Saturday, April 25, 2009

In praise of new policy

Despite criticism, Lieberman says precisely what his voters want him to say

Hanoch Daum
Israel Opinion

You must have noticed that media outlets in Israel have already decided that Avigdor Lieberman is a disaster for the State of Israel. This is a decisive verdict, whereby Lieberman will be causing us irreversible damage across the globe. The moment this verdict has been handed down, every development becomes commensurate with it. Every statement made by the foreign minister prompts huge headlines: “Lieberman is firing in all directions again,” “Lieberman is embarrassing Israel again,” or “The Americans are in shock.”

The fact that there is a huge constituency that voted for Lieberman precisely so that he will proceed to express his views, and the fact that the policy adopted by the previous government brought us nothing with the exception of two failed wars, is of no interest to the media. They decided that Lieberman is a disaster, and they start every day with a new declaration that appears to reinforce the prophecy: This disaster is indeed here.

So let’s get things straight here: Israel, for the first time in a very long time, is standing up for what it believes in. Israel, for the first time in a very long time, is also talking about the things that are important to it, and not only about the things that the world finds important.

The Netanyahu government has been in place for less than a month now, and we can already feel that the declarations against Iran have been stepped up a notch.

What did Livni achieve?
So indeed, the Israeli government did not rush to announce that it will be giving the Palestinians everything they want. And indeed, officials in the Obama administration may not like it too much – so what? Where exactly did former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s policy, which was flattering and obsequious, bring us? Did we fail to notice that some kind of peace broke out around here?

The Israeli media fans the flames of the self-righteous and concerned agenda, which is obsessively preoccupied with the question of what others think about us. However, the Israeli media fails to note that the Israeli public elected a new government and now expects this new government to present a new policy.

Or in other words: Why do we need to hold elections around here if every government that is ever formed will have to present the same political doctrine?
Thank you YNET News

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Other Intelligence Failure

Ryan Mauro | 4/24/2009
The inability to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction will go down as one of the greatest intelligence failures in American history. However, critical information provided by Iraqis and foreign governments was not acted upon or placed into the right hands. This additional failure is a reminder that the Intelligence Community is still broken. A series of high-level meetings were held on February 10-12, 2004, involving officials from the U.S., U.K., and Ukraine. Attendees of these meetings included Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John A. Shaw, director of MI6 Richard Dearlove, the head of the Ukrainian SBU intelligence service Ihor Smeshko, among others. As discussed in Shadow Warriors by Kenneth Timmerman, Smeshko and the other Ukrainians informed the U.S. and British governments that Iraq’s WMD had been sent outside of the country with Russian assistance. The information included the dates and locations of meetings to plan the operation, and even names of the Russian Spetsnaz officers involved. Shaw also worked with a British solider of fortune who ran an intelligence network in the region, and had tracked the movement of WMDs to Syria and Lebanon.

The information provided by this network substantiated the information provided by the Ukrainians. Ion Pacepa, the former head of Romanian intelligence during the Cold War, has also provided information supporting these allegations, saying he had personal knowledge of a Soviet plan called “Operation Sarindar” where the Russians would cleanse an ally, such as Iraq, of traces of illicit activity if threatened with Western attack. The plan’s purpose was to deny the West of any evidence incriminating the Russian ally, as well as to wipe Russia’s own fingerprints off of the state’s illegal activity. The presence of Russian advisors in Iraq shortly before the invasion, some of whom received medals from Saddam Hussein, indicates this plan was activated.

It should also be mentioned that Dave Gaubatz, a special agent with the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, was the first civilian federal agent deployed to Iraq and he said that he saw intelligence that “suggested that some WMD had been moved to Syria with the help of Russian intelligence.” Iraqis also told him that there was a Russian presence in the country before the war.

According to Timmerman, Smeshko expressed his frustration that the CIA station chief in Kiev was not cooperative when he tried to pass along the intelligence. Shaw described similar resistance from members of the Intelligence Community who tried to discredit his sources. This sort of opposition may indicate that the information did not survive the inter-agency battles long enough to reach the highest policy-makers.

On February 24, I went to see a talk at the Free Library of Philadelphia by Charles Duelfer, the leader of the Iraq Survey Group, who was promoting his new book, Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq. The ISG had been assembled in 2003 to search for weapons of mass destruction, ultimately concluding that no stockpiles of such arms existed at the time of the invasion. Duelfer stated emphatically that he was “convinced” that no Iraqi WMD had made its way to Syria, although he admitted there were some “loose ends” remaining on the issue.

During the question-and-answer session, I asked Duelfer if he had seen any information passed to the United States by the Ukrainian government about Iraq’s WMDs going to Syria and Russian involvement in the transfer. He responded by saying that he had seen no such information. In a follow-up email interview, he said “This does not mean…that it was not passed on to ISG [Iraq Survey Group].” The fact that the head of the WMD search was not given specific intelligence provided by a foreign government is a stunning intelligence failure itself, casting doubt upon the efficiency of the Intelligence Community.

Duelfer has confirmed that the Russians had a presence in Iraq and had fingerprints to hide. He says that the Russians were assisting Saddam Hussein’s illegal ballistic missile program, which Duelfer notes was a violation of the United Nations, and had a strong relationship with his regime.

“Russians were present in Iraq for many activities….Russian officials regularly met with Iraqi officials…Russian KGB officers were in regular contact with the regime at very senior levels…Russian businessmen were all over Baghdad tryng to secure a variety of deals. And of course Russians, including very senior Russians, were in receipt of lucrative oil allocations under the UN Oil-for-Food Program,” Duelfer said in my interview with him. He also noted that, to the best of his knowledge, Russia did not investigate any of the officials involved in the scandal.

At the Philadelphia event, Duelfer also told me that he did not believe Iraq sent WMD to Syria. He cited the testimony of Naji Sabri, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, in particular.

“I knew him very well, and I had been authorized to make his life a lot better, or a lot worse,” he told me, adding that as foreign minister, he’d handle any such dealings with Syria. However, in his book, Duelfer says that Sabri had nothing to do with any WMD programs at any time. “His statements on WMD from an intelligence perspective would have been irrelevant,” Duelfer writes.

Additional information was also not evaluated. General Georges Sada, the former second-in-command of the Iraqi Air Force. In his 2006 book, Saddam's Secrets, Sada writes that he knows two Iraqi pilots who flew WMDs into Syria over the summer of 2002. Sada also said there was a ground shipment that followed later on. Nizar Najoef, a Syrian journalist who defected to France, told De Telegraaf on January 5, 2004 that his sources inside Syria identified the three locations where Iraq’s WMD had been shipped to.

“I did not interview the pilots nor did I speak with the Syrian journalist you mentioned,” Duelfer said. “We were inundated with WMD reports and could not investigate them all...To narrow the problem, we investigated those people and places we knew would have either been involved or aware of regime WMD activities.”

The fact that no such individuals disclosed such a transfer is part of the reason Duelfer doubts that anything was transferred out of the country. “Someone among the people we interviewed would have described this,” he said. However, Don Bordenkircher, who served as the nation director of jail and prison operations in Iraq for two years, told me that he spoke to about 40 Iraqis, either military personnel or civilians assigned to the military, who discussed the movement of WMDs to Syria and Lebanon, some of whom claimed to having actually been involved.

Until the information provided by people like Smeshko and Sada is followed-up on and evaluated, the truth about Iraq’s WMD can not be certain. Even Duelfer leaves a little window of possibility open that such a transfer occurred, with his final report saying that the investigation into the possibility could not be completed due to the security situation. He also discusses reports of Iraqi truck drivers working for a company connected to Uday Hussein transporting “sensitive” cargo into Syria shortly before the war began in his book, which he described to me as the “loose ends” that remain.

Duelfer can not be faulted for the Intelligence Community’s failure to provide him with the information given by the Ukrainians, and it does not detract from his book, which should serve as a textbook for intelligence analysts in training. The implications of this failure, however, are greater than the question of whether Iraq possessed WMD materials, as it still remains quite possible that the information provided about a movement to Syria is false. The fact that such data, of the most sensitive nature, would not be passed to the appropriate authorities strongly indicates that the Intelligence Community is still severely flawed, leaving open a frightening vulnerability for the United States.
Ryan Mauro is the founder of and the Assistant-Director of Intelligence at C2I. He’s also the National Security Researcher for the Christian Action Network and a published author. He can be contacted at

Giving Back Cold War Gains

Jonah Goldberg
Friday, April 24, 2009

In 1993, Bill Clinton joked, "Gosh, I miss the Cold War." And, he explained, somberly: "We had an intellectually coherent thing. The American people knew what the rules were." Such Cold War nostalgia vexed many conservatives. It seemed to us that the Cold War consensus had broken down with the Vietnam War. Clinton himself didn't much like that Cold War endeavor, which is one reason he worked so assiduously to avoid serving in it. A young John Kerry did serve, but he also threw away his medals and denounced his fellow servicemen as war criminals. Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, had proclaimed that he had no "inordinate fear of Communism," suggesting that those who disagreed with him did.

The "intellectual coherence" of the Cold War didn't stop many liberals from opposing Ronald Reagan's foreign-policy efforts in Europe, the Caribbean and Central America, nor did it temper Hollywood's ardor in portraying Reagan as a warmonger, a dunce or both. In the 1980s, the SANE/Freeze movement fired the minds of much of the Democratic Party. And when the Cold War ended without a shot fired, the left worked hard to give all the credit to Mikhail Gorbachev, since he seemed like a more reasonable fellow.

All of that comes to mind as I watch Barack Obama stroll across the globe apologizing for, or condemning, the sins of his predecessors and, by extension, his country.

After former Soviet pawn and now Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega berated the United States at a recent summit, President Obama joked, in reference to the failed Bay of Pigs operation, "I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was 3 months old."

Ah, yes, because the pressing issue is Obama's blamelessness, not the apparently embarrassing faux pas of America's effort to rid Cuba of a brutal Communist dictator and lackey of the Soviets, 90 miles off our coast.

In Prague, Obama declared that "the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War" is the large stockpile of nuclear weapons left behind after the war, sounding as if he might have been one of those teenagers who translated SANE/Freeze brochures into high school term papers.

The truth is that the Cold War's most dangerous legacy remains the bundle of radioactive lies that poisoned so many lands and deformed so many minds. The Soviets fueled national-socialist movements around the globe, telling the poor that if they embraced violent revolution and systematically purged capitalism, tradition and religion from their societies, they would hasten their ascent to the sunny uplands of history. The reverse was true: Whole generations were either slaughtered or left to live as dehumanized industrial cogs, or to labor as serfs tending crops amidst the bleached bones of their fellow countrymen.

The Soviets spread lies about the nature of democracy and destroyed indigenous democratic movements, lest they leech off the revolutionary ardor of groups both more murderous and more loyal to the Kremlin. In the West, they employed useful idiots in academia and the press to foment self-hatred and eat away at civilizational self-confidence with cancerously idiotic arguments about the "moral equivalence" between West and East. They funded antiwar movements, peace congresses and supposedly crusading "independent" journalists. For example, they spread the lie around the globe that America invented AIDS to kill blacks.

That lie made it all the way to Barack Obama's church, where Obama's former mentor and pastor, Jeremiah Wright, would repeat it with blindingly ignorant passion, saying that America invented "the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color."

Obama talks a lot about wanting to move beyond the "stale arguments" of the Cold War. In one sense that's fine, since that twilight struggle is over. But in another sense, as we watch him apologize for America's history, it is hard to shake the feeling that he only saw one side's arguments as "stale."

That wouldn't matter if the past were a page one could merely turn, as Obama frequently claims. But the Cold War's lessons aren't so irrelevant to the times we live in. The past is never completely irrelevant.

One small example: The Wall Street Journal's Dan Henninger asked a former Eastern European dissident imprisoned by Communists: "If you were sitting in a cell in Cuba, Iran or Syria and saw this photo of a smiling American president shaking hands with a smiling Hugo Chavez, what would you think?"

The former dissident responded: "I would think that I was losing ground."

When I see the president telling so many of America's enemies and critics what they want to hear, I feel like we're all losing ground -- ground that was worth winning.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

"Reasons for Gratitude"

Arlene Kushner

Before Shabbat I would like to focus on sources of hope.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has given an interview to The Jerusalem Post -- his first such interview since taking office. f the international community wants to help bring stability to the area, he said, they should "stop speaking in slogans." His counterparts tend to speak as if they are in a campaign, using words like "occupation," "settlements," and "settlers." The slogans they rely upon -- such as "land for peace" and "two-state solution" are overly simplistic and ignore the root of the ongoing conflict.

"It's impossible to artificially impose any political solution. It will fail, for sure. You cannot start a peace process from nothing." The issues to deal with are "economy, security, stability."

Lieberman was emphatic in stating that there could be no negotiations that entertained the possibility of "right of return." "It cannot be on the table, I'm not willing to discuss the 'right of return' of even one refugee."

At the same time, he indicated that "somebody who really wants a solution, someone who desires a real peace and a real agreement, must realize that this would be impossible without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state...

"[The real reason for the deadlock with the Palestinians] is not occupation, not settlements and not settlers. This conflict is really a very deep conflict..."

What is more, it would be "impossible to resolve any problems in our region without resolving the Iranian problem [which is related to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria, and Hamas in Gaza]. He believes the prime responsibility for Iran rests with the international community.


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to EU threats to suspend an upgrade in its relationship with Israel.

"Don't set conditions for us," Netanyahu told Czech Premier Mirek Topolanek during his visit here.

When Topolanek brought up the issue of settlements, Netanyahu responded, "If Israelis can't build homes in the West Bank then Palestinians shouldn't be allowed to either. I have no plans to build new settlements, but if someone wants to build a new home [in an existing one], I don't think there's a problem." The West Bank, he said, was "disputed territory" over which negotiations must be held. This cedes nothing.


Understand that a very short time ago we had a foreign minister and a prime minister who couldn't wait to give away parts of Israel, divide Jerusalem and push our people back to the '67 lines, all in the name of what we "had to do" for peace.

So, Baruch Hashem for what we have now: Leaders who won't be threatened and stand for Israeli rights. May their strength increase.

There will be more to say on this.


I'll look at Hillary's latest statement (a stupid threat) after Shabbat.

see my website

Can the al-Asad Regime Make Peace with Israel?

J. Scott Carpenter
April 21, 2009

U.S. and European observers believe that Israel's new government will seek peace with Damascus in an attempt to pry the Syrian regime away from Tehran. Pursuing the Syrian track would also give the Obama administration an outlet for its peacemaking energies, given the ongoing dysfunction of Palestinian politics. Syrian president Bashar al-Asad, however, poured cold water on such prospects at the Arab League Summit in Doha, calling efforts toward peace with Israel "useless." Rhetoric notwithstanding, advocates of the Syrian track hope an isolated and economically desperate Damascus will grasp the olive branch, ushering in a strategic regional realignment and a period of relative stability. Although these are laudable objectives, such a peace with Syria remains highly unlikely for a fundamental reason: without Israel as an enemy, Syria's minority regime loses its sole rationale for retaining power.


Syrian politics began its current trajectory in 1948, when Damascus, along with its Arab allies, sought to smother the newborn Israeli state in its cradle. The Syrian army's defeat led ultimately to a successful Baathist coup on March 8, 1963, and, following another stinging military loss in 1967, the consolidation of Hafiz al-Asad's power in November 1970.

From the beginning, al-Asad's struggle for power relied heavily on loyal Alawite officers scattered throughout the military and security apparatus. Even today, Alawites, who comprise only 12 percent of the population, remain the backbone of the Baathist regime. Within this minority, the al-Asad clan has benefited disproportionately, especially since the death of Hafiz. Today, a small clique around President Bashar al-Asad controls nearly all levers of political power and has outsized influence over the economy.

To maintain this minority dominance, the Baathist regime imposed a state of emergency forty-six years ago, providing the state a vast array of tools to monitor all social communication and to restrict individual freedoms of expression and association. Since its proclamation, the State of Emergency Law of 1962 has been used as the prime justification for authoritarian practices and, as a consequence, the perpetuation of the al-Asad regime. Examples abound.


In 1982, militant members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama challenged the legitimacy of the regime and were brutally crushed. According to Amnesty International, three weeks of shelling killed between 10,000 and 25,000 people. The emergency law provided the legal fig leaf for the government's actions, which included torture, mass executions, the reported use of poison gas, and other horrendous human rights abuses. As Hafiz indicated in a radio address on March 7, 1982, "Death a thousand times to the hired Muslim Brothers, who linked themselves with the enemies of the homeland and who were employed by the imperialist, Zionist, and reactionary enemies." After the Hama massacre, anyone who dared oppose the regime was labeled a traitor to or enemy of the state -- one that remained at war with Israel.

Damascus Spring

Shortly after the death of his father, Bashar became president in June 2000. With weaker ties to the Alawite heartland, a British education, and a Sunni wife, Bashar professed a desire to liberalize Syrian society, and for a short time, pluralism was tolerated and intellectuals and reformers dared to hope for change. This so-called Damascus Spring proved short-lived, however, coming to an end in 2001 when the Alawite-dominated security clique realized that the inexperienced president's policy of openness could imperil the regime's continued existence and their own dominance within it.

The first sign of reversal came with the arrest of dissidents and forcible closure of intellectual salons and forums. Most recently, the Atassi Forum was prohibited after a member read a statement from Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanuni, the leader of the UK Muslim Brotherhood, crossing one of the government's clear redlines. Again, the emergency law provided public justification for the crackdown.

Damascus Declaration

In the fall of 2005, a group of political parties and intellectuals came together to issue the Damascus Declaration. Among its demands were the suspension of the emergency law and the "adoption of democracy as a modern system." This was perceived as a threat, however meager, to Bashar's regime, which responded predictably. It moved quickly to criminalize the Damascus Declaration movement and sentenced many of its signatories, including its leader Riad Saif, to harsh prison sentences on charges of "weakening national sentiment" and "spreading false or exaggerated news that would affect the morale of the country."

Current Trends

Such legal tactics have justified routine human rights abuses. Today, freedom within Syria has been sharply curtailed even as Bashar's base of support has shrunk. Freedom House lists Syria as "not free" and indicates a decline in standing from 2007 "because of a renewed crackdown on members of the democratic opposition." The large Kurdish minority are barely treated as citizens and the majority Sunnis are barred from many high-level positions. Anyone who speaks out is quickly detained or imprisoned.

In defending its human rights record in 2006 before the UN Human Rights Council, the Syrian government rationalized its retention of the emergency law by pointing to "an imminent threat to the country's integrity," adding:

"...This state of affairs, namely, a real threat of war, Israel's continued occupation of part of the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, and the real threat of expansion of the occupation, all in violation of United Nations resolutions, created an exceptional situation requiring the rapid and extraordinary mobilization of Syrian forces and efforts to enable the Administration to act quickly to deal with these imminent threats in accordance with the Constitution and laws in force in the Syrian Arab Republic. It was therefore necessary to promulgate the Act and maintain it in force."

It follows that ending the "threat of war" by making peace with Israel would eliminate the need to maintain the law in force, something the regime will clearly be loath to do. Some may argue that Egypt has managed to retain its emergency law after securing a cold peace with Israel, but the legitimacy of the respective regimes cannot be compared. The Mubarak regime, whatever its source of legitimacy, is not based on the narrow support of a sectarian minority within his country. Nor does Egypt rely on surrogates like Hamas or Hizballah to carry out facets of its foreign policy. The stakes are quite different for the two countries; Bashar's Syria needs Israel as an enemy.


Since the threat from Israel has been the essential and necessary myth for retaining the authoritarian grip of the Alawite minority in Damascus, losing it would eliminate the al-Asad regime's raison d'etre. For this reason, in any successful U.S.-brokered negotiation with Israel, Damascus would likely require guarantees from the United States to ease its pressure on the regime and perhaps give the nod to Syria's reasserted control over Lebanon. Doing so, however, would be highly problematic in Washington and would send the worst possible message to those in the region, especially the Lebanese who are struggling to free themselves from their own autocrats. Sacrificing human rights in pursuit of a possible peace deal may seem an acceptable trade-off to some, but given the ruling clique's view that peace and regime preservation are zero-sum options, to seek a peace agreement is to chase a mirage.

J. Scott Carpenter is Keston Family fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and director of its Project Fikra.

Czech PM: We'll fight EU calls to freeze Israel ties

Barak Ravid

Czech Prime Minister Mirel Topolanek told President Shimon Peres on Friday that his country, which holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, would fight against calls within Europe to suspend the upgrade of relations with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told the visiting Czech premier that Israel's relationship to the European Union should not be linked to its relationship to the Palestinians.

"Don't set conditions for us," Netanyahu told Topolanek during their meeting. "Peace is in Israel's interest no less than it is in Europe's interest, and there's no need to make the upgrade in relations with Israel conditional on progress on the peace process."

Topolanek is the first foreign government leader to visit Israel since the Netanyahu cabinet was sworn in three weeks ago. The talks between the two were reportedly conducted in a relaxed atmosphere. But Topolanek brought up the issue of construction in West Bank settlements and European concerns that this could prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"If Israelis can't build homes in the West Bank then Palestinians shouldn't be allowed to either," Netanyahu said in response. He told the Czech leader he has no intention of halting the expansion of existing settlements. "I have no plans to build new settlements, but if someone wants to build a new home [in an existing one], I don't think there's a problem." He characterized the West Bank as "disputed territory" over which negotiations must be held.

Topolanek asked Netanyahu whether he intended to evacuate the illegal outposts on the West Bank, as Israel has promised in the past in the road map and other agreements. Netanyahu said the outposts are both a domestic and foreign issue. "I intend to enforce the law with regard to the outposts," he said.

As rotating president of the EU, the Czech Republic is involved in the upgrading of Israel's relations with that organization. The upgrade was suspended after the formation of the Netanyahu government and his refusal to accept the "two states for two peoples" formula. A few weeks ago, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg announced the cancellation of a summit scheduled for June between Netanyahu and his European counterparts.

"We expect a clear commitment from the new [Israeli] government to pursue negotiations with the Palestinians," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in Brussels on Thursday. "We expect a stop of all activities undermining our objective to a two-state solution - and this includes in particular settlement expansion, which is continuing on a daily basis. The ball is now in the court of Israel."

Mossad warns businessman: Hizbullah may target you

Israeli businessman returns from Europe after Mossad warns him of kidnapping plot

Roni Sofer
Israel News

Terror alert: An Israeli businessman who is also an IDF lieutenant-colonel (res.) has returned to Israel from Europe recently after being warned that he may be a Hizbullah target. Channel 10 reported Thursday that Israeli businesspeople have been returning to the Jewish State from Europe as of late due to similar threats. However, officials at the Counter Terrorism Bureau said they were not familiar with any other specific cases aside from the above-mentioned one.

Israel's security establishment has warned that Hizbullah plans to commit terror attacks against Israelis and Jews across the world in retaliation for the killing of Imad Mugniyah, a senior member of the group, in Damascus in February of 2008. The group accused Israel of the assassination, even though Jerusalem did not claim responsibility for it.

A senior security official told Ynet that the businessman returned to Israel due to fears that he would be kidnapped. According to the few details that have been cleared for publication, the man received a warning to this effect from the Mossad.

Hizbullah's other assumed targets include Israeli and Jewish institutions throughout the world, as well as Israeli airlines and delegations.

Thanks YNET news<

Obama asks Congress to relax rules on aid to Palestinians, softens tone on Hamas

Cozying up to jihad terrorists -- the outcome of that can in no way be positive.

Washington signals softer tone on Hamas," by Daniel Dombey and Tobias Buck in the Financial Times, April 22 (thanks to Pamela): Barack Obama's administration is trying to smooth the way for aid to a Palestinian government backed by Hamas in a striking contrast to the policy of George W. Bush, the former president, who sought to bring down any such government.

In a request for more than $800m in US funds for the West Bank and Gaza, the administration has asked Congress to soften rules for granting assistance to the Palestinians, to prevent disruption of aid in the event of a national unity government being formed....

According to legislation passed this year, aid to a power-sharing government including Hamas can only continue if Mr Obama certifies that the militant Islamist organisation has accepted international principles including renouncing violence, abiding by past agreements and recognising Israel's right to exist.

The latest request by the administration would instead require that the president certify "that such [a] government has accepted and is complying with the principles".

That is a much easier test, since Palestinian officials say any coalition agreed by the two parties would not include members of Hamas or its rival Fatah, but instead rely on independent politicians and technocrats.

The US move comes in spite of Israeli arguments that peace would not be advanced by a Palestinian government that included Hamas, which Israel, the US and the European Union all identify as a terrorist organisation....

Meanwhile, Obama has approved a Turkish arms sale to Lebanon, and the Russians, ever eager to aid the global jihad, are giving Lebanon fighter jets for free. Hmmm. I wonder who the Lebanese will use them against? Pamela has details.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Clinton Stays On Course

Rubin Reports

23 Apr 2009 05:37 AM PDT
In the same congressional testimony where she discussed U.S. Iran policy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said that the United States would only work with a Palestinian regime that met the conditions of the Quartet (Europe, UN, Russia, United States). That is: recognize Israel, abandon violence, accept all previous agreements. President Barack Obama included a similar point in his statement after meeting King Abdallah of Jordan. This reinforces the U.S. boycott of Hamas, which seems to have weakened somewhat in British policy. In theory, it leaves the door open for dealing with a Palestinian Authority (PA) coalition regime of Fatah and Hamas. In practice, though, this isn't going to happen.

Fatah and Hamas each want to dominate the other. Hamas believes it is winning. It is allied with Iran which will be a nuclear power in the not-distant future, it probably expects (more likely, but not necessarily, wrongly) to take over the West Bank in a few years, and it believes (with more good reasons) that the Western opposition to it is crumbling.

Meanwhile, the PA continues to be corrupt and provides no alternative world view of how beneficial peace with Israel would be, including allowing creation of a Palestinian state. Its strategy seems to consist of: blaming Israel for all problems and hoping the world will pressure Israel into unilateral concessions so it can get a state without doing anything to earn one in a peace based on mutual compromise and conciliation.

[A digression on PA corruption. It has just been revealed that two sons of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas received $2 million in U.S. aid money for various projects including improving America's image among Palestinians. Memo to Tarek and Yasser Abbas: Easy way to earn the money! Tell your father to stop running anti-American materials in the PA's radio, television and newspaper outlets.]

In addition, the Hamas leaders really believe what they are saying and are not closet pragmatists. On a practical level, however, they understand that their advantage over Fatah and the PA is their open extremism and their more energetic practice of terrorist violence.

For four reasons then--desire for power, ideology, strategy, and confidence--Hamas is not going to submit itself to the PA. It certainly isn't going to meet the Quartet's conditions.

There are those in Fatah eager for a deal with Hamas. Indeed, they are far more eager for peace with Hamas than for peace with Israel. They are ready to sacrifice the latter for the former. Yet Hamas's terms are likely to be too steep for them.

Thus, Clinton's statement and U.S. policy are that the United States puts its faith in Fatah and the PA as the vehicle for making rapid progress in the "peace process." They will funnel money to the PA and train its military forces.

They are wrong to expect the PA to move toward peace but right to back it (though this should not be done so idealistically and uncritically). Hamas must be kept from taking over Palestinian leadership.

And remember, this like every issue is in the context of the great battle now going on in the region: the struggle between nationalists (including Israeli and Turkish) against Islamists, and between an Iran-led coalition (the HISH--Hamas, Iran, Hizballah, and Syria) and most Arab regimes plus Israel.

Clinton: PA Arabs Must Recognize Israel

April 23, '09
by Avraham Zuroff

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, stated Wednesday that the States would not finance or participate in contacts with a government run by Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs that included Hamas unless it would renounce violence and recognize Israel. Clinton furthermore stated that three conditions, which were adopted by the international community, would have to be fulfilled before the US would deal with a PA that includes Hamas. "We will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless and until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agrees to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority," Clinton told the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

Clinton’s appearance in the House of Representatives was the first since her confirmation hearings in January.

Regarding the diplomatic process between Israel and the PA, Clinton said that Washington is actively involved in assisting the sides in arriving at a two-state solution.

US Running Dual Diplomacy towards Iran
Clinton told the Washington lawmakers that the Obama administration is running a dual-track program in its persuading Iran to prevent its development of nuclear weaponry.

“We are more than willing to reach out to the Iranians to discuss a range of issues,” should Tehran reciprocate, Clinton stated. However, if all else fails, Clinton said that the U.S. would implement sanctions towards Iran. “We are also laying the groundwork for the kind of very tough sanctions, I think you said crippling sanctions, that might be necessary in the event that our offers are either rejected or the process is inconclusive or unsuccessful,” Clinton added.

Iran said Wednesday that it is open to “constructive dialogue” with world powers regarding its nuclear ambitions. However, chief nuclear negotiator Said Jalili told Iranian news agencies that Iran would not halt its nuclear program.

Last week, Ahmadinejad stated that Iran would present a package of proposals to a group of permanent members of the UN’s Security Council who favor dialogue with Iran. The package, a revamp of Iran’s proposals offered in May 2008, would be presented as “solving the world’s problems” – including the setting-up of a uranium enrichment facility and nuclear fuel manufacturing plant in Iran.


( Arab Faces Death for Land Sale
by Hillel Fendel

As a Palestinian Authority Arab faces the death sentence for selling land to Jews, a civil rights group asks Prime Minister Netanyahu to demand that PA rescind death penalty for the “crime.”

The Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Civil Rights Organization has written an urgent letter to Binyamin Netanyahu and ministers in his government in light of the opening of the trial this week. According to PA law, the defendant faces the death penalty if convicted.

The letter, addressed to Netanyahu and the Ministers of Justice, Defense, and Public Security, states, “The Land of Israel is now the only place in the world where the law officially bans the sale of land to Jews because they are Jews. Even worse, the punishment for violators is actually death.”

The organization says that Netanyahu’s government must set an ultimatum: “No negotiations with the Palestinian Authority until this anti-Semitic law is rescinded. This demand takes precedence even over the insistence that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”

The trial of the Hevron resident in a special PA court began on Tuesday, with the defendant accused of having sold land in the Hevron area to Jews. The Yesha group asks Netanyahu and the ministers to step in to save the man, who is being charged with treason.

Israel’s intervention in the past has caused the PA to release others who had been jailed on suspicion of selling land to Jews. These include Arab-Israelis living in eastern Jerusalem.

Strook: "Such a Law is a Red Light for Diplomatic Relations"

Orit Strook of the Jewish Community of Hevron, the director of the Yesha Civil Rights group, says, “Israel would never have diplomatic relations with any country that has on its books a law forbidding the sale of land to Jews.”

Her organization’s letter states that the confiscation of Beit HaShalom (Peace House) from its rightful Jewish owners in Hevron several months ago is directly related to the fact that Arabs must fear for their lives when selling to Jews: “The Israeli authorities act as if the Arab sellers are free people, when in fact a gun is pointed at their heads and they must do everything they can to hide their actions – and this is why they claimed after the sale of Beit HaShalom [to Jew that they never sold it.”

“So long as the ‘Palestinian rule of law’ is not uprooted from its source,” the letter concludes, “all the talk about Israeli rule of law in Judea and Samaria has no foothold in reality.”

Comments from Aggie: Either the headline does not accurately reflect the article or Clinton misses the mark. She speaks of what Hamas must do, yet the PA is no different. Abbas recently became hysterical when Netanyahu suggested that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Worse yet, to date the PA charter continues to call for the destruction of Israel, while incitement, terror, and death sentence for selling land to Jews is a fact of everyday life. The PA has met none of its obligations under the Road Map, yet it demands an end to Jews living in Judea and Samaria and the flooding of Israel with its "refugees."

The PA makes many demands but is willing to give up nothing. Its actions demonstrate zero good faith. This is not a willing peace partner. Wake up Hillary!


Arab Faces Death for Land Sale

Hillel Fendel Arab Faces Death for Land Sale

As a Palestinian Authority Arab faces the death sentence for selling land to Jews, a civil rights group asks Prime Minister Netanyahu to demand that PA rescind death penalty for the “crime.” The Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Civil Rights Organization has written an urgent letter to Binyamin Netanyahu and ministers in his government in light of the opening of the trial this week. According to PA law, the defendant faces the death penalty if convicted.

The letter, addressed to Netanyahu and the Ministers of Justice, Defense, and Public Security, states, “The Land of Israel is now the only place in the world where the law officially bans the sale of land to Jews because they are Jews. Even worse, the punishment for violators is actually death.”

The organization says that Netanyahu’s government must set an ultimatum: “No negotiations with the Palestinian Authority until this anti-Semitic law is rescinded. This demand takes precedence even over the insistence that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”

The trial of the Hevron resident in a special PA court began on Tuesday, with the defendant accused of having sold land in the Hevron area to Jews. The Yesha group asks Netanyahu and the ministers to step in to save the man, who is being charged with treason.

Israel’s intervention in the past has caused the PA to release others who had been jailed on suspicion of selling land to Jews. These include Arab-Israelis living in eastern Jerusalem.

Strook: "Such a Law is a Red Light for Diplomatic Relations"

Orit Strook of the Jewish Community of Hevron, the director of the Yesha Civil Rights group, says, “Israel would never have diplomatic relations with any country that has on its books a law forbidding the sale of land to Jews.”

Her organization’s letter states that the confiscation of Beit HaShalom (Peace House) from its rightful Jewish owners in Hevron several months ago is directly related to the fact that Arabs must fear for their lives when selling to Jews: “The Israeli authorities act as if the Arab sellers are free people, when in fact a gun is pointed at their heads and they must do everything they can to hide their actions – and this is why they claimed after the sale of Beit HaShalom [to Jew that they never sold it.”

“So long as the ‘Palestinian rule of law’ is not uprooted from its source,” the letter concludes, “all the talk about Israeli rule of law in Judea and Samaria has no foothold in reality.”

Israel must present its own Plan

Ted Belman

Now that Obama has indicated that Netanyahu will be invited to Washington for talks, Netanyahu is getting ready.

DEBKAfile’s exclusive Washington sources disclose,

the US president accepted the extended Arab peace plan initiated by Saudi Arabia and reaffirmed at a foreign ministers’ conference in Amman this month. He will present this formula to his three Middle East visitors as the starting point for the diplomatic process. Three major flies in Washington’s peacemaking ointment are,

1, the rival Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions failed to achieve a power-sharing accord in the negotiations brokered in person by Gen. Suleiman. Mahmoud Abbas therefore represents only one Palestinian faction - and not necessarily the largest one. The rejectionist Hamas and the Gaza Strip would be left out of any peace equation and be well-placed to sabotage it.

2. Syria stands opposed to the Arab peace initiative.

3. The Israeli position will be clarified by Netanyahu when he meets the US president in Washington in about a month. Whatever concessions he may offer, they will not include acceptance of the 1948 Palestinian refugees or the renunciation of historic Jerusalem to the Palestinian state, both key Arab demands.

Why is Netanyahu silent on the issue of borders and uprooting Jews from the land?

At a minimum Netanyahu should take the position that his government will not offer as much as the former government.

In addition, he should say that

1. Israel Is entitled by Res 242 to secure borders otherwise known as defensible borders.

2. Israel does not recognize any obligation to retreat from all the land and therefore there is no justification for demanding mutual exchanges of land.

3. Israel will not offer more land to the new entity than the 93% already offered and such offer may be withdrawn at any time.

4. Israel will consider offereing Israeli land on which Arabs live in exchange for the settlements.

5. Israel must retain Maaleh Adumin and Ariel.

6. Israel is not obligated to connect Gaza to Judea and Samaria.

7. Israel will not abandon the Roadmap, requiring an end to violence and incitement, for the Arab Initiative. For Obama to embrace the Plan, is to prejudge the outcome.

8. The Arab Initiative has no standing in the peace process. It is just an offer.

Israel should set this all out in a Plan so that there will be two plans on the table. Israel should not agree to allow the Arab Initiative to frame the debate.

If the Arabs reject Israel’s plan out of hand then Israel should similarily reject their plan.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Claims against Incidents where UN and international facilities were fired upon and damaged during Operation Cast Lead

The investigation was conducted by Col. Itzik Turgeman with the objective of thoroughly examining claims regarding 13 incidents in which facilities, structures and vehicles associated with the United Nations (UN) or other international organizations were damaged.

The majority of the incidents that were investigated were detailed in the complaints submitted to the IDF by the UN during Operation Cast Lead and thereafter, while other incidents were discovered during the process of investigatingThe investigation showed that the IDF took numerous measures to avoid hitting facilities and vehicles affiliated with the UN, Red Cross and other international organizations. These facilities were marked on IDF maps in advance according to the information provided by the international organizations. Clear orders were given stating that the hitting of facilities and vehicles of this sort must be avoided. Coordination between the IDF and the UN, the Red Cross and the international organizations was done via a special Civil Administration situation room and a center for humanitarian coordination that was established in order to allow day to day humanitarian aid coordination.

Investigation shows that Hamas and the other terror organizations operating in the Gaza Strip placed the facilities used by the UN and other international organizations in substantial danger. With the knowledge that the IDF limits its operations in the vicinity of such facilities, the terror organizations intentionally launched rockets and mortar shells adjacent to them. Similarly, Hamas and other terrorist organizations located headquarters, bases, weapon storage facilities and other terrorist infrastructure close to the sensitive facilities of the UN, Red Cross and other international organizations.

Below are the findings of the investigation with regard to some of the prominent incidents that were investigated:

A. Claims about the Incident at the UNRWA school in Jabaliya ("Fahoura" School)

The incident occurred near the UNRWA school ("Fahoura" School) in Jabaliya on January 6th, 2009. Hamas operatives used a site located only 80 meters away from the school to launch mortar shells at IDF forces. The shells exploded next to an IDF force operating in the area, and represented a grave threat to the soldiers. The previous day thirty IDF soldiers were wounded by Hamas mortar fire. The mortar fire presented a very significant threat to the lives of IDF forces.

Following a confirmed and cross-referenced identification of the source of the fire, the soldiers under attack responded with minimal and proportionate retaliatory fire, using the most precise weapon available to them, with the purpose of stopping the Hamas fire. The return fire hit the Hamas operatives who were firing the mortars and stopped their fire. All of the shells fired by the force landed outside of the school grounds (contrary to claims made by Hamas). Sadly, due to the fact that Hamas was firing from a populated area, the return fire also resulted in unintentional harm to civilians in the vicinity.

Despite the fact that the incident took place outside the UNRWA school grounds, Hamas was quick to accuse Israel of intentionally hitting the UN Facility. The investigation showed unequivocally that those claims were false. This was reinforced by the UN in a press release published subsequent to the operation. Additionally, the investigation showed that a cell of five terror operatives and seven civilians outside of the school grounds were hit, contrary to the 42 deaths that were reported by Hamas inside the school grounds.

B. Claims made Regarding Damage to the UNRWA Headquarters and to a Building which turned out to be a Red Cross Pharmaceutical Storage facility in Tel El-Hawa

Two incidents were investigated that took place on January 15th 2009 during fierce fighting in the Hamas' stronghold in the Tel El-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza city. Hamas deployed anti-tank squads near sensitive facilities in the neighborhood, intending to deliver a strategic blow to the IDF (e.g. by hitting an IDF tank).

Damage to a structure that turned out to be a pharmaceutical storage facility– The investigation showed that during the battle, IDF forces came under fire from both anti-tank and small arms fire by terrorists located next to a structure that was later discovered to contain a Red Cross pharmaceutical storage facility.

The IDF returned fire towards the source of fire only after an IDF armored bulldozer suffered a direct hit from anti-tank fire. During the ensuing exchange of fire, which included the IDF's responsive firing, it appears that the structure containing the storage facility was hit. The IDF was not provided with the location of the storage facility in question by the Red Cross prior to the operation and therefore was not marked on the IDF's maps, unlike other Red Cross facilities. No one was injured during the incident.

Damage to the storage facility in the UNRWA headquarters compound – Concurrently, in the same general area, the IDF deployed a smoke screen in order to protect a tank force operating in the neighborhood from Hamas anti-tank crews who had positioned themselves adjacent to the UNRWA headquarters. The smoke screen was intended to block the terrorists' field of view. Information received by the IDF shows that the smoke screen did assist in protecting the force and prevented precise anti-tank fire against IDF forces. The smoke projectiles were fired at an area a considerable distance from the UNRWA headquarters, and were not intended to cause damage to either person or property. However, it appears that fragments of the smoke projectiles did hit a warehouse located in the headquarters, causing it to catch fire.

During the incident, claims were also made that an explosive shell or shrapnel hit the UNRWA headquarters. The investigation showed that these were shells, or shell fragments that were fired at military targets within the battle zone.

The damage caused to the UNRWA headquarters during the fighting in the Tel El-Hawwa neighborhood is the unfortunate result of the type of warfare that Hamas forced upon the IDF, involving combat in the Gaza Strip's urban spaces and adjacent to facilities associated with international organizations. These results could not be predicted.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the forces did not intend, at any stage, to hit a UN facility. Following UN complaints that an explosive shell had hit the headquarters, the forces were ordered to cease firing explosive shells in the region in question. Following the receipt of reports about the fire in the warehouse, all firing in the area was stopped. The entry of fire-fighting trucks to the area was coordinated with the IDF in order to assist in extinguishing the fire.

C. Terrorist Use of UN Vehicles

The investigation also looked into a complaint that an UNRWA vehicle was fired on in the Tel El Hawa neighborhood on January 14th 2009. The investigation reached the conclusion that during the incident a vehicle was fired upon, which it was later claimed belonged to the UN, but the vehicle did not bear UN markings. The vehicle was traveling in an area that international organizations had been clearly informed was forbidden for the movement of vehicles. The vehicle was carrying a Palestinian anti-tank squad. It was fired upon only after it had unloaded the terrorist squad and advanced towards the forces in a manner creating a genuine concern that it was a Hamas car bomb.

D. IDF-UN Coordination

During the operation, the IDF constantly coordinated with the UN and other international organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. Coordination included the movement of 500 vehicles and convoys and the transfer of a continuous supply of food and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Many other problems were efficiently solved in real time. However, despite the thorough coordination, the investigation showed that during certain incidents there were failures in coordination.

In one instance, an IDF force fired upon a UN truck, which did not bear UN markings, on a journey that had not been coordinated ahead of time with the IDF. The investigation showed that closer coordination of the movement of UN vehicles is required, with an emphasis on precise routes and schedules.

The investigation concluded that the IDF did not, at any time, fire with the deliberate intention to hit a UN vehicle or facility in any of the 13 incidents investigated. In one instance the IDF targeted a group of people who were present in a UN-affiliated school late at night, at a time in which there were no classes taking place in the school, following specific intelligence and relying on the suspicion that led to the conclusion that they were participating in terrorist operations. In another incident, IDF forces attacked a UN vehicle which was being used for terrorist operations.

The IDF made sure not to hit facilities and vehicles associated with the UN and other international organizations and operated with extreme caution in order not to harm more than 1800 sensitive facilities located in the Gaza Strip. The IDF also coordinated almost 500 different vehicle movements during the fighting. However, as noted, in a very small number of incidents facilities and vehicles were unintentionally hit.

In relation to the scale of fighting and the threat posed by Hamas, the damage caused to UN facilities and vehicles was relatively limited as a result of the various precautionary measures taken by the IDF. The small number of incidents where damage was unfortunately caused occurred first and foremost as a result of Hamas' doctrine. Hamas as well as other terrorist organizations chose to fight under the cover of sensitive humanitarian facilities.

It should be noted that in one incident where it was found that a UN vehicle was fired upon in a breach of the IDF’s rules of engagement, the soldier in question was court-martialed.

The IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, was presented with the conclusions of the investigation. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi also emphasized the importance of avoiding harm to UN and other international facilities. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi emphasized how important it is that IDF forces on all levels are familiarized with the locations of sensitive facilities within their assigned combat zone. He ordered that the regulations regarding safety-distances from sensitive facilities be highlighted, specifically with regard to the use of artillery. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi also ordered that steps be taken to improve the coordination between the IDF and UN organizations working in the field, in the areas where it was lacking.

It should be noted that the incidents which were investigated by the IDF were also examined by the UN Board of Inquiry appointed by the UN Secretary General for the investigation of damage caused to UN facilities in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead. Despite the fact that the investigation by the IDF was initiated prior to the decision by the Secretary General to set up a UN committee of investigation, Israel cooperated with the UN committee and presented it with the findings of its investigation.

Annex B:

Primary Conclusions:

Claims regarding incidents involving shooting at medical facilities, buildings, vehicles and crews

The investigation was conducted by Col. Erez Katz, and looked into claims that the IDF fired on or attacked medical crews, facilities, structures and vehicles. Some of these claims were described in a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court during the operation. During the investigation, additional claims were identified and the investigation was expanded to also include these incidents.

The investigation showed that the Hamas systematically used medical facilities, vehicles and uniforms as cover for terrorist operations. This included the extensive use of ambulances to transport terror operatives and weaponry; the use of ambulances to “evacuate” terrorists from the battlefield and the use of hospitals and medical infrastructure as headquarters, situation-rooms, command centers, and hiding places.

For example, Ismail Haniyeh decided to place his central command center in one of the Shifa Hospital units, while the senior leaders (both military and political) stationed themselves in another unit. On the ground floor of the hospital's main building, an entire wing was closed off and was solely used by Hamas terror operatives. At the wing's entrance, terror operatives prevented entrance to all uninvolved civilians.

In other instances, Hamas terror operatives seized control sections of Al-Shafa Hospital. Hamas also took control of a Red Crescent medical clinic in Khan Yunis, converting it into a prisoner detention facility.

In testimony by an ambulance driver published in the Italian newspaper Corriere de la Serra the driver claimed that he was forced by Hamas to extract terror operatives from the fighting zone, with the knowledge that he could coordinate with the IDF to temporarily hold fire so that he could safely evacuate the wounded. Several instances were reported in which ambulances were witnessed carrying armed Hamas terror operatives alongside the medical crews.

This illegitimate and illegal use of medial facilities sometimes resulted in damage being caused to them.

After investigating the incidents it became clear that of the seven casualties reported during the incidents in question, five were Hamas operatives. In addition, it was determined that in some of the incidents in which medical vehicles were damaged, the vehicles were driven in a suspicious manner, without prior coordination with IDF forces and in some cases without being clearly marked (such as using flashing lights) . This caused, in some cases, the vehicle to be incorrectly identified, and aroused the suspicions of the forces that the vehicle might be used for a suicide attack.

In one example an IDF force sheltering in a structure in the Gaza Strip received a concrete warning that terrorist elements intend to execute an attack against the force. Following the warning, the force identified an ambulance driving speedily towards the structure, bypassing a roadblock. The force took a number of warning measures (including the firing of warning shots in the air) which failed to bring the ambulance to a halt. The ambulance continued to progress towards the structure and reached the threatening distance of 50 meters from the structure, at which point the force fire in towards it. Only then did the vehicle turn around and drive off in the other direction.

In a separate incident, an ambulance was identified driving towards a shelter occupied by IDF forces, late at night, without any prior coordination, clear markings or flashing lights, raising suspicion that it was a car bomb. The force fired warning shots into the air, followed by warning shots near the vehicle. When the vehicle was only 100 meters away from the force, constituting a serious threat to the force, the force opened fire on it. In this incident as well, only then did the vehicle halt, turn around and drive away in the other direction.

In two of the incidents investigated (which were both mentioned in the Supreme Court appeal), it turned out that members of the medical crew who were supposedly "hit" in the incident – are alive and well. With regards to other incidents, the investigation could not find any evidence that they took place (likewise, at the time of some of the alleged incidents the, IDF was not operating at the location in question).

The investigation looked into an incident in which a building containing a mother-and-child clinic was attacked by the IDF. It became clear that Hamas used the same building as a weapons storage facility. The attack was aimed against the weapons storage facility. The investigation further showed that the clinic was not signposted in a way that made it possible to identify that building contained a medical facility. Nevertheless, the investigation clarified that the residents of the building were given a warning prior to the attack. Given that the IDF was not aware that there was a clinic located there, there was no intention to hit it.

The investigation also showed that IDF forces at all levels were directed to take extra caution to avoid harming medical crews and facilities, and in many cases ceased to operate when there was a medical vehicle or medical staff present in their area of operation. The forces took extraordinary care, as obliged by international law and in some incidents even refrained from attacking “medical vehicles” even when it was clear that they were in fact being used by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the fighting. The investigation clearly showed that the forces were well aware of, and respected the special status given to medical crews, vehicles, structures and facilities. In addition, the orders relating to the use of force near medical vehicles were strengthened during the operation, making the IDF regulations stricter than those obliged by international law.

In addition, the investigation noted that the IDF operated a medical situation room in the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison, which coordinated the evacuation of bodies, the wounded and trapped civilians from the combat zone. During the operation, the medical situation room coordinated 150 different requests.

The IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, accepted the recommendations made by the Head of the investigation, stating that the awareness of the importance of preventing harm to medical crews, facilities and vehicles must be preserved. These issues should be practiced by all forces in "incidents and responses" drills. Finally, the Chief of the General Staff ordered an examination of the operation of the humanitarian corridor which was opened for the benefit of the local population during the fighting.

Towards the conclusion of the investigation, the IDF received additional claims relating to allegations of firing upon medical facilities and vehicles. These claims are currently being investigated.

Annex C:

Claims regarding incidents in which many uninvolved civilians were harmed

The investigation was conducted by Col. Tamir Yidai and looked into seven incidents in which it was claimed, civilians were harmed by the IDF. This is a highly sensitive matter, for any loss of human life is unfortunate. This is especially true for the IDF, an ethical army that emphasizes the values of human life and the purity of arms. The investigation reached the conclusion that that in all of the incidents which were examined, IDF forces did not intentionally attack civilians who were not involved in the fighting.

In circumstances where there existed the risk of unintentionally harming uninvolved civilians, the IDF took many measures to minimize this risk, including the use of precise intelligence and providing warnings prior to the attack.

During the incidents in question, IDF operations did cause harm to uninvolved civilians. However, the results of this investigation make it clear that this was not intentional, but the result of circumstances beyond the control of the forces or due to unexpected operational mistakes. A significant proportion of the incidents occurred as a result of Hamas' illegitimate use of its own civilians. The Hamas took cover amongst the civilian population and used civilians facilities and structures as part of its terrorist operation against Israel.

The incidents which were investigated:

· The attack on the house of senior Hamas operative Nazar Ri'an (January 4th, 2009) - The investigation showed that Ri'an's house was attacked due to its use by Hamas for storing large quantities of sophisticated weapons. Prior to the attack, the forces took a long series of measures to avoid harming uninvolved civilians (It must be stressed that Ri'an could have been considered a legitimate military target due to his central role in the planning and executing terror attacks, was not the target of the attack. The target was the weapons storage facility located in his home). These measures included a phone call notifying of the planned attack, the firing of preliminary warning shots using light weapons, waiting a sufficient period of time to allow the residents of the house to evacuate, and the identification of a group of people exiting the house. Only at that point, after all indications led to the conclusion that the building was empty, was the house targeted. It was later discovered that for unknown reasons, Ri'an and his family stayed in the building in spite of the many warnings and lengthy period of time allowed for their evacuation. Secondary explosions were clearly visible following the attack, proving that the building was used as for weapons storage.

· The attack on the house of Dr. Abu el Eish (January 17th, 2009) – The investigation showed that an IDF force identified suspicious figures on the third floor of the building, raising suspicions that the figures were observing IDF forces in order to direct sniper fire from another building. This was a method of action used by Hamas throughout the operation. Prior to firing at the snipers and the spotters, the regional commander took a series of measures to ensure that the suspicious figures were gunmen and that no civilians would be endangered by the attack. Accordingly, the commander waited 20 minutes before ordering the attack. Unfortunately, despite all the efforts made, four women who were in the same house as the spotters were hit.

It should be noted that Israeli security forces urged Dr. Abu el Eish to leave his house and the combat zone in the days prior to the incident, but he chose to remain in his house in spite of the clear risk.

· Truck apparently carrying oxygen tanks (December 29th, 2008) – the truck was targeted after the accumulation of information which indicated convincingly that it was carrying rockets between a known Hamas rocket manufacturing facility to a known rocket launching site. The attack was carried out near a known Hamas rocket manufacturing site and after a launch. It was only later discovered that the truck was carrying oxygen tanks (similar in appearance to Grad Missiles) and not rockets. The strike killed four Hamas operatives and four uninvolved civilians. It is important to note that the oxygen tanks being carried in the truck were likely to be used by Hamas for rocket manufacturing.

· The Al-Daia family residence in the Zeitoun neighborhood in the city of Gaza (January 6th, 2009) – the incident in question was a result of an operational error with unfortunate consequences. The investigation concluded that the IDF intended to attack a weapons storage facility that was located in the building next to the Al-Daia family residence. It appears that following an error, the structure that was planned to be attacked was the Al-Daia residence rather than the building containing the weapons. The house that was actually attacked (the Al-Daia residence) did receive a number of warnings beforehand, including the preliminary firing of ammunition which causes little damage and the use of the "Knock on the Roof" special warning method. However, due to the mistake in identifying the building, the warning phone call was received prior the attack by the residents of the building containing the weapons storage, not the Al-Daia residence. This may have been the reason that the Al Daia family did not leave the house before it was mistakenly hit it. This is a highly unfortunate event with severe consequences. It was ultimately caused by a professional mistake of the type that can take place during intensive fighting in a crowded environment against an enemy that uses civilians as cover for its operations.

In addition to the abovementioned incidents, the head of the investigation looked into two incidents in which it was claimed that attacks directed at mosques lead to the deaths of uninvolved civilians. With regard to the first incident, relating to a strike against the "Maqadme" mosque in Beit-Lehiya on January 3rd, 2009, it was discovered that as opposed to the claims, the mosque was not attacked at all. Furthermore, it was found that the supposed uninvolved civilians who were the casualties of the attack were in fact Hamas operatives killed while fighting against the IDF. The second incident, regarding a supposed strike that hit the "Rabat" mosque in Bet Lehiya on January 9th, 2009 – no testimony of any IDF forces operating in the area was found. The mosque is still standing unharmed.

In all of the incidents investigated, there were no breaches of international law, and in some of them it was clear that the actions of the IDF were in fact stricter than those demanded under international law. As in any combat situation, and specifically when fighting a terrorist organization that uses its own people as human shields, the investigation discovered isolated failures, some of which lead to the harming of civilians.

The IDF Chief of the General Staff determined that even in those unfortunate incidents in which the investigation showed that the IDF operated in a way that caused harm to uninvolved civilians, the harm was not intentional and was caused despite measures that were taken to prevent it. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi ordered that clear regulations and orders be made on the basis of the conclusions of the investigation.

It must be added that the IDF is currently looking into a series of additional claims that were made against it. Upon the completion of an initial inquiry into these events, it will be decided whether they will be further investigated, in accordance with the facts and IDF investigations policy.

Annex D:

The use of weaponry containing phosphorous components

This investigation, which was conducted by Col. Shai Alkalai, focused on the use of munitions containing phosphorous components in Operation Cast Lead throughout the duration of the operation.

The investigation found that IDF forces used two different types of munitions containing white phosphorous.

It was found that during the operation, a very limited amount of the first type was used by ground and naval forces. The munitions included mortar shells fired by ground forces (not artillery shells) and 76mm rounds fired from naval vessels. These munitions contained phosphorous as the active ingredient and are not intended to create smoke screens.

The use of such munitions is legal under international law subject to certain limitations derived from their incendiary capabilities. The investigation showed that use of these munitions was done so in accordance with these limitations – they were only fired at open areas and were used for marking and range-finding rather than in an anti-personnel capacity. In one single incident, in an open uninhabited area, ammunition containing phosphorous was used to uncover tunnel entrances.

Let it be reemphasized that no phosphorus munitions were used on built-up areas or for anti-personnel purposes.

As a precautionary measure, even though international law does not prohibit the use of such means, as of January 7th 2009, it was decided that in order to further minimize the risk to civilians from munitions containing phosphorous, the IDF would cease to use the munitions containing larger quantities of phosphorous (i.e. those not used for smoke screening). All IDF forces were directed to act accordingly.

The investigation discovered that phosphorous munitions which contained phosphorous intended for purposes other than smoke screening were used after January 7th 2009 on two occasions, by ground forces and the Israel Navy respectively, for marking purposes. These two exceptions were looked into during the investigation, which found that on both the incidents there was no breach of any of the rules of international law.

It must be stressed that the ammunition containing phosphorous used by the IDF is standard, legal and is used by other western militaries worldwide, including states who are signatories of the Third Protocol of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The investigation showed that the use of white phosphorous made by the IDF was in accordance with Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law and more specifically, the obligations with regard to munitions with incendiary characteristics.

Most of the munitions containing phosphorus which were used during the operation were of a second type, and contained pieces of felt dipped in phosphorous in a manner that is not intended to cause injuries and which are non-incendiary, and are used exclusively to create smoke screens. Moreover, these are munitions which conform in full, with international law. In addition, the limitations under international law on the use of "incendiary munitions” do not apply to this type of munitions.

In this context is should be emphasized that the Third Protocol of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which defines specific limitations on the use of “incendiary munitions”, clearly states that smoke obscurants are not considered "incendiary munitions". Israel is not a party to the Third Protocol, but it should be noted that even states that are a party to the Protocol make use of smoke shells which contain a small quantity of phosphorous for the purpose of smoke obscuration.

The use made by the IDF of obscurant smoke shells was for military requirements only (e.g. camouflaging armored forces from anti-tank squads deployed by Hamas in Gaza's urban areas). This use was in accordance with international law, while balancing between operational and humanitarian considerations. The use of smoke obscurants proved to be a very effective means and in many cases prevented the need to use explosive munitions whose impact would have been considerably more dangerous.

After having being presented with the conclusions of the investigation, the Chief of the General Staff emphasized the importance of a clear doctrine and commands on the issue of various munitions which contain phosphorous. In addition, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi ordered that any use of phosphorous for purposes other than smoke obscuration be treated as exceptional.

Annex E:

Primary Conclusions:

Damage to infrastructure and destruction of buildings by ground forces

This investigation, carried out by Col. Adam Zusman, focused on issues relating to the infrastructure operations and the demolishing of structures by the IDF forces during the ground operations phase of Operation Cast Lead. During the investigation the commanders of the forces that participated in the operation were questioned in relation to the issues being investigated. In addition, the investigation gathering data from relevant institutions and examined the relevant military orders.

The investigation showed that Hamas based its main line of defense on civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip (i.e. buildings, infrastructure, agricultural lands etc.), and specifically on booby trapped structures (mostly residential), the digging of explosive tunnels and tunnels intended for the moving of people and weaponry. This created an above ground and underground deployment in the Gaza Strip's urban areas by Hamas. During the operation, IDF forces were forced not only to fight the gunmen themselves, but to also deal with the physical terrorist infrastructure prepared by the Hamas and other terrorist organizations in advance. As part of this challenge, the forces demolished structures that threatened the forces and had to be removed – houses which were used by the enemy; other structures used by the enemy for terrorist activity; structures that prevented the forces from moving from one area to another (given that many of the roads were booby trapped); structures that were used to protect Israeli soldiers; agricultural elements used as cover for enemy tunnels and infrastructure; and infrastructure next to the security fence used by Hamas for operations against IDF forces or for digging tunnels into Israeli territory.

IDF operations which were intended to demolish booby trapped or structures rigged with explosives (and other similar operations) successfully prevented the enemy from detonating these structures while IDF forces were in them, despite the enormous efforts made by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, who rigged a substantial number of buildings to explode in the areas where the IDF operated.

The investigation shows that in all the areas of operation, the decision to authorize the demolishing of houses was only made by high ranking officers. In addition, the destruction of buildings was only initiated after it was determined by the forces that they were vacant. As a result, as far as the investigation was able to determine, no uninvolved civilians were harmed during the demolition of infrastructure and buildings by IDF forces.

The investigation showed that in many cases, the preparations made by Hamas and other terrorist organizations were responsible for the significant damage caused to houses. This was due to the secondary explosions caused by the detonation of explosive devices or weaponry placed by Hamas within the structures. This was illustrated by an incident which was investigated, in which a building in one of Gaza's northern neighborhoods was fired upon, resulting in the unexpected detonation of a chain of explosive devices planted by Hamas, damaging many other buildings in the neighborhood.

The investigation showed that the orders and directions given with regard to damage to property during the operation, at all levels, emphasized that all demolition operations should be carried out in a manner which would minimize to the greatest extent possible the damage caused to any property not used by Hamas and other terror organizations in the fighting. During the investigation it was apparent that that this issue was not stressed sufficiently in the written plans for the operation. However, the investigation clearly showed that the forces in the field understood in which circumstances structures or infrastructure could be demolished as well as the limitations relating to demolitions.

The investigations did not identify any instances of intentional harm done to civilian infrastructure and with the exception of a single incident (which was immediately halted by the relevant Brigade Commander, and was dealt with using disciplinary measures) it didn't find any incidents in which structures or property were damaged as "punishment" or without an operational justification. In all of the areas in which the IDF operated, the level of damage to the infrastructure was proportional, and did not deviate from that which was required to fulfill the operational requirements.

Overall, the extent of damage caused to buildings was a direct result of the extensive use by Hamas of those same buildings for terrorist purposes and targeting IDF forces.

The IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi accepted the recommendation made by the head of the investigation to create clear regulations and orders with regard to the issue of demolition of infrastructure and structures as well as a clear combat doctrine. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi also accepted the recommendation that the combat doctrine should include a definition of relevant "incidents and responses" to be distributed amongst all combat forces. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi also accepted the recommendation to create a clear procedure of documentation and reporting for such operations. The conclusion that the extent of the demolished infrastructure and building was proportionate, in light of the operational requirements, was also approved by the IDF Chief of the General Staff.

Obama Launches His 'New Mideast'

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Obama Launches His 'New Mideast'

U.S. President Barack Obama launched his personal Middle East initiative Tuesday by hosting Jordanian King Abdullah II, who separately met with Christian, Muslim and Reform Jewish leaders for support for a Palestinian Authority state. President Obama told King Abdullah that Israel and the PA “cannot talk forever” and demanded that both sides show “goodwill.” He specifically said that Netanyahu government leaders are “going to have to solidify their position."

While saying that both sides must show “gestures of good faith,” the president did not specify want he expected from the PA. He officially invited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for separate talks in the next few weeks.

Continuing another American attempt to create a "New Middle East," a term coined by former President Bill Clinton, he stated that both Israel and the PA “must step back from the abyss.” The president made it clear that the 18-year-long dispute will be his administration’s priority. The U.S. was instrumental in pressuring Israel to attend the Madrid Conference in 1991, which was the first diplomatic forum in which the PA and the Jewish state engaged each other.

Jordan was the first Arab country to be hosted by President Obama, who two weeks ago visited Turkey, where he stated, "The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.”

Before meeting with President Obama, King Abdullah conferred with Islamic Center of America leader Hassan Qaswini and National Council of Churches general secretary Michael Kinnamon.

Palestinian State: Deal-Breaker

Yoram Ettinger

( The Palestinian issue was a deal-breaker during Israel-Egypt peace negotiation. In defiance of Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski - the "Palestine Firsters" - and in spite of Palestinian terrorist threats, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat introduced a Palestinian-bypass, thus concluding a peace accord. Their determination to overcome White House and Foggy Bottom preoccupation with the Palestinian issue as, supposedly, the root core of the Arab-Israeli conflict and Middle East violence produced a peace treaty. It has lowered the prospect of an Arab-Israeli war, has decreased regional tension and has advanced US interests.

The Israel-Egypt precedent documents that the road to peace goes through Arab capitals and not through Ramallah or Gaza; that the Palestinian issue does not constitute the crown jewel of Arab politics; that the Palestinians do not possess veto power over Arab policy-making; that the Palestinian issue has not been the cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict; and that the Palestinian issue has been employed by Middle Eastern radicals as fuel - and not as water - for the regional fire.

During the October 1998 Israel-Jordan peace ceremony, Jordan's top military command impressed upon their Israeli colleagues the need to oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, since "it would constitute a death-sentence for the Hashemite regime." They expressed their disillusionment with Palestinian commitments, "which are signed in the morning and violated in the evening."

The Israel-Jordan and Israel-Egypt peace treaties have withstood Palestinian opposition and have prevailed, despite an ongoing Israeli war against Palestinian PLO and Hamas terrorism.

A dramatic departure from the roadmap of the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace treaties was taken in the 1993 Oslo Accords and their derivatives: the Hebron and Wye Accords; the Camp David II and Sharm El-Sheikh conferences; the "Disengagement"; the Zinni and Mitchell Plans; and the Quartet's Road Map toward a two-state solution. Never has a "peace process" yielded so much failure, hate education, terrorism and bloodshed and no success.

Oslo and its byproducts have subordinated Israel-Arab peace, Israel's national security and US vital interests to the resolution of the Palestinian issue.
Switching focus from the Israel-Arab track to the Israel-Palestinian track, and irrespective of Western and Israeli good intentions, the Oslo Accords and their offspring have played into the hands of Middle Eastern rogue regimes and terrorists.

The "Palestine First" approach has produced dozens of initiatives, conferences, summits, agreements and ceasefire episodes, which have yielded a series of short-lived illusions of peace and a false sense of security. The agreements have been promptly and systematically violated and crashed - since 1993 - by an unprecedented wave of Palestinian hate education, which is the manufacturing line of generic terrorism and homicide bombing.

The "two-state solution" is based on a series of erroneous assumptions, ignoring documented precedents, and therefore constitutes an erroneous policy. "Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace" - while the PLO and Hamas have been engaged in a horrific civil war, while there has not been inter-Arab peace during the last 1,400 years, while there has not been inter-Arab compliance with most inter-Arab agreements during the last 1,400 years, while there has not been a single Arab democracy during the last 1,400 years? The "two-state solution" has exacerbated regional turbulence, has fueled terrorism, has promoted war and has reduced the prospects for peace, thus undermining the national security of both the US and Israel.

Finally, drafting demography to the cause of the two-state solution constitutes either a dramatic mistake or an outrageous act of misleading the public (please see my discussion of the demographic issue here).
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Obama expects gestures from Israel, PA

HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPost correspondent, washington , THE JERUSALEM POST

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Israelis and Palestinians to take concrete steps toward peace, saying that "we can't talk forever," and that he expected to see progress on the ground in the coming months. "What we want to do is to step back from the abyss," he told reporters at a White House press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan. "It's going to require that we create some concrete steps that all parties can take that are evidence of that resolution. And the United States is going to deeply engage in this process to see if we can make progress."

Obama declined to detail what measures he had in mind, saying merely that "the parties in the region probably have a pretty good recognition of what intermediate steps could be taken as confidence-building measures."

But he did say that "at some point, steps have to be taken so that people can see progress on the ground. And that will be something that we will expect to take place in the coming months and we will help hopefully to drive a process where each side is willing to build confidence."

Many Israeli observers have been concerned that the Obama administration will pressure Israel to freeze settlement growth, take down road blocks and even open the border with the Gaza Strip, despite the government's unwillingness to do so for political and security reasons.

Since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took office, there have also been differences with the US over the prospect of reaching a settlement with the Palestinians, as the new prime minister has been reluctant to endorse a Palestinian state.

In keeping with recent statements by American officials, Obama said, "I am a strong supporter of a two-state solution. I have articulated that publicly and I will articulate that privately."

At the same time, he made an oblique reference to Netanyahu's difficult political position, in which his heavily right-wing coalition imposes constraints on how far he can go in reaching out to the Palestinians.

"The Israelis now have had a government for a few weeks and it was a very complicated process for them to put a coalition together," Obama said, adding that "more listening still needs to be done" by his envoy, George Mitchell.

Obama also noted that he expected to have meetings in the United States soon, when Netanyahu visits.

Abdullah was the first Middle East leader to be received by Obama, and the White House has invited Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to come for separate meetings over the coming weeks, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

Abdullah welcomed Obama's involvement in the Middle East peace process and his support for the Arab peace plan.

He also praised his outreach to Arabs and Muslims.

"It has gone on extremely well and really begins, I believe, a new page of mutual respect and mutual understanding between cultures," he said.

Abdullah's visit came as a representative of a united Arab front seeking progress on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including a reaffirmation of the Arab League peace plan offering a comprehensive peace.

Obama spoke warmly of the plan following his meeting with Abdullah, noting, "We have gone out of our way to complement the efforts of those Arab states that were involved in formulating the Arab Peace Initiative as a very constructive start."

The meeting also touched on the economic crisis, the war in Afghanistan, and the threat of terrorism and Iran.

Asked about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hostile words toward Israel at the UN-sponsored World Conference Against Racism in Geneva Monday, where he called the Jewish state a "most cruel and oppressive, racist regime," Obama strongly condemned his comments.

"I found many of the statements that President Ahmadinejad made, particularly those directed at Israel, to be appalling and objectionable," he said.

But he added that they wouldn't affect his policy of engagement toward Teheran, even as he suggested that Ahmadinejad's speech had set back Iran's cause.

"There's no doubt that the kind of rhetoric you saw from Ahmadinejad is not helpful. In fact, it is harmful - but not just with respect to the possibility of US-Iranian relations; I think it actually undermines Iranians' position in the world as a whole," Obama said. "But we are going to continue to take an approach that tough, direct diplomacy has to be pursued without taking a whole host of other options off the table."
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Comment: Let us see now, Obama has been in office 90 days or so and says "We can't talk forever."-What "we " did he refer to? If he meant he is part of the "we" then you see the first "micro-wave" President and understand his arrogance. Pay attention world!