zaterdag 21 juni 2008

De dag dat vrede uitbrak in het Midden-Oosten...

De afgelopen dagen was er opeens nieuws van allerlei vredesinitiatieven, deals, en de bereidheid met vijanden te praten. Het staakt-het-vuren met Hamas, indirecte onderhandelingen tussen Israël en Syrië, een gevangenenuitruil met Hezbollah, en Israël stelde zelfs voor met Libanon vredesbesprekingen te voeren. De enige vredesonderhandelingen waarop geen vooruitgang wordt geboekt, zijn de vredesbesprekingen tussen Israël en de Palestijnse Autoriteit van Machmoud Abbas.
Vanwaar opeens al die initiatieven? Is het inzicht dat vrede beter is voor eenieder uiteindelijk doorgedrongen? Of zit er een meestercomplot van de Amerikanen of Zionisten achter? Wordt zo Iran effectief geisoleerd, door al haar bondgenoten met aantrekkelijke deals in het kamp van de 'good guys' te krijgen? Willen Bush en Olmert als grootse staatsmannen, en niet als mislukte politici, de geschiedenis ingaan? Of zit hier een sinister plan van de mullah's in Iran achter?
Ami Isseroff concludeert:

It is almost always better when people are negotiating rather than shooting. We all want peace, and as Benjamin Pogrund points out, it is good that people are talking about peace, but the nature of these negotiations warrants a good deal of caution. That is not just because the issues involved are complex, but because there is something very odd about the whole process: the pieces don't fit. The big losers so far are the moderate Palestinians in the West Bank and the moderate democratic regime of Fouad Seniora in Lebanon. The big winners are Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. The results of the process don't seem to be helping "good guys," but rather terror groups and rogue states whose commitment to peace is very dubious. Waging peace in the Middle East may be far more perilous than waging war.


The day Middle East Peace broke out


Last night I had the strangest dream, I never dreamed before;
I dreamed the world had all agreed, to put an end to war.

For all of us who are used to Middle East wars and war scares, bellicose statements and intractable conflicts, some of the recent headlines seem like a euphoric vision resulting from an exceptionally beneficent psychedelic drug. At least, they are very strange. Suddenly, it appears as though there is agreement and harmony on almost every front, between the most ferocious enemies. If it is all coming together, it is really wonderful, isn't it?

Consider some recent (last two days) headlines:

Paris says Assad will join Olmert at Med Union talks

Syrian official: Peace with Israel will create harmonious Mideast

Israel and Hamas 'call ceasefire'

Report: U.S. urges Israeli pullout from disputed Golan area

Israeli sources: Deal with Hezbollah likely next week

Israel says it's ready for Lebanon talks

One half expects to find, in the back pages, a feature article that describes lions and lambs living in peace at the zoo, and a little notice about a bearded fellow entering Jerusalem on a white donkey.

When we add to all the improbable peace deals above the Doha compromise in Lebanon, the effect is truly striking - especially as it all is taking place in a relatively brief period. Even more interesting, the hand of the USA is all but invisible in every instance except the case of Shebaa farms negotiations in Lebanon. Until now, the United States was the mainstay of every peace deal between Israel and its neighbors. It was needed to cajole Israel into concessions and to provide money as an incentive for peace deals.

The various deals are even stranger because they don't seem to be very good for Israel or Arab moderates at all. The Doha "compromise" put the Hezbollah a giant step closer to controlling Lebanon. The missing Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are dead in all probability. Exchanging them or their bodies for convicted murderer Samir Kuntar would hand the Hezbollah another big free victory and invite further kidnappings and loss of life. That can't be a good deal. The truce in Gaza legitimizes the Hamas, opening the way for European recognition of the Hamas government, isolating the West Bank government of Mahmoud Abbas and Salem Fayyad, and giving the Hamas a decisive advantage in any future unity talks. The truce doesn't hold for the West Bank. The moderate Palestinians of the West Bank Palestinian Authority get nothing except new housing starts for Israelis in East Jerusalem and the promise of continued security raids. The Hamas reap the benefits of their obstinacy and violence. Captive soldier Gilad Shalit may or may not be released in return for an enormous number of Palestinian prisoners. The deal was brokered by Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. Why would Egypt, which has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood Group at home, want to firmly establish the extremist Hamas next door?

Syria has proclaimed time and again that it will not give up its ties with Iran, and pointedly signed new agreements with the Iranian regime. Syria will not allow the IAEA to inspect suspect nuclear sites, leaving a compliant IAEA to report accurately, if misleadingly, that it could "find no evidence" of nuclear projects in Syria. If they could not examine the evidence, then of course they could not find any - the same situation as obtains in Iran. Syria also announced gleefully that they claim not only the Golan heights, but the Sea of Galilee up to Tiberias. Both Hamas and Syria are in relatively weak positions. It is not clear how they seem to manage to pull off negotiating bargains as though they are negotiating from positions of strength. Indeed, it is those bargains that are giving them, or will give them, strength.

Stranger yet, the various peace moves seemed to have no basis in any organic ongoing process. Syria and Israel have been trading insults and threats since 2006 and before. Israel bombed a mysterious (probably nuclear) facility in Syria - to which Syria reacted with a silence that itself spoke volumes. Hamas keeps raining rockets on Israel up to the last moment before the cease fire. A major terror attack was averted last week only because the would-be perpetrators blew themselves and three children to kingdom come by accident. Hamas promptly blamed Israel for the "attack" and launched a massive "retaliation" for the attack it invented, but even that didn't spoil the nice peace talks. Hezbollah continues to rearm in Lebanon, and shows no signs of being less threatening either to Israel or to Lebanese moderates.

It also seems more than a bit premature to talk of peace between Lebanon and Israel. The Lebanese cannot even agree to form a government despite the Doha agreement. It is absurd to think they can agree on a peace agreement with Israel. There is not really anyone to negotiate with at present.

Another oddity is that the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which has hitherto been the focus of peace efforts, remains becalmed, yet nobody seems to be particularly worried - that process has become a side issue. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was expected to apply massive pressure to the Israelis and (West Bank) Palestinians to hammer out a framework agreement. Instead she contented herself with some mild admonishment of Israel for continuing to build housing in the occupied territories, and a very oblique reference to the fact that Palestinians haven't really begun to fulfill their obligations under the road map either. She made the big headlines in Lebanon.

There has been speculation that the wave of peace or peace talk is preparation for a US or Israeli attack in Iran (see here and here for example). A more moderate view is that the deals are meant to weaken and isolate Iran. Indeed, Iran has remained impervious to threats of sanctions, refuses to stop its uranium enrichment program despite the enticements of an attractive European aide offer, and refuses to allow the IAEA access to critical nuclear sites. A day of reckoning might be approaching with Iran. But considering the Hezbollah and Hamas are virtual puppets of Iran, it is not clear how empowering them is going to weaken Iran. In the event of a hypothetical attack on Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas are now poised to rain rockets on Israel undeterred in retaliation. On the face of it, it seems unlikely that any Israeli-Syrian peace deal or Israeli-Lebanese peace deal could mature in the few remaining months of the Bush administration or the perhaps even briefer life expectancy of the Olmert government. It is hard to believe that the Americans would launch an attack on Iran in the waning days of the Bush administration. The Israeli government and defense establishment, decided against a military operation in Gaza against the ragtag Hamas because it is too risky and might result in Qassam rockets and mortars pounding Israeli towns for a long period. Is it credible that this same government would launch an attack on Iran, exposing Israel to massive rocket fire from Hezbollah, from Hamas and from Iran itself? The Olmert government can barely muster the majority needed to stay in office, and is very probably on the way out. Polls predict a victory for the right, headed by the Likud. Is it possible that this Olmert government could get the Israeli public to agree to a peace deal that surrenders the Golan heights in return for a dubious peace with the odious Assad regime?

If the aim of all this peace is to isolate some powers, who is being isolated? As Robert Dreyfuss points out, the Israeli deals with Hamas and Hezbollah drive a wedge in US policy, which has been to isolate these groups. US non-interference in Lebanon, acquiescence in the Doha compromise and its push to get Israel to give up Sheba farms, an issue invented by the Hezbollah, all play into the hands of the Hezbollah. They leave Lebanese moderates loyal to Prime Minister Seniora politically stranded. The French Mediterranean initiative will establish France as an important operator in the Middle East, independent of the US. Meanwhile, there is not the slightest sign that Hezbollah, Hamas or Syria are dissociating themselves from Iran or each other in any way.

Can this all be a super clever Machiavellian USA manipulation? Not likely. The US has proven time and again that it is incompetent in Middle East intelligence and diplomacy. The US can point to precious few achievements in the Middle East. The Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement was the product of President Sadat's initiative and matured behind the backs of the Americans before it was marketed to them. The same is true of Israel's peace with Jordan. For whatever it was worth, the Israeli-PLO deal was the product of separate and secret bilateral negotiations which were not sponsored by the United States.

The U.S. doesn't have the local knowledge or resources or "inside tracks" or the subtlety that are needed to gain success in the Middle East. In Iraq, it was apparently hoodwinked into an unnecessary and disastrous war by clever disinformation, robbed blind by its own and local bandits and mired in a nightmare terrorist war orchestrated by various extremist factions and states. In the Gulf, it spends billions to back regimes that finance Wahhabi extremists and Madrassahs that spawned the 9-11 suicide bombers. In Egypt, the US doles out $2 billion a year in military aid, while almost every page of the Egyptian press is filled with vituperation against America and its policies. In Lebanon, whatever policy the US thought it had seems to have failed miserably. It is hated everywhere in the Middle East except Israel for the unforgivable sins of promoting democracy, protecting friends and giving out money. It would be beyond the capabilities of the United States to orchestrate a "grand move" in the Middle East. If they think that is what they are doing, which is possible, they may be launched on the road to disaster.

Are all these improbable peace moves an unlikely coincidence? Are they preparation for an attack on Iran? Are they just the swan songs of an American and an Israeli regime that are both on the way out and anxious to leave their marks on history? Or are they perhaps, the product of clever manipulation by the able foreign service of the Iranian government, which has lured each player into believing it can isolate Iran by making tempting offers to its allies, giving up real advantages for imagined ones?

It is almost always better when people are negotiating rather than shooting. We all want peace, and as Benjamin Pogrund points out, it is good that people are talking about peace, but the nature of these negotiations warrants a good deal of caution. That is not just because the issues involved are complex, but because there is something very odd about the whole process: the pieces don't fit. The big losers so far are the moderate Palestinians in the West Bank and the moderate democratic regime of Fouad Seniora in Lebanon. The big winners are Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. The results of the process don't seem to be helping "good guys," but rather terror groups and rogue states whose commitment to peace is very dubious. Waging peace in the Middle East may be far more perilous than waging war.

Ami Isseroff

Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

Nieuws van de Arabische PR lobby

Pas op voor de Arabische lobby, die achter de schermen de touwtjes in handen heeft...
In de VS is al een omvangrijke Arabische olielobby actief, Aramco, die er stukken beter dan de zionistische lobby in slaagt om niet te veel in de schijnwerpers te staan en zelf geen onderwerp van gesprek of discussie te worden.
Common Arab media strategy planned
The Council of Arab Information Ministers called for the formation of a general commission for Arab Information, at a meeting here, Thursday, and discussed a common media strategy for the member countries.

Iyad Bin Ameen Madani, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, said in a statement after the meeting, the council stressed on the need of giving media support for the Arab issues. The council also decided to follow up on the activities of Joint Arab Information abroad, and to set up a mechanism to activate the principles of organizing satellite transmission in the Arab region.

The satellite transmission organizing principles document was endorsed on the basis of the domestic legislations of each Arab country, the minister said.

Haniyeh: 'Hamas kan en zal de wapensmokkel naar Gaza niet stoppen'

Duidelijke taal, en een legitieme reden om nog even te wachten met het openen van de grenzen.

Haniyeh: We can't - and won't - stop smuggling into Gaza


Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh denied on Friday that Hamas agreed to stop weapons-smuggling efforts on Gaza's border with Egypt, and claimed that it was incapable of such action.

Speaking to worshipers participating in Friday prayers, Haniyeh said: "We cannot stop the smuggling because it is beyond our ability as a government, and we made no commitments on the issue."


KAL's cartoon: How's the Truce Going?

KAL's cartoon
19 Juni 2008

From The Economist print edition - Illustration by Kevin Kallaugher

vrijdag 20 juni 2008

Palestijnen kunnen alles doen behalve raketten afvuren

Er is geen schriftelijke overeenkomst opgesteld voor het staakt-het-vuren met Hamas, wat veel ruimte voor interpretatie en speculatie open laat over hoe Israël (of Hamas) zal reageren op een overtreding van de afspraken. Het eerste punt van onenigheid is al of het staakt-het-vuren wel of niet gekoppeld is aan de vrijlating van Shalit.
Als er weer raketten op Israël worden afgevuurt, is duidelijk dat Israël militair zal reageren en het staakt-het-vuren feitelijk ten einde is. Maar volgens de overeenkomst mag Hamas ook geen raketonderdelen en explosieven meer invoeren of smokkelen naar de Gazastrook of raketten bouwen. Als Hamas dat toch doet, zal Israël dan reageren en hoe?, wil IMRA hieronder weten.
Mij lijkt duidelijk dat Israël dan een afweging maakt: militair reageren daarop zal niet snel gebeuren vanwege internationale kritiek, maar het gesloten houden of opnieuw sluiten van de grenzen lijkt mij dan een logische reaktie.

PM Spokesman Regev to IMRA: Palestinians can do everything but shoot

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 19 June, 2008

IMRA asked Mark Regev, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Foreign Press Adviser, the following question in English, on 19 June 2009 five hours after the "calm understanding" went into effect in the Gaza Strip:
Is the manufacture and assembly of rockets prohibited in the Gaza Strip during the calm period and if so is this an actionable violation - Israel has the right to act against such activity?

Mark Regev called back shortly later with the following statement:
The understanding with Egypt talks explicitly about the total cessation of hostile fire from Gaza into Israel and about an arms embargo on Hamas.
That's what the agreement explicitly relates to.

IMRA:  So they can run their rocket production and assembly lines inside the Gaza Strip without it being a violation of the agreement.

Regev:  Once again.  They cannot import any military equipment into Gaza for the production process.

IMRA:  Right.  But whatever they have at hand they can use to manufacture and assemble.

Regev:  They cannot shoot it.

IMRA:  They can't shoot it.  Very good.
Now they can also set up bunkers.  They can bring in bulldozers and equipment and set up bunkers lining the border with Israel and build tunnels as long as they don't go through them and as long as they don't shoot from them. Right?

Regev:   They cannot shoot at us.

IMRA:  They can't shoot but they can do everything else.

Regev:  That's what the agreement is about. You are correct.

IMRA:  Thank you very much.

Regev: Always a pleasure sir.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)

Enquetes: ruim 40% steunt staakt-het-vuren, 3/4 verwacht dat het niet lang stand houdt

Volgens een gisteren uitgevoerde enquete steunt 40% van de Israëli's het staakt-het-vuren met Hamas, en is eenderde ertegen. Een enquete van een week geleden geeft een lager aantal voorstanders. Dat kan komen omdat men daar de keuze van een alternatieve manier om een einde aan de raketbeschietingen te maken had gekregen, namelijk een militaire operatie, waarvan iets meer mensen voorstander zijn. Zoals altijd, zijn antwoorden in enquetes verschillend te interpreteren al naar gelang iemands eigen opvattingen.
A poll published June 12 by the "Hakol Diburim" radio program found that the Israeli public favored a military operation over a truce with Hamas. But examination of the June 12 poll may provide the light of understanding.
Do you today support signing a ceasefire agreement with Hamas or a large military operation in Gaza?
Total: Ceasefire 33% Operation 44% Other 23%
Kadima voters: Ceasefire 33% Operation 38% Other 29%
Likud voters: Ceasefire 17% Operation 81% Other 2%
Labor voters: Ceasefire 64% Operation 21% Other 15%
Als je de Likoed stemmers niet meetelt, is er een duidelijke voorkeur voor een staakt-het-vuren boven een militaire operatie, en in dat opzicht hebben Barak en Olmert dus een beslissing genomen die in de lijn ligt van hoe de aanhangers van hun partijen erover denken. Dat geldt eveneens voor onderstaande enquete.

Polls: 40.6%:32.9% support calm agreement with Hamas, 74.8% expect to last days
Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 19 June 2008

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 497 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Shvakim Panorama for Israel Radio's Hakol Diburim (It's All Talk) the afternoon and evening of 18 June 2008 after the announcement of the "calm" in the Gaza Strip.

If elections were held today how would you vote (expressed in mandates - based on the 81.2% who indicated what party they would vote for)?

Four scenarios:
[A] Kadima headed by Livni
[B] Kadima headed by Mofaz
[C] Kadima headed by Dichter
[D] Kadima headed by Shetreet

Actual Knesset today in [brackets]
22 18 09 08 [29] Kadima
14 17 19 19 [19] Labor
25 22 29 30 [12] Likud
11 11 11 11 [12] Shas
11 12 11 12 [11] Yisrael Beteinu
07 08 08 07 [09] Nat'l Union/NRP
06 06 06 06 [06] Yahadut Hatorah
06 07 07 07 [05] Meretz
04 05 06 06 [00] Green Party
03 03 03 03 [00] Social Justice (Gaydamak Party)
** ** ** ** [07] Retirees Party
11 11 11 11 [10] Arab parties
** does not get minimum votes for Knesset representation

Do you support or oppose the calm agreement with Hamas?
Total: Support 40.6% Oppose 32.9% No position 26.5%
Kadima voters: Support 38.1% Oppose 31.8% No position 30.1%
Likud voters: Support 22.3% Oppose 60.4% No position 17.3%
Labor voters: Support 69.2% Oppose 10.1% No position 20.7%

You think that the calm will continue for a short time (days) or a long time (months)?
Total: Short 74.8% Long 17.1% Don't know 8.1%
Kadima voters: Short 81.5% Long 5.3% DK 13.2%
Likud voters:: Short 91.4% Long 2.2% DK 6.4%
Labor voters: Short 59.6% Long 12.8% DK 27.6%
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)

Onderhandelingen over vrijlating Gilad Shalit volgende week hervat

De vrijlating van Shalit was een belangrijke motivatie voor Israël om met het staakt-het-vuren in te stemmen, en heeft ook meegespeeld in de beslissing van een militaire operatie voorlopig af te zien. Deze zou immers mogelijk zijn dood betekenen. Olmert heeft beloofd dat met het staakt-het-vuren ook Shalit zal vrijkomen, en zal dus bereid zijn daar een hoge prijs voor te betalen. De vader van Shalit heeft zelfs met een rechtszaak gedreigd omdat Israël met een staakt-het-vuren heeft ingestemd voordat er een deal is die de vrijlating van zijn zoon behelst. Ik vraag mij dan ook af of Hamas, in ruil voor opening van de Rafah grensovergang, zijn eisen wat betreft de vrij te laten gevangenen zal versoepelen zoals in onderstaand artikel wordt beweerd.

Overigens heb ik nergens anders gelezen dat specifiek overeengekomen was dat de onderhandelingen over een gevangenenruil 24 uur na het ingaan van het staakt-het-vuren van start zouden gaan, maar aangezien er geen schriftelijke verklaring of iets dergelijks is getekend kan iedereen wat er allemaal is gezegd naar eigen inzicht interpreteren.


Negotiations to release Gilad Shalit to resume next week

PM's Office official charged with heading efforts for kidnapped soldier's release to leave for Egypt next Tuesday for renewed talks. Palestinian sources say deal has chances of materializing by next month,7340,L-3557806,00.html
Roni Sofer
Latest Update:  06.19.08, 15:57

Ofer Dekel, the Prime Minister's Office emissary in charge of Israel's efforts on behalf of its missing and captive soldiers is scheduled to leave for Cairo next Tuesday in order to renew the negotiations for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

The meeting was scheduled after Head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau Amos Gilad, who was named pointman for the ceasefire negotiations between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza Strip, met with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, earlier this week.

"If it wasn't for the truce, any possible progress in Gilad's matter would have been postponed indefinitely. A wide scale military operation in Gaza could have irrevocably damaged any attempts to bring about his release," a senior diplomatic source told Ynet Thursday.

"The Israeli government will eventually have to pay a painful price – the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners," a security source told Ynet.

"We're talking about hundreds of prisoner with "blood on their hands"; some whose release has yet to be cleared by the committee headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon… the committee cleared 70 prisoners for release, but its' going to take many more," added the source.

Palestinian sources familiar with the negotiations told Ynet that the ceasefire agreement called for the negotiations on Shalit's release to be resumed 24 hours after the truce's onset. Since the "following day" falls on the weekend, Dekel will leave for Egypt next week. A Hamas delegation will leave for Egypt at the same time.

Both parties are said to remain in Cairo pending an agreement on Shalit's release.

According to Palestinian sources, Hamas is expected to elasticize its demands for prisoners' release in exchange for the opening of Rafah Crossing and the near overall lift of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The terms in the ceasefire allowing the Rafah crossing to be reopened have been almost completely finalized: EU and Palestinian Authority security forces stand to man the crossing, with Israel monitoring it via security cameras.

The sources said there was a "good chance" of a breakthrough in the talks, adding they believe Shalit's matter can be resolved within a month's time.

Gilad Shalit has been in Hamas' captivity for 725 days. 

Ali Waked contributed to this report

VS en Canada waarschuwen voor aanslag door Hezbollah

Hezbollah, steeds vaker afgeschilderd als legitieme Libanese verzetsbeweging, bereidt aanval voor op een synagoge of de Israelische ambassade.

"They want to kill as many people as they can, they want it to be a big splash," said former CIA intelligence officer Bob Baer, who told ABC he had met with Hezbollah leaders in Beirut last month.

Hezbollah activisten zijn al waargenomen terwijl ze bij de Israëlische ambassade en synagoges in Toronto hebben gesurveilleerd. Misschien wordt het tijd deze beweging, en de landen die haar steunen (Syrië en Iran) eens wat harder aan te pakken.

Zou GroenLinks oproepen tot actie/boycot/sancties tegen Hezbollah en Iran en een grote anti-Hezbollah demonstratie houden na een dergelijke aanslag, of blijft een dergelijke gehandeling gereserveerd voor Israël? Ik zou er niet teveel op rekenen, het is waarschijnlijk aantrekkelijker om gewoon weer Israël de schuld te geven.


Last update - 23:13 19/06/2008

Report: U.S., Canada warn Hezbollah set to strike Jewish targets

Intelligence agencies in Canada and the United States are warning of mounting signs that the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah is planning to attack Jewish targets in retaliation for the assassination of top Hezbollah man Imad Mughniyah some six months ago, ABC News reported Thursday.

Hezbollah has blamed Israel for the February 12 assassination in Damascus, but Israel has denied any involvement.

The intelligence sources told the American news network that Hezbollah was operating sleeper cells in Canada, and that senior Hezbollah operatives have left Lebanon for Canada as well as Europe and Africa.

According to the sources, ABC reported, there is currently no specific warning of an imminent attack, but they added that Hezbollah operatives have recently carried out surveillance of the Israeli embassy in the Canadian capital, as well as several synagogues in Toronto.

The sources added that Latin America was also a possible target for a Hezbollah strike.

Four suspected sleeper cells have been identified in Canada, ABC reported, and some 20 suspected Hezbollah operatives are currently under surveillance. The members of the cells have received orders to send their family members back to Lebanon.

The network also reported that a Hezbollah weapons expert was spotted at a firing range south of Toronto. According to the intelligence sources, the operatives' moves are being coordinated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

"They want to kill as many people as they can, they want it to be a big splash," said former CIA intelligence officer Bob Baer, who told ABC he had met with Hezbollah leaders in Beirut last month.

"Hezbollah would not carry out an attack in the west, or wherever this attack is going to occur, without approval from Tehran," Baer added.

Baer told ABC that his Hezbollah contacts told him an attack against the U.S. was unlikely because Iran and Hezbollah did not want to give the current administration, headed by U.S. President George W. Bush, an excuse to attack.

woensdag 18 juni 2008

Hamas cultuurminister maakt Condoleezza Rice zwart

Condoleezza Rice was tijdens haar afgelopen bezoek aan Israël en de Westoever ongemeen kritisch over het Israëlische besluit om huizen bij te bouwen in Oost-Jeruzalem, en deed alsof dat het enige obstakel was in de voortgang naar vrede. Het lijkt er echter op dat er nog een klein probleempje in Gaza zit, en dat is met een staakt-het-vuren niet opgelost, integendeel. Deze mensen zijn erger dan de huizenbouwers in Oost-Jeruzalem, bloeddorstiger en gevaarlijker. Misschien vindt Amerika het moeilijker dit probleem bij de naam te noemen omdat het het zelf heeft veroorzaakt, door aan te dringen op Hamas deelname aan de verkiezingen van 2006, al ging dat tegen de Oslo akkoorden ("geen racistische partijen") in.
June 18, 2008
No. 1964
Hamas Minister of Culture 'Atallah Abu Al-Subh: Condoleezza Rice Is a Black Scorpion with A Cobra's Head Who Has the Blood of Palestinian Children between Her Lips and on Her Fangs

Following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas Minister of Culture 'Atallah Abu Al-Subh, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on June 15, 2008.
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit: .

'Atallah Abu Al-Subh: "Assalam Alaykum and Allah's mercy and blessings upon you. In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. May Allah give us the strength to confront all the satans, and first and foremost, Condoleezza Rice, who has come to the region for the sixth time since the conspiracy of Annapolis – the lie most dangerous to the Palestinian people in recent months.
"With the arrival of that black scorpion with a cobra's head, Condoleezza, I began to worry that she would use her venomous fangs and hiss to kill this initiative and new spirit that we should protect.
"The arrival of Condoleezza Rice is not a good sign. An even worse sign is the meeting between the Palestinian leadership and the Zionist entity, in the presence of that scorpion-cobra. Condoleezza Rice, you are not welcome.
"Every proud Palestinian views you as a murderer, and sees the blood of the children of Palestine between your lips and on your fangs. I pray to Allah that you will soon slither away, along with your master who is more Zionist than the Zionists, that murderer and criminal, whose place in history is more advanced than that of Nero, Hulagu, Genghis Khan, Timor the Lame, Hitler, and Mussolini, and before them that of Nimrod – that criminal murderer, little Bush, who is striving to fan the flames in this region.
"Bush believes in the same idea as the Jews: The land from the Euphrates to the Nile is yours, oh Israel.
"We must be very wary of the rotten American policies in the region, which are represented by the scorpion-cobra Condoleezza.
"Rest assured that we will foil the Zionist-American enterprise, which is represented and implemented by the neocons, led by little Bush and the scorpion-cobra, Condoleezza Rice. May Allah curse her and her visit. She is not welcome."

50 Qassams en mortiergranaten treffen Negev aan vooravond staakt-het-vuren

Het Palestijnse antwoord op Israëls bevestiging van het komende staakt-het-vuren. Hamas wil het staakt-het-vuren vooral niet vanuit een positie van zwakte ingaan, maar er zijn ook aanwijzingen dat extremistische Palestijnse groeperingen proberen het staakt-het-vuren te verhinderen door een grote aanval op Israël uit te voeren. Zo zouden de terroristen van de aan Al Qaida gelinkte Doghmush clan die gisteren zijn gedood, een aanval op Israël aan het voorbereiden zijn.


Last update - 19:07 18/06/2008

50 Qassams, mortars hit Negev, as Israel, Hamas agree to truce
By Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondent
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired some 40 Qassam rockets and 10 mortar shells at the western Negev over the course of Wednesday, just hours after Israel and Hamas agreed to a temporary cease-fire deal.

Tensions remained high a day before the truce was to go into effect, with an especially high one-day total of fire from Gaza. No serious injuries
were reported.

One of the Qassams scored a direct hit on a house in the western Negev town on Sderot and several people were treated for shock.

Most of the rockets struck open fields in the western Negev, and one caused light damage to a nearby greenhouse.

Palestinian militants also opened fire on Israel Defense Forces troops operating near the Gaza-Israel border fence, but none were wounded.

Also on Wednesday, the Israel Air Force attacked two Qassam-launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip. There was no word yet of casualties, but the Israel Defense Forces identified hits in both incidents.

At least six Palestinian militants were killed on Tuesday in a series of Israel Air Force attacks on the Gaza Strip, just as Israel and Hamas were in the final stages of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal.

Among the dead was Muataz Durmush, the second in command of the militant organization Army of Islam. The other casualties were also apparently members of the group. Muataz' half brother Mumtaz is considered the commander of the Army of Islam, which was involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

Vrijlating Shalit volgens Olmert deel van overeenkomst met Hamas

Israël heeft het komende staakt-het-vuren officieel bevestigd, maar blijft met Hamas van mening verschillen over de vraag of de vrijlating van Shalit, in ruil voor een groot aantal Palestijnse gevangenen, nou wel of geen onderdeel is van de deal. Het blijft ook de vraag in hoeverre Egypte de wapensmokkel daadwerkelijk zal tegengaan, en hoe dat wordt gecontroleerd. Israëls controle (op afstand) van de grens tussen Gaza en Egypte zal geheel verdwijnen, en Hamas zal een prominente rol krijgen bij het bemannen van de Rafah grensovergang, met toezicht van Europese waarnemers. UNIFIL in Libanon neemt het ook niet zo nauw met het toezicht op de wapensmokkel naar Hezbollah, en de Europese waarnemers zullen niet zijn toegerust met de middelen in te grijpen als zij iets onoirbaars waarnemen: zij kunnen slechts 'waarnemen'.
Last update - 19:39 18/06/2008
Olmert: Shalit release is inseparable part of Gaza truce deal
By Amos Harel and Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondents and News Agencies
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday that the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was an inseparable part of the cease-fire deal reached with Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

Israel on Wednesday officially confirmed that the Egyptian-proposed cease-fire (tahadiyeh) would go into effect at 6 A.M. Thursday.

Speaking a few hours after the confirmation, Olmert stressed that he had not and would not negotiate directly with terrorist elements, and reiterated Israel's position that Shalit's release was inherent to the truce deal.
"We have no illusions. The calm is fragile and likely to be short-lived," Olmert said. "Hamas has not changed its skin. These are bloodthirsty and despicable terrorists who even today are doing all they can to harm Israeli civilians."

Olmert also said that Israel would "go forward in implementing this calm" but that its military was readying its response should Palestinian rocket attacks continue.

"Hamas is the address in Gaza, and it carries responsibility for everything that happens in Gaza," he added.

With regard to Shalit, Olmert said: "Gilad Shalit's release is inseparable from the understandings reached in the terms for calm. Each day, I make efforts to return him to his parents. I believe that as part of the understandings that enabled this calm, we will be able to advance his release."

Earlier, government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel planned to ease its months-long siege of the Gaza Strip so long as the truce deal was implemented as planned.

"If the fighting indeed ceases Thursday as planned, Israel will ease its blockade of Gaza next week," Regev said. At the same time, talks to release Shalit will intensify, Regev said.

Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants from his IDF post in cross-border raid in June 2006.

Peter Lerner, spokesman for Israel's military coordinator for the Gaza Strip, said the plan was to boost supplies to the territory starting next week by an initial 30 percent from the 60 truckloads a day now entering.

"Initially it will be foodstuffs and other basic commodities. That could be expanded later to construction materials," Lerner said.

A Palestinian trade official dismissed the planned increase as "nothing."

Egypt and Hamas, which controls the coastal strip, both announced Tuesday that a cease-fire would go into effect Thursday morning. But there was no official confirmation from Israel until Wednesday.

"Thursday will be the beginning, we hope, of a new reality where Israeli citizens in the south will no longer be on the receiving end of continuous rocket attacks," Regev said. "Israel is giving a serious chance to this Egyptian initiative and we want it to succeed."

However, alongside the Israeli confirmation came
15 Qassam rockets fired from Gaza, most of which struck open fields in the western Negev on Wednesday morning and another which scored a direct hit on a home in Sderot.

One rocket caused light damage to a nearby greenhouse. Palestinian militants also opened fire on Israel Defense Forces troops operating near the Gaza-Israel border fence, but none were wounded.

Jerusalem reportedly approved the cease-fire deal after Egyptian diplomats told Defense Ministry official Major General (res.) Amos Gilad, who was in Cairo Tuesday for talks, that Hamas had agreed to Israel's demands.

Army Radio reported that Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni all approved the deal.

Gilad emphasized Wednesday, however, that the truce does not constitute a peace deal.

"This is not a peace agreement. There is an understanding that is based on the effectiveness of military activities until now, and the will to stop it. At this point, we are exhausting the possibilities," Gilad told Israel Radio.

Senior Hamas officials, among them Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the deputy head of the organization's political bureau in Damascus, Mohammed Nazal, announced the timetable, confirmed by news agencies with officials in Cairo.

"Both sides have pledged to halt all hostilities and all military activities against each other," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in Cairo Tuesday.

Gilad met Tuesday with Egyptian intelligence chief General Omar Suleiman. The Hamas delegation from Gaza, who met with Suleiman at the beginning of the week, is still in Cairo; Egypt may be shuttling between the parties to conclude the deal. Gilad returned to Israel overnight with the final agreement and reported to Barak.

The cease-fire reportedly includes a pledge by the IDF not to engage in offensive action in the Gaza Strip, and a pledge by Hamas to prevent any attack from the Strip on Israel by its operatives or the other Palestinian groups. Smaller groups in the Strip who are not party to the agreement have hinted that they will not impede it.

Once there have been three days of calm, Israel has pledged to ease the economic siege of the Gaza Strip and allow a large shipment of raw materials and merchandise through the border crossings. A few days later the Egyptians have pledged to renew intensive talks in Cairo for the release of Shalit. The talks will be coordinated by Olmert's point man on prisoner negotiations, Ofer Dekel.

At the same time, Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin will evaluate whether the clause in the agreement to cut the smuggling of arms significantly has been kept. The smuggling goes via Sinai to the Strip. If Israel sees progress on these two fronts, it will remove its objection to the opening of the Rafa crossing.

No limit in West Bank

The agreement puts no limitations on IDF actions in the West Bank, and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday in the Knesset that the army would continue its operations in the West Bank. He added that Israel had to try the option of calm and at the same time prepare for a military operation.

Hamas leader Nazal told the Nazareth station Radio Ashams that Hamas' agreement not to include the West Bank was not a concession, and that "the West Bank is an inseparable part of Palestinian land," but that "it was important first of all to lift the siege on Gaza." He confirmed there were understandings to move ahead on talks on Shalit's release following the agreement and that this issue depended on Israel.

Defense sources in Israel said the cease-fire could hold for a few months. Sources also said that the day ahead was particularly sensitive and the IDF would be on high alert against attacks.

Vice Premier Haim Ramon said: "The tahadiyeh is recognition of Hamas and a very serious blow to the Palestinian Authority and its leaders, who will negotiate to establish a joint government with Hamas."

Speaking at the University of Haifa at a memorial ceremony for Nir Regev, killed in the terrorist attack at Haifa's Maxim restaurant, Ramon also said: "In the end there will be an operation, but it will extract a much higher price."

Ramon also said he opposed the cease-fire because he considered it "a victory for radical Islam."

Meshal: Any Israeli violation of the deal would not go unanswered

On Tuesday, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said the truce commits Israel to ending its crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip but any Israeli violation of the deal would not go unanswered.

"If you go back, we go back. The resistance factions are not in a weak position, they are in a strong position... We are a people with a cause and we will not be broken by aggression or invasion," Meshal told Reuters during a visit to the United Arab Emirates.

"We will deal with the position on the ground as necessary."

Damascus-based Meshal said that the truce deal made no mention of Shalit or opening the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

Israel had said Rafah would not reopen unless there was progress on Shalit's release.

"The enemy merge the issue of Gilad Shalit with the truce. We rejected this and in the final Egyptian offer the two issues are not linked," he said.

Meshal added: "The Gilad Shalit issue is linked to an exchange deal ... whereas the truce involves a bilateral ceasefire, lifting the blockade and opening the crossings."

Politie arresteert 2 kolonisten op verdenking van aanval op Palestijnen

Hopelijk krijgt de politie de anderen snel te pakken. Te vaak gaan de daders van dergelijke mishandelingen vrijuit omdat de zaak niet wordt uitgezocht of bewijs ontbreekt. Dankzij de cameraopnamen was er nu overtuigend bewijs waar de politie mee aan de slag kon. Het is echter een beetje vreemd dat de politie de hulp van Palestijnse cameraopnamen nodig heeft om de daders te pakken te krijgen; wanneer het geweld tegen Israëli's betreft is men doorgaans heel wel in staat te achterhalen wie het hebben gedaan.
Police arrest 2 settlers on suspicion of assaulting Palestinians

Police follow up on footage of Palestinian shepherds allegedly attacked by settlers, arrest two men from Susya

Efrat Weiss

Published:  06.17.08, 11:15

Two settlers from the West Bank settlement of Susya were arrested Tuesday, in connection with the attack reported by Palestinian shepherds, which took place near the Mouth Hebron, last week.


The two men, one of whom is a minor, were arrested after a covert operation by the Judea and Samaria and Hebron Districts Police. They were taken in for questioning in the Hebron Districts Police headquarters. Police sources told Ynet additional arrests are expected.  


Caught on Tape
Video shows masked men attacking Palestinian shepherds / Ali Waked
(Video) Footage obtained by B'Tselem shows Sunday's assault on four members of Palestinian family near Hebron
Full story

According to the police report, Four members of a Palestinian -Nawage family claimed they were assaulted by veiled settlers whilethey were herding their sheep in the south Mount Hebron area, seriously wounding one woman. The family further claimed they had footage of the assault.


The footage was later obtained and published by the B'Tselem organization.


Another assault was reported Monday, as Palestinian shepherds complained that settlers attacked them near the west Bank settlement of Yitzhar.



The Yitzhar community denied the allegations, stating: "Our investigation shows no evidence of any resident or youth involved in such an incident."

Analyse: staakt-het-vuren gunstig voor Hamas

Het staakt-het-vuren komt Hamas in meerdere opzichten ten goede. Hamas geldt als de overwinnaar die het is gelukt met het machtige Israël tot een gelijkwaardig vergelijk te komen en de blokkade van Gaza op te heffen. Een aantal van Israëls voorwaarden zijn niet, of in verwaterde vorm, overgenomen in de officiële overeenkomst. Hamas wint er Arabische en internationale erkenning mee, en staat bovendien sterker in de besprekingen met Abbas voor een nieuwe eenheidsregering. Bovendien is afgesproken dat als het staakt-het-vuren een half jaar houdt, het wordt uitgebreid naar de Westelijke Jordaanoever. Maar last but not least, kan Hamas zich de komende maanden ongestoord wijden aan de verdere opbouw van haar troepen, het graven van bunkers en tunnels, het recruteren van mensen, en de smokkel van wapens via een heropende grensovergang met Egypte.

ANALYSIS / Cease-fire deal means Hamas is in charge
By Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 07:23 18/06/2008

The main points of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas grant the Islamic organization a political and diplomatic achievement that will also give it a lever in its reconciliation talks with Fatah, which are slated to begin at the end of this week.

According to the Egyptian-mediated proposal, Israel will no longer be able to monitor the Rafah crossing, on the Gaza-Egypt border, once it reopens, and a deal to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit will be discussed separately from the truce, as Hamas wanted.

Israel will receive quiet in the south, along with an Egyptian pledge to monitor the border closely, but Hamas will be the main party in control of the Rafah crossing. Palestinian Authority officials and European observers will be present, but both will have limited authority.

Moreover, the truce gives Hamas, rather than PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the power to force a cease-fire in the West Bank: If quiet is maintained in the south, Israel will have to extend the truce to the West Bank in another six months.

In theory, the reopening of Rafah depends on progress in the Shalit deal. But Egyptian officials insisted yesterday that Rafah's opening is independent of the Shalit swap, and neither is conditional upon the other, since freeing Shalit involves an additional element: Israel's agreement to release a large number of Palestinian prisoners. Thus here, too, Israel will not be able to point to any achievement.

Hamas has an interest in the cease-fire, and not just in order to end Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Later this week, Abbas is expected to make his first visit to Gaza since Hamas seized control of the Strip last year, in an effort to negotiate a reconciliation between his Fatah party and Hamas. He announced this initiative about two weeks ago, and it is being supported by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab
Emirates. But now, Abbas will find himself facing a politically strengthened Hamas, one that has seemingly forced Israel to cave in.

The road to a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation remains long, especially in light of Abbas' demand that Hamas restore the situation in Gaza to what it was before June 14, 2007. But if the process succeeds, it is likely to end in new presidential and parliamentary elections, and Hamas would like to enter those races with maximum political capital. This capital would increase if, at the end of the cease-fire's six-month trial period, Hamas is able to force Israel to declare a truce in the West Bank as well. It would thereby have demonstrated effective security control over both parts of Palestine.

To do this, Hamas will need to tighten its control over smaller Palestinian factions, which are liable to threaten its claim to exclusive control over the use of force. But so far, these organizations have supported Hamas in its cease-fire bid. Thus Hamas has also succeeded in using the truce to create an internal political front - and even more importantly, to gain the Arab world's recognition of its status.

Staakt het vuren vanaf donderdagochtend

Het late journaal maakte gisteren de overeenkomst over het staakt-het-vuren al bekend, maar Israël heeft deze officieel pas vandaag bevestigd. Het valt te hopen dat met het opheffen van de blokkade van Gaza en met name de opening van de grensovergang met Egypte de wapensmokkel niet zal toenemen. Opvallend was overigens dat in het nieuws in het geheel geen melding werd gemaakt van de vele aanvallen door Hamas op de grensovergangen (hun sluiting door Israël was slechts gericht op het straffen van Hamas), de aanslagen die geregeld worden verijdeld en de explosie van een huis vol bommen waar Hamas Israël de schuld van gaf, terwijl men nota bene de laatste voorbereidingen trof voor een 'quality attack'.

Last update - 21:56 18/06/2008

Olmert: Gaza cease-fire is fragile, may be short lived
By Amos Harel and Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondents and News Agencies

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday said that Israel would do its part to implement a cease-fire deal in the Gaza Strip, but warned that the truce was "fragile and likely to be short-lived."

Olmert spoke hours after Israel confirmed that it had agreed to an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire (tahadiyeh), to go into effect at 6 A.M. Thursday.

The prime minister said that Israel would "go forward in implementing this calm" but that its military was readying its response should Palestinian rocket attacks continue.

Olmert stressed that he had not and would not negotiate directly with terrorist elements, and reiterated Israel's position that Shalit's release was inherent to the truce deal.

"We have no illusions. The calm is fragile and likely to be short-lived," Olmert said. "Hamas has not changed its skin. These are bloodthirsty and despicable terrorists who even today are doing all they can to harm Israeli civilians."

"Hamas is the address in Gaza, and it carries responsibility for everything that happens in Gaza," he added.

In luchtaanval IAF terroristen van Leger van Islam gedood

Volgens het laatste nieuws zou er nu eindelijk een bestand zijn overeengekomen. De Volkskrant vermeldt daarbij - bij monde van Alex Burghoorn - "Bij drie Israëlische luchtaanvallen zijn dinsdag nog 7 doden gevallen". Hieronder wordt uitgelegd wat voor doden dat waren.

June 17th, 2008


Terrorists Belonging to Army of Islam, the Organization Involved in Shalit and Johnston Kidnappings, Killed in Aerial Attacks

As part of a joint IDF and ISA operation today, aerial attacks were carried out in which the IDF identified hitting Army of Islam terrorists involved in recent attempts to execute a large-scale terror attack against Israeli targets.

Among the terrorists killed were Ma'ataz Dagmesh, 29, resident of Gaza, Mahmud Shandi, 25, resident of Al-Hawa and Muhamad Asaliya, 21, resident of the Jabaliya R.C - three senior terrorists within the organization.
Dagmesh, whose brother is the organization leader in the Gaza Strip, was the leader and planner of the thwarted terror attack. Asaliya served as the organization's senior terror attacks planner.

The Army of Islam is an extreme Islamist organization that represents Al-Qaeda in the Gaza Strip, and preaches worldwide Jihad. The organization was involved in numerous attacks against Israel, including:

·        The abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit in a joint attack with Hamas on Kerem Shalom Crossing, June 25th, 2006, killing two other soldiers.
·        The abduction of British reporter Alan Johnston, who was incarcerated for 4 months, released only on July 4th, 2007.
·        A joint attack with Hamas in December 2005 in which 5 Israeli civilians were killed.
·        In February 2006, the organization attempted to carry out a car bomb attack on the Karni crossing.
In late September 2007, the organization was planning a marine based terror-attack. The attack was thwarted when several of the terrorists were killed.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

IDF verwijdert wegversperringen als 'beloning'

Een goed voorbeeld van hoe samenwerking met Israël de Palestijnen zelf ten goede komt. Door het verwijderen van roadblocks bij dorpen afhankelijk te maken van Palestijnse actie tegen geweldplegers uit die dorpen tegen Israëli's, is het in hun eigen belang actie te ondernemen, wat ook gebeurde.
Dit werkt wellicht beter dan wanneer Israël onder Amerikaanse druk checkpoints verwijdert, en de Palestijnen vervolgens (onder Amerikaanse druk) beloven wat aan het terrorisme te doen.

Army to remove roadblocks as 'reward'
Jun. 17, 2008
The Civil Administration in the West Bank has negotiated a deal with a number of Palestinian villages in the Kalkilya region in which dirt roadblocks cutting off their access to nearby cities and roads would be lifted in exchange for the cessation of local terror activity, a senior IDF commander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

The deal so far includes the villages of Azun and Marda, both - until recently - hotbeds of Palestinian terror activity. The ongoing negotiations will mainly involve the areas along Highway 5, which connects Tel Aviv with the settlement of Ariel, and Road 55, which runs from Kfar Saba to Nablus.

Over the past year, residents of Azun and Marda have been responsible for over 25 monthly attacks along the two roads involving stone throwing and Molotov cocktails. In November, 29-year-old Ido Zoldan was gunned down on Road 55 near the Palestinian village of al-Punduk. A few months ago, an IDF soldier was wounded when he was shot by terrorists as he stood at a hitchhiking post on Highway 5 outside Ariel.

IDF troops regularly raided the villages and while they succeeded in minimizing attacks, it came at the cost of disrupting the lives of the 15,000 people living there.
"Each time the troops entered the villages, shops would close down and schools would be disrupted," said Lt.-Col. Samir Amar, commander of the IDF's Coordination and Liaison Administration in the Kalkilya region.

Amar met with the elders in the villages and convinced them it was in their interest to crack down on the youths behind the attacks. The IDF also decided to permit the deployment of some 20 armed Palestinian Authority policemen inside the villages to prevent additional attacks.

"We told them that if they stopped the attacks we would ease restrictions on the villages," Amar said Tuesday from outside the village of Azun, located on Road 55. "Since then, there has not been a single incident in the past month and a half."

Following the crackdown in the village, the IDF removed three dirt roadblocks allowing villages to reach Kalkilya within 10 minutes, as opposed to the 45 minutes it took before.

De vergeten vluchtelingen van Israël

Zijn er meer verschillen of meer overeenkomsten tussen de Joodse en de Palestijnse vluchtelingen?
De groepen zijn van vergelijkbare omvang. Beiden vluchtten voor een deel zelf en werden voor een deel met dwang het land uitgezet dat hun thuis was geweest. Van beide groepen wordt door propagandisten van de tegenpartij vaak ontkend dat ze verdreven werden of gesteld dat ze door hun eigen 'volksgenoten' werden aangespoord hun land te verlaten. De Joodse vluchtelingen uit de Arabische wereld worden echter vooral genegeerd door de buitenwereld. Dat gaat bij hen wat makkelijker, omdat Israël en andere - vooral Westerse - landen hen de kans boden een nieuwe toekomst op te bouwen, terwijl de Palestijnse vluchtelingen van hun Arabische 'gastheren' al 60 jaar mogen wegkwijnen in hun UNRWA-kampen.
De Palestijnse vluchtelingen leken lange tijd een vergeten groep te worden, maar de Joodse vluchtelingen zijn daadwerkelijk vergeten. Als ze al ter sprake komen, wordt vaak slordig met de feiten omgesprongen. Zelfs Ynet schrijft hieronder: "about 850,000 Jews left Arab countries in 1948". Dat klopt uiteraard niet. De vlucht van de Joden uit de Arabische wereld vond plaats over een periode van enkele decennia. Veel Arabische landen hanteerden zelfs een emigratieverbod voor Joden, zodat zij met en met het land uitgesmokkeld moesten worden. Becijferd is dat zij samen grondbezit moesten achterlaten dat 4x de omvang van Israël is.

The forgotten refugees
Jewish refugees from Arab states just as important as Palestinian refugees
Uzi Arad
Ynet - Published: 06.08.08, 22:04
As Israel and the Palestinians negotiate the principles of a final-status agreement, while looking into mechanisms that would resolve the Palestinian refugee problem, it is important to call their attention to the refugees who have been ignored – the Jews who left Arab countries just before and just after 1948.
While the Palestinian refugee problem has been granted preferential treatment compared to any other refugees, it appears that the question of Jewish refugees has been forgotten. The issue has been dealt with mainly by NGOs such as the Justice for Jews of Arab Countries (JJAC) and Jewish leaders such as Irwin Cotler.
According to JJAC figures, about 850,000 Jews left Arab countries in 1948 – slightly more than the estimated number of Palestinians who left the Land of Israel. It is noteworthy that Jewish communities existed in Arab countries for hundreds of years, including some that preceded the Muslim occupation, following which the Jews along with the Christians were considered "second class citizens."
In the 20th Century, the civil rights of Jewish communities were curbed. The Jews were subjected to confiscation of property, discrimination, pogroms, abuse on the part of authorities, and at times even executions. As a result, more than a million Jews left Arab countries since Israel's establishment. According to estimates, only about 5,000 Jews remain in Arab countries today.
The Palestinian refugee problem has enjoyed great international attention: Out of 681 UN resolutions pertaining to the Middle Eastern conflict, about 101 pertain to Palestinian refugees, and immense international funds were invested in supporting them. At the same time, even though the question of Jews who left Arab countries was granted legal and political status (on two opportunities, the UN High Commission for Refugees confirmed that Jews who left Arab states following 1948 are refugees who deserve UN assistance) the issue was not promoted in practice.
Principle of reciprocity
Jewish refugees received indirect formal expression in agreements and treaties where the issue of refugees is expressed using language that implies parallelism, without explicitly noting whether a refugee is Palestinian or Jewish. This is how the issue was worded in Resolution 242, in the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, in the Oslo Accords, and in the understandings of the Madrid Conference.
Until today, Israeli government elements have not given operative weight to the issue. Indeed, in the framework of the Netanyahu government's preparations for final-status talks, the principles of parallelism and reciprocity were drafted in a manner that would condition progress on the Palestinian refugee issue on parallel progress with respect to Jewish refugees.
President Clinton accepted this outline and it appeared that the Barak government was willing to adopt it, yet according to testaments by JJAC members and others, the last two governments neglected the issue and refrained from placing it on the operative agenda.
Now, in order to close the gap, it is essential to act on two fronts: Firstly, on the legal-principled level – entrench the issue as a permanent element in any framework and agreement, in a similar manner to the way this is done with Palestinian refugees. Secondly, on the practical level – apply the principal of reciprocity, according to which there will be no progress on the issue of Palestinian refugees without progress on the issue of Jewish refugees.
Only such condition would grant the issue the leverage needed to place it on the agenda and to stimulate it. This explains the significance of legislation adopted in April by the US Congress – which obligates the Administration – according to which any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees must be accompanied by a similar explicit reference to the Jewish refugees.
It would be appropriate for the Israeli Knesset not to trail behind the US Congress and pose a similar demand. However, the issue obliges the Israeli government even more so, and it must not leave it up to organizations and Jewish leaders in the Diaspora.

Dr. Mamoun Fandy over de fouten van Palestijnen en Arabieren

MEMRI vertaalt niet alleen radikale Arabische teksten, waarin Israël en de Joden van de meest verschrikkelijke misdaden en complotten worden beschuldigd, maar ook kritiek door liberale Arabieren.
June 8, 2008    No. 1952
Arab Liberal Dr. Mamoun Fandy: The Palestinians Have Chosen the Model Of Tora Bora Over That of Singapore

In an article published April 21, 2008 in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, well-known researcher, writer, author, and columnist Dr. Mamoun Fandy wrote that the Palestinians must proceed from revolution to state-building, demonstrating that they are capable of building a prosperous state which will contribute to the stability of the region. [1]

The following are excerpts from the article:

"When Will the Palestinians Advance From the 'Adolescence' of Revolution to the 'Maturity' of Statehood?... [Will the] Palestinian State... Strengthen, Rather Than Weaken, Regional Security?"

"Sixty years have passed since the Palestinian Nakba [catastrophe]… and I would like to pose two questions to the divided Palestinian leadership, [i.e.] to the Palestinian Authority, represented by President Mahmoud 'Abbas, and to the Hamas leadership, represented by Ismail Haniyya and Khaled Mash'al.

"The first question is: When will the Palestinians advance from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of statehood? The second question is: Given that there is an intent to establish a Palestinian state in the region, can the Palestinians assure the international community, and in particular their neighbors, that the Palestinian state will strengthen, rather than weaken, regional security?...

"The object of the first question is to give the international community an idea to what extent the Palestinians are capable of managing their affairs independently; to what extent the Palestinian leadership is committed to its people, their aspirations and demands; and whether, like most governments around the world, it can ensure that its people live in dignity.

"Gaza Is a Seaport of Diminutive Proportions, Akin to Singapore Or Bahrain... Yet the Palestinians Have Chosen the Model of Tora Bora!"

Today, the international community has great doubts regarding the Palestinians' ability to advance from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of state. The most clear-cut example of this is Gaza, which has presented a complicated and steadily growing problem. I am not speaking of the Hamas's coup or even of the futile killing, but only of the appalling mismanagement of its affairs.

"Gaza is a seaport of diminutive proportions, akin to Singapore or Bahrain. Small though it is, Singapore has become one of the most important [states] in Asia - owing to a wise government, which runs its affairs with perspicacity. Similarly, Bahrain has ties and alliances with the most prominent world powers…

"Yet, instead of adopting Singapore as a model, the Palestinians have chosen the model of Tora Bora! They have transformed Gaza into part of Afghanistan, with its extremist Islamists, weapons, and missiles.

"The main reason that the Palestinian leadership in Gaza has failed is that it is still in the 'adolescent' revolutionary stage, and is not acting as someone faced with the task of [establishing] a state capable of managing its people's affairs. It is this adolescence [of revolution] that accounts for [Hamas's] attempt to breach the Egyptian border and drives it to fire rockets [at Israel] every now and then. [And] it is the ordinary people who are paying the price - [i.e.] Gaza residents, who are fed up with the siege and with hunger.

"Israel should be condemned for imposing a siege on Gaza. [To be sure,] no one thinks of absolving Israel of responsibility. But considering that Israel has a well-equipped army - did Hamas really anticipate that Israel would send it flowers in return for rockets?

"Egypt must be condemned for closing its borders, as is the custom of all other countries. However, Hamas leadership expects to avoid all condemnation; the important thing [in their eyes] is that Ismail Haniyya remain the leader in Gaza, even if all its residents are exterminated…"

In the Arab World, "Human Life is Not Important; What Counts Is That the Leaders Survive"

"As long as Haniyya is in charge - Gaza is on a winning streak. [Indeed,] presenting defeat as victory is not unique to the Palestinians. In this way, the June 1967 fiasco was not conceived of as defeat, since Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser remained president [of Egypt] after the war; Saddam [Hussein's] setbacks were not regarded as defeat either, since Saddam remained president of Iraq; nor was Lebanon's downfall regarded as defeat - [despite] the complete destruction of its infrastructure - since Hassan Nasrallah continued as leader of the uprising. [It seems that] human life is not important; what counts is that the leaders survive.

"The second question is whether the new Palestinian state is capable of strengthening regional security or whether it will become a source of threat and disrupt the security equilibrium. This is another criterion for assessing the Palestinian leadership's ability to assure its Arab and non-Arab neighbors that the new state will be the basis for reconstruction rather than destruction, stability rather than [disruption], economic welfare rather than poverty.

"One could say that, from 1996 until the beginning of the 2000 intifada, the PA had begun acting as a state, although it did make a few mistakes. Those in Fatah who made the revolutionary step of moving towards the 'maturity' of the Palestinian Authority have made an important qualitative leap, which history will count in their favor. [Indeed,] they initiated the PA into the rites of maturity, and took part in the negotiations in Oslo, Washington, Taba etc."

In 2000, "Instead Of Declaring A State, [The Palestinian Leadership] Decided to Declare A Revolution... the Palestinian Security Apparatuses Joined the Resistance as Factions... [Thus]... Relinquish[ing] Their Role in Building the State [And] Undermining the Trust of the International Community"

"The Palestinian leadership committed a major error in the beginning of 2000, when it refused to accept the outcome of the negotiations with U.S. President Bill Clinton, who nearly gave them a state in return for certain concessions. At the time, the Palestinian leadership refused to agree to these concessions out of fear that, otherwise, it might find itself up against the [Palestinian] people.

"Instead of declaring a state, it decided to declare a revolution. The Palestinian security apparatuses joined the resistance as factions - in other words, they reverted to the 'adolescence' of revolution. By joining the resistance, the security apparatuses relinquished their role in building the state, thereby undermining the trust of the international community, and the trust of its patron countries. Never again would the Egyptians, Americans, Europeans, and Israelis believe that the Palestinian leadership was truly capable of advancing from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of state…

"The only solution left to the Palestinians, including Hamas, is to rebuild their institutions in accordance with the maturity of state rather than with the adolescence of revolution, thereby contributing to the stability of the region, rather than to its destruction.

"This is [how they should proceed]:

"First - [they must] search for new leaders, who are trusted both inside and outside the country, and in doing so they must apply as criteria, not the ideology of revolution, but that of statehood. [Moreover,] Hamas must come to terms with the fact that it is a political party, and act accordingly. [So far] Hamas's radical conduct has indicated that it is incapable of acting as a party - rather, it has been behaving like a militia...

"Fatah [C]ould Be Like the U.S. Democrats, and Hamas Like the Republicans; Alternatively, Fatah and Hamas [C]ould Be Like the Conservatives and Labor in Great Britain"

"If Hamas is incapable of acting maturely, as befits a [ruling] political party, the Palestinian political process could be modeled after the veteran democracies. Thus, Fatah would be like the U.S. Democrats, and Hamas like the Republicans; alternatively, Fatah and Hamas would be like the Conservatives and Labor in Great Britain. Furthermore, the Palestinians should hold new elections in order to form a new leadership. These elections must be free and unhampered by fear - since freedom of choice is the foundation of a free society.

"If the Palestinians cannot elect new leaders who can demonstrate to the international community that they believe in the maturity of state rather than in the adolescence of revolution, and, moreover, [that they believe] in a Palestinian state that can strengthen the stability of the region instead of contributing to its decline and destruction… if the Palestinians cannot rise up to this great challenge, we may be facing another 60 years of Nakba."

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 21, 2008.


Mensen versus dinosaurussen: de toekomst van Israël (en Iran)

Een optimistisch artikel, vanuit economisch perspectief.

June 8, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

People vs. Dinosaurs


Tefen Industrial Park, Israel


Question: What do America's premier investor, Warren Buffett, and Iran's toxic president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have in common? Answer: They've both made a bet about Israel's future.

Ahmadinejad declared on Monday that Israel "has reached its final phase and will soon be wiped out from the geographic scene."

By coincidence, I heard the Iranian leader's statement on Israel Radio just as I was leaving the headquarters of Iscar, Israel's famous precision tool company, headquartered in the Western Galilee, near the Lebanon border. Iscar is known for many things, most of all for being the first enterprise that Buffett bought overseas for his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett paid $4 billion for 80 percent of Iscar and the deal just happened to close a few days before Hezbollah, a key part of Iran's holding company, attacked Israel in July 2006, triggering a monthlong war. I asked Iscar's chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, what was Buffett's reaction when he found out that he had just paid $4 billion for an Israeli company and a few days later Hezbollah rockets were landing outside its parking lot.

Buffett just brushed it off with a wave, recalled Wertheimer: "He said, 'I'm not interested in the next quarter. I'm interested in the next 20 years.' " Wertheimer repaid that confidence by telling half his employees to stay home during the war and using the other half to keep the factory from not missing a day of work and setting a production record for the month. It helps when many of your "employees" are robots that move around the buildings, beeping humans out of the way.

So who would you put your money on? Buffett or Ahmadinejad? I'd short Ahmadinejad and go long Warren Buffett.

Why? From outside, Israel looks as if it's in turmoil, largely because the entire political leadership seems to be under investigation. But Israel is a weak state with a strong civil society. The economy is exploding from the bottom up. Israel's currency, the shekel, has appreciated nearly 30 percent against the dollar since the start of 2007.

The reason? Israel is a country that is hard-wired to compete in a flat world. It has a population drawn from 100 different countries, speaking 100 different languages, with a business culture that strongly encourages individual imagination and adaptation and where being a nonconformist is the norm. While you were sleeping, Israel has gone from oranges to software, or as they say around here, from Jaffa to Java.

The day I visited the Iscar campus, one of its theaters was filled with industrialists from the Czech Republic, who were getting a lecture - in Czech - from Iscar experts. The Czechs came all the way to the Israel-Lebanon border region to learn about the latest innovations in precision tool-making. Wertheimer is famous for staying close to his customers and the latest technologies. "If you sleep on the floor," he likes to say, "you never have to worry about falling out of bed."

That kind of hunger explains why, in the first quarter of 2008, the top four economies after America in attracting venture capital for start-ups were: Europe $1.53 billion, China $719 million, Israel $572 million and India $99 million, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Israel, with 7 million people, attracted almost as much as China, with 1.3 billion.

Boaz Golany, who heads engineering at the Technion, Israel's M.I.T., told me: "In the last eight months, we have had delegations from I.B.M., General Motors, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart visiting our campus. They are all looking to develop R & D centers in Israel."

Ahmadinejad professes not to care about such things. He was - to put it in American baseball terms - born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. Because oil prices have gone up to nearly $140 a barrel, he feels relaxed predicting that Israel will disappear, while Iran maintains a welfare state - with more than 10 percent unemployment.

Iran has invented nothing of importance since the Islamic Revolution, which is a shame. Historically, Iranians have been a dynamic and inventive people - one only need look at the richness of Persian civilization to see that. But the Islamic regime there today does not trust its people and will not empower them as individuals.

Of course, oil wealth can buy all the software and nuclear technology you want, or can't develop yourself. This is not an argument that we shouldn't worry about Iran. Ahmadinejad should, though.

Iran's economic and military clout today is largely dependent on extracting oil from the ground. Israel's economic and military power today is entirely dependent on extracting intelligence from its people. Israel's economic power is endlessly renewable. Iran's is a dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs.

So who will be here in 20 years? I'm with Buffett: I'll bet on the people who bet on their people - not the people who bet on dead dinosaurs.