

Not long ago, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solan said that the EU might re-evaluate its relationship with Israel if the new government isn't committed to a "two-state solution." On Friday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said if the new Israeli government does not commit itself to establishing a Palestinian state, "relations would become very difficult indeed."

"At one of our next ministerial meetings we would have to discuss what consequences the EU would draw from that."

And the Czechs were said to be our friends. Threatening friends is not nice.


Said Schwarzenberg, "Both parties must stick to their commitments from the past: A two-state solution and all agreements reached over the past few years."

So in theory he's holding both sides to former commitments. But in reality he chooses to overlook that fact that there is no one with whom Israel might negotiate a "two-state solution." There is still not one address for the Palestinians and should there be a unity government it would adhere to Hamas policy, which says no end to terrorism, no commitment to former agreements of the PLO, no recognition of Israel.

In fact, things are so bad that Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan has admitted that even FATAH never recognized Israel's right to exist, only the PLO did. Fatah was just along for the ride, while maintaining its own obstructionist policy.

So, given this, why -- why!! -- should the EU, if it is balanced in its approach, expect us to continue to support that non-starter, a "two state solution?

The answer is that the EU, whatever lip service it gives to being balanced, in fact is not. The EU is on the cusp of recognizing Hamas if it just "respects" former agreements. And it is promoting that unity government, without giving due attention to what it will stand for.

Its eyes are closed, willfully.


Which leads us to yet one more examination of where Netanyahu stands on this.

It is making news here that "sources" report that in coalition negotiations he refused a request to say there would be no "two-state solution."

I knew then that this would have prevented the entry of Labor into the coalition, which is something Netanyahu sought. Furthermore, it would have labeled us, within the international community, as right wing obstructionist. The stand of the EU is an early sign of this.

The question remains one not of what he would or would not put into a coalition agreement -- but of what he will and will not sign off on in real time.

He countenances something short of a genuine sovereign state for the Palestinians. And I find, looking back, that he's been quite consistent on this. He says we shouldn't rule them, but they should not have the power to bring us harm. To that end he envisions a Palestinian entity that is internally autonomous -- electing mayors, having a police force, managing their own schools, etc. The restrictions he would put on this entity are several: no army, no control of their air or electromagnetic space, no right to make treaties, etc. In addition, we keep all of Jerusalem, united, and maintain strategic areas in Judea and Samaria. And there is that small matter of incitement of PA children to jihad via their textbooks.

If he holds to this, there will be no deal at all, as this is less than the Palestinians will accept.


Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has gone on the offensive with regard to this, in a Washington Post op-ed. The PA is for peace, you see, and Israel is not. Unfortunately some Washington Post readers will buy this. The only thing that is acceptable is a fully sovereign Palestinian state based on (please note!) '67 lines. Otherwise there will be no peace deal and it will be Israel's fault.

There is, of course, no mention of the PA meeting its obligations.


We are being told that our new government will be sworn in on Tuesday, but, as I write, Netanyahu still hasn't decided which of the few available ministry posts which of the big names in Likud will be offered. Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

Moshe Ya'alon has now said that he joined Likud and agreed to run in the elections because Netanyahu told him he needed him. But as that may not be the case, he may resign. He has been publicly very gracious but must be steaming (with reason) at almost being named Defense Minister and then seeing it go to Barak.

Negotiations with UTJ have apparently broken down because the party refused the Health Ministry it was offered. No mention of the National Union, which has toughened its stance again after the dismantlement of the Meoz Esther outpost next to Kochav HaShachar last week.


I reported very recently about an attack we apparently made (there is no official confirmation) on a convoy of Iranian weapons traveling across Sudan to Egypt and destined for Gaza. A great deal more information has surfaced since then:

ABC, citing an unnamed US official, on Friday night released a report that Israel carried out three different aerial attacks to stop the transfer of weapons to Gaza: two hit convoys in the desert in Sudan -- on January 27th and February 11th, and subsequently one hit a ship at sea.

If this information is reliable, it is most reassuring both with regard to our intelligence and our readiness to act.

Today's Sunday Times (London), citing Israeli security officials, reports that our air force used drones -- UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) -- to carry out the attacks. It says that Hermes 450 drones, accompanied by huge Eitan UAVs, were used. The advantage of a drone over a plane for a mission like this, which involves hitting a moving target, is that a drone can hover for up to 24 hours at great heights where it cannot be seen, until its target is in place; it is controlled by satellite.

According to the Times, this smuggling operation had been masterminded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who paid local smugglers well to do the job. The convoys were carrying Fajr-3 rockets, which -- with a range of 40 miles -- have the capacity to reach Tel Aviv. They had been manufactured in pieces and were to be assembled by Hamas experts in Gaza who had been trained in Iran and Syria.


Americans: You might want to point out to President Obama what Iran's role was here, and remind him that soft-pedaling it with Iran will give this terrorist-promoting nation more latitude to do damage. Demand that Israel be supported in her right to defend herself.

Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111

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A number of defense issues are making news:

-- The Iron Dome -- a short-range missile defense system -- tested well last week, intercepting mock Katyushas and Kassams. It is slated for deployment in the north , against Hezbollah missiles, and in south, against Hamas missiles. The system is slated to be operational in 2010, and there is now thought being given within the Air Force to establishing a Battalion to operate this defense system by the end of 2009.

-- Israel has had her eye on American F-22 fighters, the ultimate in stealth fighter jets, for a long time. However, Congress has forbidden foreign sales of these jets -- which operate successfully in enemy air space because of a combination of factors, including shape, color, and the composite materials it's composed of.

Now there is some speculation that Congress may change the rules because foreign sales would be needed to keep the project afloat.

-- Israel is concerned about the delivery from Russia to Syria of advanced MIG 31E fighter jets -- something that the Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency reports is coming soon. When news of a possible sale of these jets to Syria surfaced in 2007, Moscow denied it.

Until now Syria's air force has been obsolete. Prospective delivery of these fighter planes, which can fly at almost three times the speed of sound while simultaneously shooting at several targets, is worrisome.


Again, rumors fly with regard to negotiations on Shalit. The Olmert government presumably has two days left, and it is considered exceedingly unlikely that anything can happen in this very narrow window of time. But key Israeli negotiator Ofer Dekel left the country yesterday to parts unknown; this has prompted speculation that he has gone to Cairo for last minute talks.

Our government is denying this, saying that Hamas has not submitted new names to replace the names of prisoners we will not release, and so negotiations are deadlocked.


Our Cabinet, just today, approved a proposal by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to impose sanctions on Hamas members in our prisons.

Friedman said:

"Just because we're the only democracy in the Middle East, doesn't mean we have to be the only suckers. We must not radiate weakness."

Bless him for this.

From now on prisoners' benefits would be cut to the "legal minimum" -- according to both international and local law.

Family visitation would be reduced to the legal minimum, and the Red Cross would still be permitted to visit prisoners.

But there would be no more television and radio rights, and no more opportunity to study [towards a degree]. This last has always made me crazy: men who have Jewish blood on their hands able to work towards a degree in our prisons? Suckers, indeed. Bleeding hearts.

I see no indication of the rule regarding prisoner use of cell phones, which enables them to be in touch with their comrades on the outside.

Said MK Meir Sheetrit on this: "It's not reasonable that Shalit is living [in the Gaza Strip] without seeing his parents and Hamas prisoners live here almost like they're in kindergarten."

So what took so long? This now must be passed into law.


A look at our "partner for peace":

Last Wednesday, the 13 members, aged 11 through 18, of the "Strings for Freedom" orchestra located in the Jenin refugee camp played a concert for elderly Holocaust survivors in the Israeli town of Holon.

Palestinian children from the...


Lovely, yes?

Depends on whom you ask.

The PA has now dismantled the orchestra, boarded up the apartment where the orchestra practiced, and banned the conductor, Wafa Younis, from the camp.

Younis, 50, of the Arab village Ara inside of Israel, apparently made the arrangements with help from another Israeli Arab woman. This was done for "Good Deeds Day," sponsored annually by an Israeli organization. She told the survivors gathered that the children would sing a song for peace before playing their instruments.

Leaders in the camp joined in condemning the orchestra's participation; they said they saw this as an exploitation of children for "political purposes."

Adnan al-Hinda, director of the Popular Committee for Services in the camp, said that "suspicious elements" were behind this event -- people seeking to "impact the national culture of the young generation and cast doubt about the heroism and resistance of the residents of the camp during the Israeli invasion in April 2002." This was a "dangerous matter" because it was directed against the cultural and national identity of the Palestinians.

Ramzi Fayad, a spokesman for various political factions in the Jenin camp, said all of the groups he represented were strongly opposed to any form of normalization with Israel.


The Jenin camp was a hotbed of terrorism a few years ago, and thus was a major target of IDF operations in Defensive Shield in 2002. That is what is being referred to above. The orchestra was established to raise morale.

But this entire scenario raises several thoughts and questions for me.

It strikes me with particular potency that these Palestinians are identifying resistance against soldiers who were seeking to weed out terrorists as a part of their culture that requires protection. This tells us a great deal.

I asked myself why being kind to elderly Holocaust survivors, and singing a song of peace to them, was perceived as diminishing Palestinian "bravery" in a completely different context. And I moved toward a conclusion that it was the promotion of peace by children of the camp that was disturbing, as it was perceived as undermining that "resistance" mentality, which they are not yet prepared to release. Also teaches us a lot.

And then there is the whole issue of the Holocaust, and an acknowledgement that it happened and that Jews suffered. The youngsters in the orchestra in the main had never heard of the Holocaust. In the eyes of the Palestinian leaders involved, it would seem that an acknowledgement of Jewish suffering diminishes or undercuts their self-image as a suffering people enduring victimhood -- definitely a key part of their culture as well.

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