donderdag 30 april 2009

Barak wil binnen 3 jaar vredesakkoord met Palestijnen

De Nederlandse regering "spreekt met één mond". - De Israëlische regering spreekt met zoveel monden als er ministers zijn. Hopelijk krijgen ze wel alle neuzen dezelfde kant op, liefst in de richting van Baraks neus. En dan is er nog het puntje van de Palestijnse neuzen...

Last update - 08:19 28/04/2009       
Barak: Israel can and must make peace within three years
By Gidi Weitz
"I am certain it is possible and certainly necessary to act with all our might to achieve peace even before I turn 70, which will be in three years," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak in his first extensive interview since joining the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"You have to understand that in their consciousness, the leaders are not so far apart in terms of what the final settlement will look like," Barak said, adding that he believes Netanyahu will present the U.S. administration a diplomatic plan in line with the principle of "two states for two nations" during his upcoming visit to Washington.
"Bibi [Netanyahu] accepted the Oslo accords at the time. And it is clear that when a political settlement is signed with all the neighbors, it will stipulate a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, with the two living side by side. I believe that even now, during Netanyahu's visit to Washington, Israel should come up with a formula about how it intends to move ahead, and that formula will not propose three states for eight nations," he said.
"Bibi has a hard choice to make: Does he want to be [Yitzhak] Shamir or [Menachem] Begin?" he asked. "There is deep understanding between us on the need to address the political issue, and that it is impossible to leave things in a state of paralysis. If we sink into paralysis, we may find the world losing interest in Israel and in this conflict - or, in an even worse scenario, acceptance by the world that the solution is not two states for two nations, but one state for two nations, which for us is a concrete risk, a slippery slope."
On Iran's nuclear program, Barak struck a blustery yet pragmatic tone. "There is no one who will dare try to destroy Israel. We are not in a position of being able to tell the Americans whether to talk to the Iranians. I told American leaders: First learn from the professionals about what is going on in Iran, what they are doing behind the smoke screen, acquaint yourselves with the intelligence material, and from this you will understand they are working determinedly to deceive, confuse and blur things, and that under the headline of 'nuclear power for peaceful purposes,' they are trying to achieve military nuclear capability.
"I told them negotiations should be short and have a deadline, accompanied by 'soft' sanctions such as limitations on money transfers, while preparing the ground for harsh sanctions that involve authorizing action afterward. This has to be done in deep cooperation with the Russians and the Chinese, and we say we are not removing any option from the table. We have a tendency to hope for a heroic operation that will end everything, as with the bombing of the Iraqi reactor in 1981. Is that realistic?
"There is no comparison," he said. "In the Iraqi case there was one target that existed and was working, and a surgical strike eliminated it. We thought we were delaying the project for three to four years, whereas in practice it was delayed forever. Here we are up against something far more complex, sophisticated and extensive."
"The Iranians don't play backgammon, they play chess, and in fact they invented the game. They are proceeding with far greater sophistication and are far more methodical. The Iranian nation is a collection of people held together by an identity that includes the perception of being an empire from the dawn of history. Part of their nuclear pretensions have nothing to do with Israel, but with their place in the world and the Orient."

TULIP: vakbonden tegen Israel boycot

Een goed initiatief: een samenwerkingsverband van vakbonden die pleiten voor een evenwichtige benadering van het Israelisch-Palestijnse conflict en het stimuleren van de dialoog ipv. boycots tegen Israel.

New group to fight anti-Israel boycotts
Apr. 27, 2009
jonny paul, jerusalem post correspondent in London , THE JERUSALEM POST
LONDON - A new movement to unite trade unions and other NGOs working against boycotts of Israel began operation last week.

Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP) is led by labor officials from three continents - Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union; Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (US/Canada); and Michael Leahy, general secretary of Community, a British trade union - aims "to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hizbullah in the labor movement" and fight for "genuine peace, justice and reconciliation."

The new organization also condemns boycott calls by trade unions.

"... in recent years, a number of national unions and trade union centers have changed course and abandoned that role [of trade unions]. Instead, they have rallied behind those Palestinians who are opposed to the peace process. Some have gone so far as to deny Israel's right to exist," TULIP declares in its mission statement.

"A number of those unions have called for boycotts and sanctions directed against Israel, and only against Israel. They are attempting to demonize the Jewish state, to deny it legitimacy, and to whip up hatred against it. Sometimes that hatred even spills over into anti-Semitism.

"Those unions are wrong - terribly wrong," the statement continues.

TULIP says a two-state solution within secure and recognized borders is the only workable solution and calls for trade unionists around the world to join forces "in support of genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace with justice, based on a two-state solution with secure and recognized borders."

Israel, it says, has already taken the steps toward this goal, by agreeing to the Oslo Accords and later by the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon in 2000 and the Gaza Strip in 2005. Palestinian moderates led by President Mahmoud Abbas also support this process, the group maintains.

The new organization said it would work together with Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists, and associated NGOs, to find ways to provide practical on-the-ground assistance, "rather than empty slogans," in order to fight the boycott calls.

TULIP said it would also provide information and opportunities to begin the process of "turning back the tide" and encourage unions to play a constructive role in the peace process.

Citing the positive role of some unions, it says the people want a process to succeed in delivering peace, justice and reconciliation.

"The International Transport Workers Federation, for example, has done much to bridge the gap between transport workers unions in Israel and Palestine and to reach ground-breaking agreements. The International Trade Union Confederation has encouraged dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian national trade union centers. Trade unions can play a positive role here, and often do. And individual unions in a number of countries have invited Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists to their conferences, helping to promote discussion and agreement.

"This is the traditional role of trade unions when faced with disputes of this kind - bridging the gap between nations at war, encouraging peace, justice and reconciliation. It is a role we can be proud of," the new movement said.

Iran: hervormingsgezinde uitdager van Achmadinejad?

"Holocaust is a fact. It is obvious that it has occurred no matter whether the number of people who perished were 6 million or 6,000. (Denying the Holocaust) is of no benefit to Iran," [Karroubi] told a press conference.
Dit klinkt eerlijk gezegd niet erg geruststellend. Als hij de argwaan tegen Iran wil wegnemen kan hij beter zeggen dat hij het erg vindt dat Achmadinejad iets zo verschrikkelijks als de Holocaust heeft ontkend.
Natuurlijk is het beter als er een gematigder man aan de macht komt in Iran, maar laten we over de 'hervormers' niet teveel illusies hebben. Je komt in Iran niet ver als je het niet met de principes van de islamitische revolutie eens bent, en de eigenlijke macht ligt bij de islamitische 'hoeders van de revolutie'.

Yet another Reformist challenger slams Ahmadinejad

The substance of Iranian policy will not change if a different president is elected. As the article notes:
Karroubi said the biggest challenge for his government, if elected, will be to return Iran to the position and image it had in 2004 when former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, a respected intellectual, stepped down.
But while Khatami was President, Iran was already building the concealed Arak reactor and making centrifuges at the secret Natanz "watch" factory. So all the world will get is a sneakier and slicker Iran.
Ami Isseroff
Reformist challenger slams Ahmadinejad
Apr. 28, 2009
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST
A reformist challenger to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Tuesday that he would reverse the president's hard-line policies, including the denial of the Holocaust, if he wins the June presidential vote.
Mahdi Karroubi, a moderate cleric, is one of four candidates running in the June 12 elections. The leading challenger to Ahmadinejad is another reformist, Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Karroubi strongly criticized Ahmadinejad for pushing Iran into international isolation and said he has needlessly antagonized the West by claiming the Holocaust was a myth, as well as failed to improve living standards despite huge oil revenues unseen in Iran's history.
"Holocaust is a fact. It is obvious that it has occurred no matter whether the number of people who perished were 6 million or 6,000. (Denying the Holocaust) is of no benefit to Iran," he told a press conference.
Karroubi said the biggest challenge for his government, if elected, will be to return Iran to the position and image it had in 2004 when former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, a respected intellectual, stepped down.
Gholam Hossein Karbashchi, Karroubi's campagin manager, said Ahmadinejad has derailed Iran from the path of progress and wisdom and the candidate's priority will be to return Iran to the international fold.
"Iran has been derailed from the path of development ... expert views, planning and wisdom have been non-existent during the past four years. The image of the Iranian president has been reduced to the level of a man without wisdom. Changing this image will be the biggest achievement," he said.
Ahmadinejad's hard-line policies have provoked international condemnation of Iran and prompted the UN Security Council to issue three rounds of sanctions for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
The hard-line president provoked global denunciations after he called UN Security Council resolutions "worthless" and "torn bits of paper."
Dozens of Western diplomats walked out of a UN conference in Geneva last week and a pair of rainbow-wigged protesters threw clown noses at Ahmadinejad when he called Israel the "most cruel and repressive racist regime."
"It was one of his uncalculated statements," Karroubi told reporters. "He calls UN resolutions 'worthless papers' ... and causes troubles for Iran but it is all Iranians who have to pay the price. The president's statements have harmed Iran's interests."
While some supporters gave Ahmadinejad a hero's welcome on his return, moderates complained that the president had undermined "the dignity of Iran and Iranians."
Karroubi, a former parliamentary speaker, said he will pursue a foreign policy of detente with the West and wouldn't mind meeting President Barack Obama if it would help Iran's national interests.
The reformist cleric privately told The Associated Press prior to the press conference that it is wrong to assume that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is supporting Ahmadinejad for re-election.
"During private meetings, he (Khamenei) rejected assertions that he is backing Ahmadinejad for re-election," he said.

Journalistiek: goede en slechte berichtgeving in de media

Voor een artikel in de krant gelden natuurlijk andere criteria dan voor een wetenschappelijke verhandeling, maar ook van journalisten mag een open houding verwacht worden naar feiten die niet in zijn straatje passen en nieuwe inzichten. Het valt mij verder op hoe ongelofelijk veel onwaarheden er in de kranten staan: men neemt zaken klakkeloos van elkaar en de persbureaus over, checkt geen feiten, past geen wederhoor toe, verlangt niet van schrijvers van opiniestukken en columnisten dat de feiten die zij geven kloppen en men rectificeert nooit wanneer men op dergelijke fouten wordt gewezen.

Guide to the perplexed - How to spot Good and Bad articles

The problem is that people are always looking for affirmation of their beliefs in what they read. Therefore, most people will rate an article or analyst as "good" if they agree with the positions of that analyst or article, regardless of whether or not the article in question has any truth value. To the list below, I would add many things. The first one, when you are writing an article or doing research, is to ask yourself if you are looking to find the truth and present it, or if you are only looking to prove a point? Are you going to publish the article if the findings do not serve your viewpoint? Are you excluding facts that don't serve your purpose? Have you thoroughly checked the facts, especially the ones that support your point of view? (A.I.)

How to Be A Good Political Analyst and Not a Propagandist
The rise of Internet has brought new challenges both for writers and readers. Supposedly, a fine [sarcasm alert] publication like the New York Times or Guardian has sharp veteran reporters and great editors ("gatekeepers"). Thus, they filter out nonsense—well at least they once did long ago--and tell you what's most important to know about events. If you are reading these words, however, you know the system isn't working too well nowadays.

Enter the Internet. On the positive side, it liberates the creativity of thousands of people and provides a huge diversity of information. On the negative side, how do you know what's more likely to be true, whether you are a reader or a blogger?

This is, by the way, the kind of thing they are supposed to teach you in graduate school: how to evaluate sources, how to provide a scholarly balance, how to make it clear when you're unsure about something, how to throw out really good stuff that you doubt is accurate, and how not to say something is fact just because it agrees with your analysis or political preferences.

Alas, a lot of these skills or ethical principles have been tossed out the window and thrown under the bus. Large numbers of academics and journalists now believe there is no such thing as truth (or at least the most accurate possible representation of it possible) and that people should be told what's good for them rather than what's accurate.

For them, the purpose of universities is not to pursue truth and beauty but to "fight the man," wage revolution, or bring in the new Politically Correct, culturally diverse, post-national utopia.
Here's a good example of a very bad example.

A propagandist is not someone who merely has a point of view but rather someone who slants the facts to fit it that point of view rather than taking account of them by either explaining how they fit into the picture or modifying one's viewpoint. In short, they try to make all aspects of reality line up like a magnetic field. Naturally, this kind of simple explanation suits many people.

One aspect of this is to define who are the "good guys" and the "bad guys" and then assume that all their actions fall into these categories. This reverses the logical process. For example, many assume Israel is a bad guy. Bad guys do bad things. Bad guys commit war crimes. Therefore, Israel commits war crimes. Evidence becomes irrelevant.

Obviously, this process can be the same if one identifies Iran as the bad guy. Yet that country and its regime must be analyzed, especially because there are many choices for the government to make. There are also different factions which differ in strategy and tactics. And even then, the choices available may be the exact opposites.

For example, given the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq what will Iran's regime do? It could: A. Try to keep things quiet in Iraq thus encouraging the United State sto speed up its withdrawal or B. Heat up the violence to "show" that the United States is running away in defeat.

Even more important is to look at the interests which underlay actions. For instance, can Syria be split away from Iran? No one is qualified to discuss this issue unless they first take into account the interests of the Syrian regime and the benefits it would derive from either maintaining or abandoning the alliance. I happen to believe that the benefits of keeping the alliance far outweigh the advantages of breaking it, and note that the former are virtually never discussed in analyses assuming that the latter is obviously preferable.
In evaluating sources of information one must consider:

--Their past performance, have they been accurate before or not? By this measure, the use of such sources as the world's three most inaccurate journalists--Robert Fisk, Akiva Eldar, and Seymour Hersh--make a story very questionable. The same applies to institutional sources, like Debka.

Zieke inwoners Gazastrook dupe van Hamas-Fatah machtsstrijd

Hamas speelt een macaber spel over de hoofden van zieke patienten. Zo'n tienduizend Palestijnen uit de Gazastrook worden jaarlijks in Israel behandeld, maar helaas proberen ook terroristen van deze 'medische route' gebruik te maken. Vandaar dat wel een goed controlesysteem nodig is, maar dat is met de overname door Hamas van het ministerie van gezondheid en opheffing van het 'referral committee' dat de verwijzingen regelde, verdwenen.


Sick Gazans Victims of Hamas-Fatah Power Struggle
Sick Gazans trapped, denied treatment in latest round of Hamas-Fatah power struggle
The Associated Press
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in the Gaza Strip, unable to travel abroad for crucial treatment for cancer and other diseases, because of political infighting between Gaza's militant Hamas rulers and their Palestinian rivals.
Eight Gazans who were waiting to travel abroad have died since the crisis began in March, when the dispute shut down a medical referral committee that helps sick residents find treatment outside of Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.
Others are hanging on, waiting. Ten-year-old Ribhi Jindiyeh, a lymphoma patient, lies in bed at home, skinny and jaundiced, too weak to move. He underwent chemotherapy last year in an Israeli hospital, and when he returned home in January, he seemed better. But in March, he began urinating blood.
Gaza doctors can't find the problem and give him infusions every two days to keep him alive.
"Nobody here knows why he is losing so much blood, but nobody can refer us to a hospital abroad, either," his mother, Nevine, 38, said.
Another son, 4-year-old Yehia, was diagnosed with lymphoma in March.
"I want everybody to help my son — Israel, Fatah, Hamas, whoever," Nevine said. "If they can't help a sick child, who can they help? They should all pack up their bags and go home."
On Monday, there was hope for a resolution. Hamas health minister Basim Naim announced the restoration of the referral committee, which Hamas' rival, Fatah, had controlled but Hamas shut down in March.
The committee would resume coordinating medical treatment abroad. But Hamas has reservations and has asked mediating independent health workers to find new committee members both sides can agree on, said senior health official Yousef Mudalal.
That raises the possibility of a new dispute.
The split between Hamas and the Fatah movement of U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the West Bank, can have a devastating impact on Gazans' lives.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 after routing forces loyal to Fatah and systematically started taking over government agencies in the tiny Mediterranean territory.
On March 22, Hamas officials took control of the Fatah-run medical committee, which referred about 1,000 patients a month with life-threatening illnesses to Israel and Egypt. Hamas officials said the committee was rife with corruption and needed reform.
In response, the West Bank government, which funds medical treatment for Palestinians abroad, froze most patient transfers.
Gaza patients cannot travel abroad without committee coordination because of a border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover. The two countries only recognize the West Bank administration as the legitimate Palestinian government.
Rights activists say the political differences are jeopardizing people's lives.
"They are playing with the lives of people and their pain. There's a complete absence of responsibility," said Khalil Shaheen of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
The Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights, working with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, has managed to get 35 patients out of Gaza for treatment since the committee collapsed, said Ran Yarom of PHR. But the groups say they don't have the resources to do the committee's job.
The crisis compounds the challenges facing Gaza's medical system. Hospitals use aging equipment and suffer from low medicine supplies.
And in late January, the West Bank government halted payments for medical care in Israel, saying the treatment was too expensive. Fatah health officials said they would only pay for Gaza residents to obtain cheaper medical care in Egypt.
In Gaza City, 12-year-old Mohammed Zibdeh, a brain cancer patient, waits for a permit to travel, breathing with the assistance of a ventilator device in his throat. Last year, doctors in an Israeli hospital worked to shrink his brain tumor with chemotherapy. Now Zibdeh has constant headaches, and his father, Riyad, 48, fears the tumor is growing back.
"I can't help him, and he might be dying before my own eyes," he said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2009 by ABC News Internet Ventures

Vijf Europese landen belangrijkste handelsparteners van Iran

Het is dus duidelijk waarom de sancties niet werken, en als deze landen daarvoor kiezen dan kan Iran zonder militaire middelen toch stevig onder druk worden gezet.

Five Europe states, Iran's main trade partners: Official
www.irna .ir/En/View/FullStory/?NewsId=454884&idLanguage=3

Tehran, April 28, IRNA - Head of Iran's Trade Promotion Organization said the five European countries have been Iran's main trade partners during the past Iranian calendar year.

Iran's trade exchange with these European countries, comprising Germany, Italy, Switzerland, UK and France, is worth dlrs 15.4 billion, Mehdi Ghazanfari said.

"Despite the sanctions imposed on Iran by some western countries and US, the European states are keen on continuing bilateral economic cooperation with Iran," he said, referring to the figure of trade exchange between Iran and those states.


End News / IRNA / News Code 454884

Arna's kinderen - Freedom Theater steunt Palestijnse strijd

Ik heb Arna's kinderen een jaar of vijf geleden op de TV gezien, en herinner me nog mijn verbazing over de haat voor Israel die de kinderen in het theater van nota bene een Israelische Jodin bijgebracht krijgen. Ook staat me nog een scene bij waarin mensen van de Israelische TV langs komen voor een interview. Zij denken dat het een theater gericht op vrede en verzoening is, en vragen de hoofdrolspeler in Romeo en Julia iets in de trant van of hij het niet mooi vindt om in het stuk met een Joodse te trouwen, waarop hij iets niet zo aardigs zegt, en Arna, die vertaalt, een ander antwoord geeft aan de interviewer. De interviewer wordt nogal voor gek gezet en de boodschap is duidelijk: laat ze maar denken dat we voor vrede zijn, maar wij weten wel beter.
De hele film ademde een sfeer van ondergronds verzet, strijd en solidariteit met de 'Palestijnse strijd' (lees: het doden van Israeli's, zowel burgers als soldaten) uit. Inderdaad een zeer krachtige film, ophitsend bijna. Het verbaast me dan ook absoluut niet dat de maker, Juliano Mer Khamis, zich onomwonden voor geweld en tegen een tweestatenoplossing uitspreekt.
Last summer I attended a screening of the movie "Arna's Children" which was sponsored by a local "peace" group called 14 Friends of Palestine. Like many groups which say that they are all for peace, all of their events are not only in opposition to Israeli policy but feature speakers who don't accept the Jewish people's right to self-determination in our own homeland.

The movie has been featured in both Arab and Jewish film festivals, and I was curious; plus the filmmaker, Juliano Mer Khamis, was going to be there to discuss the film as well as the children's theatre group in the Jenin refugee camp that was founded by his late mother (the Arna of the title). The film, though certainly flawed, is a powerful piece, given that a large portion of it was filmed in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 during which the so-called Jenin Massacre took place and follows several former members of the children's theater troupe who had become members of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (one ends up as a mass murderer when he randomly guns down civilians in Hadera, another gets killed while attacking IDF soldiers).

In the discussion afterwards, I asked Juliano, whose father is Arab, whether his mother (who had fought in the Haganah) and he (who had served in the IDF) were promoting simply an anti-occupation viewpoint, or a frankly anti-Israel viewpoint; given that his mother was shown giving a speech to the children praising "intifada", it seemed a reasonable question. Juliano, however, thought this was an entirely unreasonable question, asking how I could even dare to suggest that. He implied, if not straightforwardly stated, that this wasn't about anything except the occupation.

Well, Juliano is an actor by training, and he acted the part of the righteously indignant with skill and gusto. The problem, as it turns out, is that he is indeed an actor, and a bald-faced liar to boot. As part of the controversy that developed when a children's orchestra from Jenin played for an audience of Holocaust survivors, the Freedom Theatre has also come under verbal and physical attack by violent Islamist extremists. So in an attempt to shield himself and his theatre project from this, he has recruited former al-Aqsa Brigades terrorist commander (subsequently granted amnesty by Israel) Zakariya Zubeidi to support the theater. And in a press conference in Jenin this week, Juliano played a very different tune:

""I do not rule out armed struggle," he said, bounding with confidence and strikingly charismatic. "An armed struggle is legitimate as long as it is directed at an occupier, and conducted on occupied land. An occupied people can act against its occupier in any means necessary," Mer said, adding that, "None of us here is to prevent someone from carrying a gun." "But if there's no history, culture, or art behind that gun than that gun is killing instead of liberating." Mer continued, promising that the theater "will not accept funding from any Israeli side," adding that decision on the matter was "final." "I want to make it clear: I support one Palestinian state, from the sea to the [Jordan] river. If the Jews want to live among us, Ahalan wa Sahalan [Arabic for 'go ahead']."

Well, Juliano, you are a good actor. You almost had me believing that you were trying to take a brave step for peace and coexistence and away from violence. But since you apparently believe that all Israel is "occupied land", then "any means necessary" would include such atrocities as the Park Hotel Seder massacre that led to Operation Defensive Shield and the deaths of some of your young terrorist friends. Is it the fact that you now fear a Palestinian bullet that is getting you to openly support terrorism? Or is it actually your goal to have another generation of children come through the theatre and end up as jihadists?
Original content copyright by DrMike 2009. All rights reserved.  Posted at, where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

Druk van familie ontvoerde soldaten verzwakte onderhandelingspositie Israel

Het is inderdaad opvallend dat we sinds de nieuwe regering is aangetreden zo weinig meer vernemen over Shalit, en er blijkbaar geen demonstraties en andere publieke uitingen van de 'Shalit-lobby' meer zijn geweest. Het is 'stating the obvious' dat de activiteiten van hen die voor alles hun geliefden of zonen terugwilden, Hezbollah en Hamas in de kaart spelen, en het valt vooral te hopen dat Israel daarvan leert dat het zich niet tezeer gek moet laten maken door het leed van de naaste familie, hoe aangrijpend en hartverscheurend hun verdriet ook is. De extreem ongelijke gevangenendeals die Israel de laatste jaren heeft gesloten lokken immers alleen maar meer ontvoeringen uit.
You don't say! Ofer Dekel: 'Prisoner swap protests weakened us'
This is really stating the obvious. What is more interesting, is what happened to the "free Shalit" lobby when the new Israeli government took over? Where are the protestors, the signs, the baby pictures of Gilad Shalit, the tent, the press conferences? Did it suddenly become less urgent to free Gilad Shalit?  

'Prisoner swap protests weakened us'

Apr. 27, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST


Public protests weakened Israel's position in negotiations with Hizbullah for captured IDF reservists Ehud Regev and Eldad Goldwasser, Ofer Dekel, the outgoing special negotiator on the captive issue said Monday.

"When the media and the public respond as they do, it weakens one's position," Dekel told Army Radio. "On the other hand though, there are other aspects - families, sensitivities and pain."

Dekel met the families of Regev and Golwasser in Sha'arei Tikva on Monday for the first time since the reservists' bodies were returned to Israel in a prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah in 2007.

Dekel said that the negotiating team always believed that direct contact with the captives' families would hinder the process, but he said he insisted that he knew about every demonstration.

"Warm relations is a natural instinct. We are human beings," he said. "My motto when I had contact with the families was always, 'I am not prepared to reveal anything via the media. Consult with me on any protests that you plan to hold so that we can do things together cleverly.'"

Dekel said that Hizbullah knew all along how to conduct serious negotiations, calling the terror group "despicable, but professional."

"There was never a case in which they didn't come to a meeting ready. Every word of theirs was carefully considered and planned. They knew about every protest rally here in Israel and used it for their benefit," he said.

Dekel, who had been leading Egyptian-mediated negotiations with Hamas for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, resigned last week and was temporarily replaced by Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin.


Meshaal herkozen als politiek leider Hamas

Het zo pragmatisch geworden Hamas heeft ondanks haar bereidheid met Israel te onderhandelen en haar grote flexibiliteit tegenover Fatah alsook het westen, toch de hardliner Meshaal tot hoofd van het politbureau, het hoogste orgaan van de beweging, herkozen.

Ondanks Hamas' bereidheid Israel in feite te erkennen en haar bewering dat men niets tegen Joden heeft, maar slechts tegen de bezetting strijdt, heeft een geestelijke van Hamas op het TV station Al Aqsa zich onlangs als volgt uitgelaten:

The Jews' grandeur today, and their ascent to the world's throne, is because America, with all of its power, is ruled by the Senate, I won't say 'American' but rather 'Jewish' [Senate] ... The time will come, by the will of Allah, when their property will be destroyed and their children will be exterminated, and no Jew or Zionist will be left on the face of this earth."

Het is soms moeilijk om de waarheid onder ogen te zien.


Last update - 22:19 27/04/2009
Meshal reelected Hamas political leader for 4 more years
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent

Khaled Meshal, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau in Damascus, has been reelected to his post for four additional years, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported on Monday.

The decision was the result of an election held in recent days by senior Hamas leaders.

Also according to the report, Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, will replace Muhammad Nazzal in the organization's political bureau.

Sources in Hamas told Ma'an that Gaza-based Hamas political figures and members of the Gaza Strip's local Shura council traveled from the coastal strip to Damascus recently in order to participate in the election.

The political bureau is made up of 15 senior Hamas members.

According to the sources, the decision to replace Nazzal was due to the fact that his local consultative council decided not to nominate him as a candidate.

Though it is not required that the head of the political bureau be from outside the Palestinian territories, senior Hamas figures prefer this to be the case so that the leader is able to embark on official trips throughout the world.

Hamas also elected an executive office consisting of 25 members: the 15 members of the political bureau as well as 10 members of the General Consultative Council.

West Bank Hamas members did not participate in the election as they were unable to travel to Damascus due to Israeli military restrictions.

Additionally, Ishmail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, has appointed Fathi Hamad as Hamas' new interior minister in Gaza, replacing Said Siam, who was killed by Israeli forces in Operation Cast Lead.

woensdag 29 april 2009

Militaire rechtbank PA legt doodstraf op aan Palestijn die land aan Joden verkocht

Terwijl Israel beschuldigd wordt van racisme omdat Arabieren moeilijker aan land zouden kunnen komen dan Joden, krijgen Palestijnen die land aan Joden verkopen de doodstraf, maar daar hoor je niemand over.
Volgens de BBC - die schijnbaar vergoeilijkend op de uitbreiding van Joodse nederzettingen wijst - zal Abbas de doodstraf waarschijnlijk niet goedkeuren. Wat wacht de 'dader' als alternatief - levenslang?

PA military court sentences man to death by hanging for selling land to Israelis
Date: 28 / 04 / 2009 - Time: 13:54
www.maannews .net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=37424

A special Palestinian Authority (PA) military court in Hebron in the sentenced a Palestinian man to death by hanging after he was found guilty of selling land to Israeli settlers on Tuesday.

This is the first time a Palestinian court has handed down a conviction for treason in a case relating to land sales. The suspect is from the Hebron area.

Presiding over tribunal was judge Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Al-Masri. The jurists were the judge Major Mihriz Atyani, and Major Nabil Jabir. Head of military prosecution in Hebron Issa Amr attended the sentencing as well as the military prosecuting attorney in Hebron Hani Al-Heih, the court's clerk Abdul-Rahman Fannun. Lawyers defending the suspect were also present.

The military court held a hearing session on 21 April, on the charge of "leaking lands to Israel".
The PA announced just over a week ago that it is investigating Palestinians who sell land to settlers.

PA courts have convicted Palestinians for collaborating with Israel in the past, usually for providing information about resistance fighters to the Israeli intelligence services. These convictions are based on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Revolutionary Code.
Palestinian handed death sentence
BBC News
Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 10:14 UK
A Palestinian military court has condemned a man to death by hanging for treason for selling land to Israelis.

Anwar Breghit, 59, was convicted by a court in the West Bank town of Hebron. He sold property near his village "that he did not own", prosecutors said.

Correspondents say the sentence, which has to be approved by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is not expected to be carried out.

The Palestinian leader has withheld his approval in several similar cases.

Only two people have had death sentences against them carried out, although others have been summarily executed over suspicions that they sold land to Israelis.

The land near the Palestinian village of Beit Omar that Anwar Breghit sold ended up in the possession of Jewish settlers residing in the nearby settlement of Karmei Tzur.

Israel occupied the West Bank and other Arab territory in the 1967 war.

It has settled more than 400,000 of its own citizens in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - illegally in the eyes of international law, although Israel disputes this.

The continued presence and expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is one of the main points of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Friction between settlements and the more than two million Palestinians in the West Bank frequently leads to violence and bloodshed.


Interview met Israelische minister Avigdor Lieberman

Hoewel Lieberman nog geen duidelijke uitspraken doet over het nieuwe beleid van de regering, geeft dit interview een goede indruk van zijn ideeën. Hij is geen vredesduif en legt veel nadruk op Israels veiligheid, maar hij is ook niet de ultrarechtse extremistische racist die in de media van hem wordt gemaakt.

Lieberman on everything

The world according to Liberman

Apr. 28, 2009

He's only been in the job for a month, but already the foreign minister is fed up with the 'slogans' he keeps hearing from his international counterparts: occupation, settlements, land-for-peace, two-state solutions... His favored key words? Security (for Israel). A stronger economy (for the Palestinians). And stability (for all). Bringing peace to our region is more complex than sloganeering would allow, he tells The Jerusalem Post in this interview, his first with an Israeli newspaper. And it's time we all faced up to the inconvenient reality.

Last Thursday, just a few hours after The Jerusalem Post completed this interview with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, his American counterpart, Hillary Clinton, gave testimony on Capitol Hill that forcefully underlines the different emphases placed by the two allied governments on Middle East problem-solving.

If Israel wants the backing of moderate Arab nations in countering the profound threat posed by Iran, said the American secretary of state, then it needs to get deeply engaged in peace efforts with the Palestinians.

"For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts. They go hand in hand," she told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Moderate Arab countries, she elaborated, "believe that Israel's willingness to re-enter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran."

As Liberman made crystal-clear in our interview, Israel has no desire to stall peace-making efforts with the Palestinians. Quite the contrary. The new government, he said, "intends to take the initiative."

But rather than progress with the Palestinians holding the key to combating Iran, Liberman emphatically sees combating Iran as the key to progress with the Palestinians.

As he put it, "It's impossible to resolve any problem in our region without resolving the Iranian problem. This relates to Lebanon, to their influence in Syria, their deep involvement within Egypt, in the Gaza Strip, in Iraq. If the international community wants to resolve its Middle East problems, it's impossible because the biggest obstacle to this solution is the Iranians."

The new foreign minister, who insisted on conducting the conversation in his reasonable and improving English, was reluctant to go into the specifics of the new foreign policy strategy the coalition will be following. This is in part because it is still a work in progress, and in part because it is to be formally unveiled only on May 18, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House.

And despite several attempts to draw him out, he wouldn't rule in, or rule out, Palestinian statehood.

He did, however, sketch out some parameters. Among them: the contention that progress depends on improved security for Israel, a bolstered economy for the Palestinians, and stability for both; the refusal to so much as discuss a "right of return" to Israel for Palestinian refugees; the clarification that Palestinian recognition of the "Jewish state" is critical to "real peace" but is not a precondition for substantive talks, and the goal of "suffocating" Hamas.

He also all-but ridiculed the idea of further indirect negotiations with Syria for the time being, added some nuances to his position on the hugely controversial issue of a loyalty oath for Israeli citizenship, insisted he would not be forced out of his job by the corruption investigations surrounding him, but stressed that his own personal situation would not affect Israel Beiteinu's presence in the coalition anyway.

Characteristically soft-spoken, puffing somewhat half-heartedly at a cigar along the way, Liberman was carefully setting out what amounts to a call for his international colleagues to remake their thinking on Israel and the region - to "drop the slogans," face up to a reality that is far more complex than it is convenient to acknowledge, and give this new Israeli government some credit and some time as it tries to formulate proposals that will succeed where past peace-making efforts have failed.

He said his impression, to date, was that his foreign counterparts were taking the new government seriously, and respected him for his straight-talking. Clinton's remarks on Capitol Hill, however, make plain that it will be an uphill battle for Liberman and the Netanyahu government, once they overhaul Israel's approach to peace-making, to persuade the international community to do anything similar.

Can we start with the issue of two states for two peoples. Wasn't the international basis for the establishment of Israel that there be a Jewish entity alongside an Arab entity? Is your government now departing from this paradigm or is the principle of two states still the applicable one?

First of all, we must understand why the Palestinian issue is deadlocked, because since 1993 we really made every effort. We had very dovish governments. We can start with Ehud Barak at Camp David, who made a very generous offer to [Yasser] Arafat and he rejected it. As for the Ariel Sharon government, we undertook an insane process called disengagement. We transferred thousands of Jews from the Gaza Strip. We evacuated tens of flowering settlements and we received in return Hamas and Kassam rockets. The last government of Ehud Olmert is the same. From what I saw in the papers, he really made a very very generous offer to Abu Mazen. And the same thing happened: Abu Mazen rejected it.

Were there elements that Olmert offered that were surprising to you?

Of course. I was shocked, as was everybody.

But more than this offer, more important at the end of the day: what was the final result? This was a very dovish government - without Liberman, without Netanyahu. It was Olmert, Barak and Tzipi Livni. And the result? The Second Lebanon War, the operation in Gaza, severed diplomatic relations with Mauritania and Qatar, our soldier Gilad Schalit still in captivity.

And we cannot move forward without understanding why.

I know that all of us know some very popular slogans - land for peace, two-state solutions. It would be very easy to win over public opinion or the mass media by talking in slogans. But this is not election time. We're not during the campaign. We want to bring real results.

Israel has proved its good intentions, our desire for peace. Since 1978, we gave up territories three times larger than Israel. We invested billions of shekels in the Palestinian Authority. We paid a very heavy price. Thousands of our citizens were killed in terrorist acts. What more can we do?

Without understanding the real reasons for this long-standing conflict, we cannot move forward. That's my view.

Over the last two weeks I've had many conversations with my colleagues around the world. Just today, I saw the political adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Chinese foreign minister and the Czech prime minister. And everybody, you know, speaks with you like you're in a campaign: Occupation, settlements, settlers...

You mean they speak in slogans?

Yes, slogans. Settlements, outposts. And I ask only one thing: What was the situation before 1967, before we established a single settlement. What was before '48 and '67? Was it peace, was it a heaven here?

It was the same: friction, terrorism, bloodshed. The PLO and Fatah were established before '67 and the Arab countries controlled Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip for 19 years, from '48 to '67. Nobody spoke during this time about the Palestinian state. And even before the establishment of the state of Israel, it was the same: friction, tension, terror, riots, pogroms. People try to simplify the situation with these formulas - land for peace, two-state solution. It's a lot more complicated.

You don't need to persuade this newspaper not to speak to you in slogans, but nonetheless, is it not the case that for our sake, to keep a Jewish, democratic Israel, we have to find some way to separate from the Palestinians? And doesn't that mean, in principle at least, statehood? I understand the prime minister's concerns about what statehood brings with it - giving one the right to arm and to pose a threat. But what then is the ultimate goal here vis-a-vis the Palestinians?

Yes, you live here and you understand the situation. I'm not sure that in Europe, that the leadership of the European Union, understand. For them, it's occupation, settlements and settlers.

I view The Jerusalem Post not only as an Israeli newspaper, but as a means to speak to people around the world - supporters and enemies.

We must clarify our position. 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. It started like other national conflicts. Today it's a more religious conflict. Today you have the influence of some non-rational players, like Al-Qaida. What is Hamas and Islamic Jihad? It's Iran by proxy.

To resolve this conflict, it is not enough to repeat slogans. I don't see any short way for any comprehensive solutions.

From my point of view, we're interested in three things. First of all, as Israeli citizens, the most important thing is security. I don't want to see, every day, every morning, Palestinian missiles striking Sderot.

Second, what is most important for the Palestinians? I think it's also very clear - the economy. Now I say as a settler, we at Nokdim are the biggest employer in our area. I have met many times with Palestinians from the villages around us, who really strongly do not believe in any political process, in peace processes - not in summits, not in conferences, not in declarations...

They have unemployment of 30-40 percent, especially in the Gaza Strip, with families living on $200 a month. Like all normal peoples, they want, first of all, jobs, to feed their families, to provide education for their children, health services, personal security. So the key value for the Palestinians is the economy.

It's not independence? And they didn't vote for Hamas because they want to get rid of Israel? It's the economy?

Why they voted Hamas is an interesting question. It was not independence, and not because they believe in Hamas's radical ideology, but because Hamas established a social services framework - clinics, funds, schools. And the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, on the other hand, during the Arafat regime and after it, was seen as very corrupt in its institutions. That's why Hamas won the elections. The same applies today. The Palestinians want normal lives, a standard of living, jobs.

And the third element, of course, is stability. Economy, security, stability. It's impossible to artificially impose any political solution. It will fail, for sure. You cannot start any peace process from nothing. You must create the right situation, the right focus, the right conditions.

You say you don't foresee a comprehensive solution in the near future, but we're already hearing from the new American president that this has been going on for long enough.

Annapolis was the wrong approach. With the Road Map, you can see some logical path: First of all, [for the PA to] dismantle terrorist organizations, collect illegal weapons, establish a justice system and establish normal state institutions. You have three stages in the Road Map, with 48-49 paragraphs. Only the last stage, the last paragraphs, deal with negotiations for the permanent solution. So, [under Annapolis,] to jump straight to the last paragraph and to concede on all of the Palestinian commitments to fight terror - it's a very strange approach.

Now in our policy review, it's a new government and we need time. I'm not ready for someone to stand with a stopwatch and say, 'What's happening, what's happening?' I talked with [President Obama's special envoy George] Mitchell, and he well understood our problems.

The people of Israel made their decision [in the elections] and this is really the right time to examine new ideas, new approaches, new visions. We're trying to formulate this new approach now. And the first time that we're going to speak about it so that everyone can see the new policy will be on the 18th of May, during the first meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama.

We intend to take the initiative. Our interest is to keep the initiative in our hands and we will try to convince the Palestinians and the Europeans and the Quartet and the United States that this is the right way.

But I want to stress that the biggest problem, the biggest obstacle to any comprehensive solution, is not Israel. It is not the Palestinians. It's the Iranians.

Today we see how big the Iranian threat is in our area - not only regarding the Palestinian issue. In Lebanon too. And what we've seen in the last few weeks in Egypt is maybe the best illustration of the Iranian threat to this entire region.

It's a three-fold problem: Iran with a nuclear weapon; Iran with long-range missiles; and Iran by proxy - from the South, from the Gaza Strip, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and from the North, with Hizbullah. They can torpedo any solution, any agreement.

Does that mean Iran has to be stopped in order to liberate any substantive process?

Of course. What is the biggest problem for the Palestinians. It's not Israel. It's their internal Palestinian problem. We saw so many atrocities. There is such danger within - between Hamas and Fatah. Their biggest problem is first of all Hamas. Hamas in Judea and Samaria, Hamas in Gaza - supported by the Iranians.

The Iranians are the biggest sponsor of worldwide terrorist activity, whether it's Hizbullah or Hamas or Islamic Jihad or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or anywhere around the world.

Please clarify: We've seen headlines claiming Israel is saying, 'First, you have to stop Iran, and then we'll make progress with the Palestinians'...

It's impossible to resolve any problem in our region without resolving the Iranian problem. This relates to Lebanon, to their influence in Syria, their deep involvement within Egypt, in the Gaza Strip, in Iraq. If the international community wants to resolve its Middle East problems, it's impossible because the biggest obstacle to this solution is the Iranians.

Does that mean Israel is saying to the Americans, 'We're not going to move on the Palestinian issue until you stop Iran?'

Even if you want to put aside the Palestinian-related issues, and to look for a solution in Lebanon, say, the problems in Lebanon have nothing to do with Israelis and Palestinians. The same goes for Egypt and the problems of recent weeks. It's the same: Hizbullah and the Iranians.

I understand. But is our government going to say to the international community and the Americans in particular, 'We're not even going to start trying to make progress with the Palestinians until you stop Iran?

No, no, no, no, no.

That's the impression that's sometimes being created.

No, we must start with the Palestinian issues because it's our interest to resolve this problem. But there should be no illusions. To achieve an agreement, to achieve an end of conflict, with no more bloodshed, no more terror, no more claims - that's impossible until Iran [is addressed], one of the biggest players in our arena...

Where does Hamas and Gaza fit into the plan Israel will present to the Obama administration?

It must be clear that we cannot deal with Hamas in any way. Not directly. Not indirectly. We've tried to clarify our position to Europe. The [three] Quartet conditions must be kept on the table [- recognition of Israel; acceptance of previous agreements; renunciation of violence]. We've clarified that they [Europe] should not move from this, not to change these conditions. Hamas cannot be a partner to any discussions.

Is the goal to bring down Hamas?

Hamas cannot be a partner to any discussions, any talks or any process. I hope that we can suffocate Hamas. It's in our interests, in the interests of the Egyptians, and the Palestinian Authority. As we saw, Hamas is only a proxy of the Iranians here, and they repeat openly every day their intention to destroy us; they're not ready to recognize our right to exist. From my point of view there is only one way: to suffocate Hamas.

How do you achieve that?

We have enough possibilities. If the Egyptians, Palestinians and us build the right strategy, there are many effective ways to do this. Not only militarily. But if Hamas strikes Sderot and other towns in the south, then also militarily.

How do you square suffocating Hamas with a world that is lining up to pour huge amounts of aid and money to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip following the last war?

The role of the Palestinian government is interesting. They have Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, who can really be a partner for reconstruction in Gaza. He can lead this process.

Hamas has said it rejects Fayad.

We reject Hamas. That's my point of view. I think that the international community accepts Salaam Fayad as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian Authority."

Is the Israeli plan to bring the PA back into power in the Gaza Strip?

I don't think that we must interfere in the internal Palestinian problems. It's in their interests to bring back the Palestinian Authority into Gaza. It's not only our interest, but also in the Egyptians' interests to keep Gaza quiet - without weapons, money and terrorist ideology being smuggled into the Gaza Strip. The picture in Gaza is not optimistic.

Even though the generous Olmert government couldn't get a deal with the PA, Fayad and Mahmoud Abbas remain the address?

There are two clear models, one in Judea and Samaria and one in the Gaza Strip. The example of coexistence with Salaam Fayad in Judea and Samaria is really different from our experience with Gaza. It is the Judea and Samaria model that I adopt. We must build up something similar in the Gaza Strip, to strengthen normal, rational partners on the other side that recognize our right to exist. Even the Palestinian people see what the standard of living is in Judea and Samaria, and they can compare this situation to the Gaza Strip.

So you think the Abbas and the PA recognize our right to exist here?

In general, they recognize our right to exist. In my first meeting with Mitchell, I demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish country. It's a very important point for us.

Is this recognition a precondition for negotiations?

No. You know, we don't want to torpedo the process. I don't see this as a precondition. But somebody who really wants a solution, somebody who really desires a real peace and a real agreement, must realize that this would be impossible to achieve without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

So what is your vision of a final deal?

We are in the middle of a deep process of policy review. We're making a very serious effort, and we're trying to prepare ourselves as best we can to show something real on May 18.

And any plan that addresses the 'right of return' of Palestinians is no basis for negotiations?

It is totally unacceptable. It cannot be used as a basis. Not even one refugee.

If President Obama says to Israel, 'I'm trying to tackle Iran, I'm trying to bring in the moderates in the region to help us where your interests are concerned. The Saudis have a peace plan, and I know you don't love it, and I know you're not going to agree to any right of return, but as a basis to get them on board, is this not something that we can work from,' then Israel will be saying...?

It's unacceptable. It cannot be on the table. I'm not ready to even discuss the 'right of return' of even one refugee. There cannot be at the same time a Jewish country and a 'right of return.'

So the final envisaged peaceful outcome?

Before peace we must create security, stability and prosperity. You cannot bring an artificial peace. Peace is a result of security, stability and prosperity. You cannot bring peace to a shaky area with daily friction and bloodshed and some 50 percent [Palestinian] unemployment. It's impossible. Peace must be created in the right way once these conditions are met and a new atmosphere is created.

The prime minister has said very clearly he doesn't want to rule over any Palestinians.

I agree absolutely.

Israel has asked the Americans to put a time limit on their dialogue with Iran. What is the timetable we've asked them to stick to?

We are not America. It's their decision. We're closely monitoring this engagement.

How can Iran be stopped?

First of all, there must be very tough sanctions from the international community. It's not too late for economic sanctions. If the Security Council adopts tough resolutions and tough sanctions, then it's possible to stop [Iran from developing nuclear weapons]. Today I had a meeting with the Chinese foreign minister. The Chinese understand that it would be very bad for the whole area - and they are also very close geographically to Iran - if Iran is a nuclear power. Nobody needs to be happy about this possibility.

You recently met with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. Were you invited to Egypt, and do you plan on visiting there?

We had very interesting talks. It was a very interesting meeting. It was not the first time that I met Mr. Omar Suleiman, and we will continue our dialogue.

But you've not had a formal invitation to Egypt?

I saw before our meeting many speculations, but I think that we will keep this atmosphere going.

There have been reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak plans to propose a major increase in the number of PA police personnel in the West Bank. What is your reaction to this?

I don't want to discuss elements of the new policy. We will make our decisions in the next two weeks. The policy must be acceptable for me, and for all parts of this coalition. This is a very good chance for Israel to make really serious decisions. Our biggest problem is the instability of our political system. We have existed for 61 years, and this is the 32nd government. That's an average of just less than two years for every government. Only one government in the past has completed its term - the 15th government, of Golda Meir. This current government, I think, is the second government in our history that can complete all four years and nine months. It's a very interesting coalition - with a Left wing, with a Right wing, with the religious, the Orthodox. It's really a stable government.

If the Labor party stays together, and if you yourself are not indicted...

The legal issues [surrounding me] are a another question. Israel Beiteinu doesn't have any reason to be out of this coalition. It's not a personal decision, about personal benefits or my private policy. We as a party have today 15 seats in the Knesset and we have an interest to promote this government and support its policies. Everybody in this coalition has good reason to be a part of the coalition for four years and nine months.

We see Iran's effort to demonize Israel working very well. We see support for Israel receding in Europe. We are concerned with the way Israel is perceived in Europe and many places internationally. And then along comes Avigdor Liberman, in the new government as the foreign minister, and fairly or unfairly, you are depicted by critics of Israel as one of the emblems that justify their criticisms. You are depicted as an extremist, a hardliner...

So it's easy for me to surprise them. (Laughs.) I think that they respect me, really respect me, and that they understand that I say what I mean, and I mean every word that I say. My impression from my last discussions with my colleagues from Europe, as well as from Australia and Canada, and with Madame [Hillary] Clinton - was really a very good impression. They understand that we are a really strong coalition. If this government fails to achieve some kind of solution, I don't see any other government in the future that can be more successful. I think that in Europe they are ready to accept us and I think that they understand that we have a better chance.

But don't they ask you, 'Mr. Liberman, are you prepared to give the Palestinians a state at the end of this process or not?'

They understand that we are a new government and that we need time. It's impossible in two weeks to bring a new policy. It takes time. Everybody knows today that there is a meeting in Washington on May 18 between [Barack Obama] and Netanyahu. Everybody is ready to wait until the 18th of May.

The Europeans need to change their tune - to stop saying the words 'settlements, occupation,' and start using the words 'security, stability, prosperity'...

I said today in a meeting with the prime minister of the Czech Republic that we have three examples in Europe for the resolution of conflicts. The first example is of Czechoslovakia itself after the Second World War with Germany in the Sudetenland area in Czechoslovakia. This is a very bad example. The second example is in Northern Ireland. Today it's a good solution, but it took 800 years. We don't have 800 years.

The other example is Cyprus. What was the situation in Cyprus before 1974? The same situation as in Israel. The Greeks and Turks were living together. There was friction, bloodshed and terror and war. After '74, they concentrated all the Greek population in the southern part of the island and the Turkish part of the population in the northern part of the island. There is no peace agreement even today. But there is stability, prosperity and security.

The Greek part of Cyprus is a full member of the EU and nobody is thinking any more about the war and the terror. This is the result, even without a formal peace agreement. And Europe accepted this kind of solution. I think in this way it is clear what kind of solution we prefer.

Can you apply that model to the Syrian track?

It's a different concept and situation completely because what we see from the Syrian side today is that they continue to smuggle weapons to the south of Lebanon in spite of UN Resolution 1701. They continue to support Hizbullah and terrorist activity. They continue to host Hamas and Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus. We see that they are tightening their relations with Iran and they are really a very active part of the axis of evil. They are part of this axis, which stretches from North Korea to Iran, to Hugo Chavez.

America seems to be moving towards engagement with Syria and Iran.

We see the facts. There must be some signs of good will. We don't see any good will from the Syrian side. Only the threats like, 'If you're not ready to talk, we'll retake the Golan by military action.' We see very aggressive policies and very aggressive declarations. I don't see any real conditions for talks with Syria.

So you are not ready to continue indirectly mediated talks with the Syrians?

I don't see any reason today for talks with the Syrians. Also, it's very strange behavior. They say, 'First of all, you must give a commitment that you are ready to go back to the '67 borders and after that we will start to talk.' What would we have to talk about? What kinds of talks are those?

What about modalities of peace?

(Laughs.) In this case, I say that I agree that the Iranians need a nuclear capability for their peaceful policy and they need long-range missiles for their peaceful policy around the world.

Will you personally see out the four years and nine months in this government?

Yes. I am sure that I will be the foreign minister for four years and nine months.

Do you have faith in the judicial system?

I don't think that's a fair question to ask during the investigations, I have a long experience and I think it's part of my Israel experience.

Your policy about a loyalty oath…it seems unprecedented to ask people who are already citizens to take a loyalty oath to remain citizens.

The same things happen in America, where you have a pledge already from the first grade. Even pupils in first grade in schools, from the first day, they have a procedure in which they have to pledge.

What specifically would you want to require in your oath of allegiance?

The same things as in the United States. You don't have to sign a form, but that we as a state have the right to demand, from our citizens and our students, to fulfill their obligations to their country to do some kind of military service or civil service. The dividing line is not between Jews, Christians or Muslims, but to be a loyal citizen or not to be a loyal citizen, or to fulfill your duty or not to fulfill your duty to the country. We must encourage this process and example of civil service for the Orthodox and the minorities. We have to adopt what they have in the United States - the pledge in the schools in the first grade. They have a special bill for people in military service. They have some better conditions for studies and for universities, for housing and to receive employment in the service of the state.

What happens in a school in the Arab sector when the principal does what he is asked to do and calls an assembly every morning and some students don't say [the pledge]. What do you say to that?

Everybody can see our formal platform on Israel Beiteinu's website. People like to create speculation and rumors and make some dramatic statements and commentary. Everyone understands the situation when people in Israel, during war time, support our enemies, identify with terror. It's unacceptable.

How did it feel to hear [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad's comments on Holocaust Remembrance Day?

For me it's really terrible. I have a family that has first-hand knowledge of the Holocaust. My father was a soldier in the Red Army from the first day until 1946. My uncle was killed in Stalingrad.

For us, it's really crazy that after 60 years we have a new Hitler, a new crazy guy with the same ideology, the same purposes and the same aims. When Hitler published Mein Kampf, everybody said, 'He's not serious, he's just a crazy guy.' And when he took power, people said, He will change now that he's in power.' And the same was said with regard to [Ayatollah] Khomeini. And now we see it with Ahmadinejad.

I think we must stop him. I think it is possible. This is the world's problem. They don't want to see the reality.

We want to escape reality. We have this crazy guy. He's decisive, he's charismatic, with a lot of determination and with a lot of political will, who is steadily moving towards reaching the end of his program to be a nuclear power with unconventional weapons. Not only nuclear weapons, but biological.

Do you think he will use nuclear weapons if he has them?

I don't think it's just a question of will he use them, but also of what message it sends to the region, to the Gulf countries. The message is 'Who is the main power? Who is leading the Muslim world?'

It's a very bad message. Today he is stronger and more dangerous than he was yesterday, and tomorrow he will be stronger and more dangerous than he is today.

Is it him or is it the regime?

Him and the regime. Both are the same.

Can Israel survive in the shadow of a nuclear Iran?

I don't think it's a question of Israel. It's a question for the international community. The world today understands that it's not only about Israel and Iran. I don't think that in Japan they can sleep very well with the guy in North Korea who has missiles and nuclear weapons. The biggest problem that we will find ourselves in is a crazy nuclear arms race in this region. I don't even want to think about the consequences of that. The five biggest powers, the permanent members of the Security Council - it is first and foremost their responsibility.

Finally, what is your message to Israelis on Independence Day?

We're really a strong country. We have a big economy in spite of the problems of terror. We have a very strong society. We have very successful industry that garners international respect, even from China and Russia. The pope's coming to visit. We occupy a very serious place in the international community. Tourism is growing. And more people understand us better than ever before. We can hold out hope of a change for the better, of positive changes, in the next four or five years.

Zal Obama Palestijnse eenheidsregering met Hamas erkennen?

Hamas zal nooit instemmen met een eenheidsregering die Israel erkent en het geweld afzweert. Waarom Obama de wet wil aanpassen is niet helemaal duidelijk. Het is wellicht de enige manier om te zorgen dat Amerikaans hulpgeld Gaza kan bereiken, en hij hoopt dat dat ook onder een regering waarin Hamas is vertegenwoordigd, vooral de bevolking zal bereiken en niet Hamas ten goede komen. Dat lijkt me niet erg realistisch. Ondertussen is het nog maar de vraag of er binnenkort een eenheidsregering komt.

Is the US preparing to sell out to Hamas?

The US government is reportedly trying to loosen restrictions on aid money so it can aid a Palestinian government that includes the Hamas terrorist group. Israeli consternation was met by ominous doubletalk:
Officials in Jerusalem were surprised by a report in the L.A. Times Monday that the Obama administration has asked Congress to amend U.S. law to enable the Palestinian Authority to receive federal aid even if Hamas joins a unity coalition.
"Every step that strengthens Hamas only distances peace. In the event that the report is true, it is painful and worrying," a political source in Jerusalem said Monday.
Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces in a bloody 2007 coup, has been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. and therefore cannot not legally receive U.S. government aid.
Israeli officials are still attempting to ascertain the intentions of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration. Initial messages relayed to Jerusalem from Washington said there would be no change in policy, only a change in the language used with reference to a Palestinian unity government.
Hamas does not recognize the right of Israel to exist. Actually that's an understatement. Hamas insists that their mission is to murder all the Jews, who are guilty, among other crimes, of starting the French Revolution and the Soviet Revolution. Hamas  seized power from Fatah in Gaza in a bloody coup, taking from Fatah all the US military equipment that had been supplied to them. Aid money to Hamas would be used to entrench their rule in Gaza and import weapons. The US had promised that no aid voted for reconstruction of Gaza would go to the Palestinians unless and untill Hamas changed its ways. Why was the promise made if there was no intention to keep it? Why is it necessary to change the language if there is no change in policy?   What does it mean: "A change in language, but not a change in policy?" Mr. President, do they get the money or don't they get the money? Never mind the language!
The plot thickens - because Mahmoud Abbas said that the organizations that compose a unity government do not have to accept the principles of that government - such as recognition of Israel.
Alluding to the dispute over whether the Palestinian government should recognize Israel and abide by past Palestinian agreements, Abbas noted that "forces don't need to accept what the government accepts, and we say that the government has to accept the international legitimacy."
A mean battle may be shaping up, or it may be yet another tempest in a teapot.
Ami Isseroff  

Obama admin wants to aid PA government even if it includes Hamas

Here are some famous last words:
Clinton has defended the proposal, saying that the U.S. has continued to fund other governments in which designated terror groups are represented, including the Lebanese government which includes officials from the Hezbollah militant organization
Indeed. And what will the U.S. do if, after the upcoming elections in Lebanon, all the military equipment it has given Lebanon is controlled by the Hezbollah?
Last update - 11:03 27/04/2009       
'Obama wants aid to go to PA even if Hamas joins government'
By Haaretz Service
The Obama administration has asked Congress to amend U.S. law to enable the Palestinians to receive federal aid even if it forms a unity coalition with Hamas, the L.A. Times reported on Monday.
Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces in a bloody 2007 coup, has been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. and therefore cannot not legally receive U.S. government aid.
The U.S. has presented an $830.4-billion emergency spending bill, comprising funding for its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would also allocate $840 million to the Palestinian Authority and for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip following Israel's three-week offensive there earlier this year.
Because none of the Gaza aid can legally reach Hamas, it will be difficult to ensure its delivery to the coastal territory.
The U.S. has refused to grant aid to Hamas unless the group agrees to recognize Israel, renounce violence and agreeing to follow past accords secured between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The administration's request for the minor changes to aid measures is unlikely to come into fruition, as no concrete plans are yet underway for a Palestinian unity government. Reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah have been ongoing, but have so far yielded no results.
Still, the move has stirred controversy among pro-Israel U.S. officials, according to the L.A. Times.
Republican Representative Mark Steven Kirk told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a House hearing last week that the proposal was tantamount to supporting a government with "only has a few Nazis in it," the L.A. Times said.
Democratic Representative Adam B. Schiff called the proposal "completely unworkable," even if Hamas were to agree to abide by the U.S.' preconditions, according to the L.A. Times.
"You couldn't have the leadership of a terrorist organization pick the ministers in the government, with the power to appoint and withdraw them, and answering to them," the L.A. Times quoted him as saying.
Clinton has defended the proposal, saying that the U.S. has continued to fund other governments in which designated terror groups are represented, including the Lebanese government which includes officials from the Hezbollah militant organization.
The secretary of state urged the government to work to change the attitudes of Hamas, rather than cutting of all possibility of dealing with them should they join the ruling Palestinian coalition.
"We don't want to . . . bind our hands in the event that such an agreement is reached, and the government that they are part of agrees to our principles," she said.