zaterdag 19 december 2009
December 16, 2009
By ETHAN BRONNER
"Nothing I have ever written has caused as much controversy," Mr. Benn said in a telephone interview. "Colleagues, politicians and friends all said, 'How can you believe him?' "
After a long career supporting Israeli settlements in occupied land and rejecting Palestinian statehood, Mr. Netanyahu said last June that he accepted the two-state idea. Three weeks ago, he imposed a 10-month freeze on building Jewish housing in the West Bank, something no Israeli leader had done before. Settlers are outraged, and Mr. Netanyahu is facing a rebellion in his party. Together with his removal of many West Bank checkpoints and barriers to Palestinian movement and economic growth, these steps went well beyond what many ever expected of him.
Yet skepticism would be a polite way of describing the reaction of the Palestinians and much of the world, who view his steps as either too little too late or a ruse aimed at buying time to pursue his real agenda.
"Rather than make peace its No. 1 priority, Israel continues to prioritize settlements and the relentless colonization of occupied Palestinian land, rendering the two-state solution politically and economically unviable," Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said this week.
Still, Mr. Benn is not alone in his interpretation. There is a school of thought, both here and in Washington, that says Mr. Netanyahu is going through the same shift experienced by previous hawks who became more conciliatory as prime ministers — Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.
"As we say in Hebrew, things look different from there than they do from here," observed Isaac Herzog, Israel's welfare minister, who comes from the Labor party, referring to a saying that seeks to describe how responsibility blunts ideology. "My keen impression is that he is serious, perhaps more than people realize. He is saying, 'Test me,' and I am afraid the world may be missing a golden opportunity."
Shimon Peres, Israel's president and a longtime two-state advocate, said he sought to serve as Mr. Netanyahu's sounding board and occasional guide. He said he believed that Mr. Netanyahu wanted to cut a deal with the Palestinians but was worried about his political base.
"Calling for a two-state solution was an ideological breakthrough," Mr. Peres said of Mr. Netanyahu. "He wants to be the man that makes the peace. He is not sure about the cost of it. He wouldn't like to find himself in a situation where he makes peace and discovers in the morning that he doesn't have a majority for it. That's his dilemma."
The cost is already becoming manifest. Likud colleagues, including Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, are calling for the settlement moratorium to be canceled if Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, does not return to talks that ended nearly a year ago when Israel invaded Gaza. The point of the 10-month building lull, they say, was to offer a gesture that would bring the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiations.
But the Palestinians have concluded that they can get further by appealing to international bodies than by returning to talks with this Israeli government. Mr. Abbas repeated his rejection of talks without a full settlement freeze at a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Central Council on Tuesday. Palestinian politics are also deeply divided not only between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank but also within each group.
A senior Israeli official acknowledged that the building stoppage was also aimed at the Obama administration, which had demanded a settlement freeze last spring.
"The credibility of the United States president is important to Israel, so we had to respond in a positive way," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "It was actually decided in the summer, but we waited while the Americans tried to get some response from the Palestinians and Arab states. When that failed, we decided to go ahead anyway."
The freeze was less than what was demanded by the Americans and the Palestinians. It permits nearly 3,000 units to be completed, includes some 28 public buildings and leaves East Jerusalem out. Still, senior American officials say it will greatly reduce the construction as the months roll on — as many as 15,000 units by some estimates, including one by Mr. Peres. In addition, the American officials say, if the Palestinians return to negotiations, the freeze is likely to be extended.
For Israel's political right, which considers settling in all of the historical land of Israel to be the core mission of Zionism, such a stoppage is clearly painful.
But aides and analysts say the prime minister's highest priorities are keeping warm relations with Washington and checking Iran's nuclear development and regional ambition. The United States believes that it will be easier to stop Iran if Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank. Mr. Netanyahu rejects that linkage, saying once Iran is stopped it will be easier to make peace with the Palestinians, since Iran supports anti-peace elements, like Hamas.
But as Israel faces diplomatic isolation over its war in Gaza a year ago, it has decided to yield to the American argument, at least in part.
Dov Weissglas, a top aide to Mr. Sharon when he was prime minister, recently wrote of the need to take this route in an article in Yediot Aharonot. He said that the settlement moratorium was not enough but that it was a sign of promise to be encouraged.
"No one in the world agrees to Israel's presence in a majority of the Judea and Samaria territories and the continued construction there," he wrote. "Israeli persistence will bring upon it diplomatic isolation, and this is something that Israel cannot afford. The freeze plan is an attempt to avoid this. It is not important in and of itself, but as a first sign of a process of understanding and sobriety, it is highly meaningful."
Dec 17, 2009 22:44 | Updated Dec 18, 2009 0:08
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Six months after its launching, the new satellite TV station Al-Falastiniyeh announced on Thursday that it would go off the air at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, sources in Ramallah revealed that former Fatah security commander Mohammed Dahlan is planning to open a new TV station in the West Bank.
Al-Falastiniyeh was established as a mouthpiece for Fatah and as a counterbalance to Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV network.
The Fatah Central Committee decided to shut down the station after failing to secure enough funding and due to its poor performance and infighting among the managers.
Fatah legislator Nabil Amr, a former minister of information in the Palestinian Authority who had been entrusted with overseeing the establishment of the new station, resigned a few months ago.
He was succeeded by Yahya Khalaf, another top Fatah operative, who also resigned shortly afterwards, citing lack of funding and mismanagement.
In a statement, the TV station management said that the decision to go off the air was taken for financial and technical reasons. However, it did not elaborate.
Amr said that the station's annual budget was supposed to be $7m., but the Fatah leadership managed to secure only $1.4m. to keep it running for the past six months.
Amr expressed regret over the decision to shut the Fatah station. "Instead of closing it down, it should have been developed," he said. "Fatah needs to have its own TV station, but the Fatah leadership has apparently decided to use the Palestinian Authority TV instead."
Uit de tekenfilm:
Teacher (Jewish): My dear children, the characteristics of the Arabs are: They are cross-eyed, their faces are pockmarked, their noses are crooked, they have evil features, their moustaches are curly, they have deformities, and their teeth are yellow and rotten. These Arabs are barbaric. If they see you, they will kill you. That's why we should get rid of them, before they kill you.
Arabische jongen: "We zijn geschapen om Allah te dienen. We behandelen elkaar met mededogen. We houden van het leven en houden ervan om mensen te dienen."
Joodse jongen: "Vertel me wat je hebt geleerd van het leven."
Arabische jongen: "Ik heb geleerd dat Jeruzalem van ons is. Ik heb geleerd om te houden van mijn land en mijn volk. Ik heb geleerd dat we een land hadden dat ons met geweld werd afgenomen en enkel terug van ons kan worden met geweld. Ik heb geleerd over rechtvaardigheid en eerlijkheid."
Commentaar in de studio bij de tekenfilm:
Saraa Barhoum (tegen een Palestijnse jongen in de studio): "Vertel me, Ghassan, wat heeft je moeder verteld je over het islamitisch onderwijs? Wat heeft ze je geleerd?"
Nassur: "Kom Ghassan, vertel ons wat je geleerd hebt van deze [film] en het [verschil] in het onderwijs tussen ons en onze vijanden."
Ghassan: "De Joden leren hun kinderen [mensen] af te slachten, te vernietigen, te doden en [neer] te schieten, terwijl onze kinderen worden onderwezen over vriendschap, loyaliteit, evenals de Islamitische godsdienst en het onthouden van de Koran. Onze kinderen worden onderwezen om niet te stelen en niet te liegen."
(vertaling en hat tip: Brabosh http://brabosh.com/2009/12/18/hamas-tv-leert-in-kinderprogramma-jodenhaat-video/)
Following are excerpts from the Hamas TV Children's Show "The Pioneers of Tomorrow", which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on December 4, 2009. Child host Saraa Barhoum: Today, we will talk about education in Islam, and how we teach our children values, morality, and good manners, Nassur. Teddy bear Nassur: That's right, dear children. Saraa, perhaps we will watch a cartoon, and see how children are being educated. Saraa Barhoum: Okay, let's watch the film, and then we will return. Stay with us. [...] Film shows a Jewish boy walking along and dropping a bill of money. An Arab boy stops and picks it up. Arab boy: Hey, stop. Jewish boy: Yes, what is it? Arab boy: You dropped some money. It's yours. Jewish boy: Oh? It's really mine. Tell me, who are you? Arab boy: Me? My name is Muataz, and I'm a Palestinian Arab. Jewish boy: You're an Arab? Are you sure? And a Palestinian, on top of it? Arab boy: Yes, I'm sure. Why? Jewish boy: But we were taught at school that the characteristics of the Arabs... Flashback to a classroom Teacher: My dear children, the characteristics of the Arabs are: They are cross-eyed, their faces are pockmarked, their noses are crooked, they have evil features, their moustaches are curly, they have deformities, and their teeth are yellow and rotten. These Arabs are barbaric. If they see you, they will kill you. That's why we should get rid of them, before they kill you. Jewish boy (talking to Arab boy): But I don't see anything of what the teacher told us. Arab boy: You had better ask your grandfather whether he ever had a better life than in the days of Islam. Jewish boy: Can I ask you a question? Arab boy: Go ahead. Jewish boy: Why did you give my money back to me, when you could have taken it? Arab boy: That's what our religion teaches us honesty. Jewish boy: But my big brother told me... Flashback to the boy sitting with his big brother, who is telling him a story Brother: Let me tell you, dear, the Arabs are evil thieves. Let me tell you a story about the Arabs. Long ago, the Arabs were... Jewish boy (talking to Arab boy): But I see it's not like that. Where do you live, and how did you get here? Arab boy: I used to live on this land, which you people plundered. We used to have a garden and a beautiful home, but... Jewish boy: But what? Go on. Arab boy: But you bulldozed our garden and destroyed our home. You killed my father and my mother in order to build this wall. I live over there, beyond the wall, with my grandmother. Jewish boy: But my father used to tell me that the Arabs slaughtered us, and that they wanted to kill every single Jew. That's why my father would train me... Flashback to the father teaching his son to shoot Father: Shoot him, my dear! Shoot him! Before he eats you up. (laughs) Arab boy: That's not true. We were created to serve Allah. We treat one another with compassion. We love life, and love to serve people. Jewish boy: Tell me what you've learned from your life. Arab boy: I've learned that Jerusalem is ours. I've learned to love my country and land. I've learned that we have a land that was taken by force, and will only be restored by force. I have learned justice and honesty. Saraa Barhoum (to boy in studio): Tell me, Ghassan, what has your mother told you about an Islamic education? What did she teach you? Nassur: Ghassan, tell us what you learned from this [film], and the [difference] in education between us and our enemies. Ghassan: The Jews teach their children to slaughter, to destroy, to kill, and to shoot, whereas our children are taught friendship, loyalty, as well as the Islamic religion, and memorizing the Koran. Our children are taught not to steal and not to lie. Saraa Barhoum: And faith, and... Nassur: And love of the homeland too. Ghassan: Yes, faith and love of the homeland. Saraa Barhoum: Very good. Nassur: Do you have a question? Saraa Barhoum: Maybe we could hear him sing? Nassur: Can I ask one more question? Saraa Barhoum: Yes, go ahead. Nassur: Can you remember a day in which you were sad and you cried? Saraa Barhoum: For example, when somebody dear to you died. Ghassan: When my father beat me. Saraa Barhoum (laughing): Well, everybody... Obviously, your father wanted to teach you something. Nassur: Did he beat you only once? Ghassan: No, a lot. Saraa Barhoum: Because he wanted to teach you manners and... If you made a mistake, you need to do better next time.
Antisemitic Hamas TV Cartoon Portrays Stereotypical Jews, While Accusing Israeli Education System of Racism
Following are excerpts from the Hamas TV Children's Show "The Pioneers of Tomorrow", which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on December 4, 2009.
Child host Saraa Barhoum: Today, we will talk about education in Islam, and how we teach our children values, morality, and good manners, Nassur.
Teddy bear Nassur: That's right, dear children. Saraa, perhaps we will watch a cartoon, and see how children are being educated.
Saraa Barhoum: Okay, let's watch the film, and then we will return. Stay with us.
Film shows a Jewish boy walking along and dropping a bill of money. An Arab boy stops and picks it up.
Arab boy: Hey, stop.
Jewish boy: Yes, what is it?
Arab boy: You dropped some money. It's yours.
Jewish boy: Oh? It's really mine. Tell me, who are you?
Arab boy: Me? My name is Muataz, and I'm a Palestinian Arab.
Jewish boy: You're an Arab? Are you sure? And a Palestinian, on top of it?
Arab boy: Yes, I'm sure. Why?
Jewish boy: But we were taught at school that the characteristics of the Arabs...
Flashback to a classroom
Teacher: My dear children, the characteristics of the Arabs are: They are cross-eyed, their faces are pockmarked, their noses are crooked, they have evil features, their moustaches are curly, they have deformities, and their teeth are yellow and rotten. These Arabs are barbaric. If they see you, they will kill you. That's why we should get rid of them, before they kill you.
Jewish boy (talking to Arab boy): But I don't see anything of what the teacher told us.
Arab boy: You had better ask your grandfather whether he ever had a better life than in the days of Islam.
Jewish boy: Can I ask you a question?
Arab boy: Go ahead.
Jewish boy: Why did you give my money back to me, when you could have taken it?
Arab boy: That's what our religion teaches us honesty.
Jewish boy: But my big brother told me...
Flashback to the boy sitting with his big brother, who is telling him a story
Brother: Let me tell you, dear, the Arabs are evil thieves. Let me tell you a story about the Arabs. Long ago, the Arabs were...
Jewish boy (talking to Arab boy): But I see it's not like that. Where do you live, and how did you get here?
Arab boy: I used to live on this land, which you people plundered. We used to have a garden and a beautiful home, but...
Jewish boy: But what? Go on.
Arab boy: But you bulldozed our garden and destroyed our home. You killed my father and my mother in order to build this wall. I live over there, beyond the wall, with my grandmother.
Jewish boy: But my father used to tell me that the Arabs slaughtered us, and that they wanted to kill every single Jew. That's why my father would train me...
Flashback to the father teaching his son to shoot
Father: Shoot him, my dear! Shoot him! Before he eats you up. (laughs)
Arab boy: That's not true. We were created to serve Allah. We treat one another with compassion. We love life, and love to serve people.
Jewish boy: Tell me what you've learned from your life.
Arab boy: I've learned that Jerusalem is ours. I've learned to love my country and land. I've learned that we have a land that was taken by force, and will only be restored by force. I have learned justice and honesty.
Saraa Barhoum (to boy in studio): Tell me, Ghassan, what has your mother told you about an Islamic education? What did she teach you?
Nassur: Ghassan, tell us what you learned from this [film], and the [difference] in education between us and our enemies.
Ghassan: The Jews teach their children to slaughter, to destroy, to kill, and to shoot, whereas our children are taught friendship, loyalty, as well as the Islamic religion, and memorizing the Koran. Our children are taught not to steal and not to lie.
Saraa Barhoum: And faith, and...
Nassur: And love of the homeland too.
Ghassan: Yes, faith and love of the homeland.
Saraa Barhoum: Very good.
Nassur: Do you have a question?
Saraa Barhoum: Maybe we could hear him sing?
Nassur: Can I ask one more question?
Saraa Barhoum: Yes, go ahead.
Nassur: Can you remember a day in which you were sad and you cried?
Saraa Barhoum: For example, when somebody dear to you died.
Ghassan: When my father beat me.
Saraa Barhoum (laughing): Well, everybody... Obviously, your father wanted to teach you something.
Nassur: Did he beat you only once?
Ghassan: No, a lot.
Saraa Barhoum: Because he wanted to teach you manners and... If you made a mistake, you need to do better next time.
vrijdag 18 december 2009
Hamas still wants to liberate 'all of Palestine'
By Ari Shavit, Haaretz Correspondent
The ultimate solution is not the total liberation of the Gaza Strip or a Palestinian state. It is the liberation of all of Palestine.
Haniyeh did not say so outright, but his words are clear. Hamas is demanding Ramle and Lod, Haifa and Jaffa, Abu Kabir and Sheikh Munis. It is also demanding the land on which this article was written and the land on which this article was printed - the land on which the editorial offices of Haaretz are located and the land on which the Haaretz printing plant is located. The land, the entire land. Greater Palestine.
In recent years, quite a number of experts have promised us that Hamas does not really mean it. Hamas is only playing tough, but its intentions are lofty: cease-fire, Green Line, coexistence. Live and let live. But no message conveyed by any senior Hamas member to any diplomat behind closed doors is equal in status to the message conveyed by Haniyeh to the masses. What counts is only the direct and open statement made by the Palestinian leader to his people. Palestine, all of Palestine. Every piece of Israeli land on which any Israeli citizen lives. His home, your home, our home. The land beneath our feet.
Ostensibly, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is an alternative to Hamas. Two days ago Abbas told Haaretz correspondent Avi Issacharoff that an agreement could be reached within six months. There's one small problem: Similar things were said to us when the Beilin-Abbas agreement was formulated in 1995. Similar things were said to us on the eve of Camp David 2000. Similar things were promised us when the Geneva Initiative was signed in 2003. Similar things were promised us when Israel went to Annapolis in 2007.
But every time an Israeli leader took another significant step toward Abbas, Abbas became evasive. To this day Abbas has not responded positively to the offer of 100 percent made to him by former prime minister Ehud Olmert 15 months ago.
We can understand why Abbas is suspicious of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. But it's impossible to understand why Abbas has once again evaded Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin, or why the Palestinian "peace leader" has never signed a draft peace deal or offered a peace compromise.
Minister Benny Begin says the reason is that, in its own way, Fatah is also a Greater Palestine movement. Others say the reason is that since Abbas is a refugee from Safed, he will never give up the right of return. Some argue that Abbas wants to but cannot, and others believe he can but doesn't want to.
Whatever the case, Mahmoud Abbas seems to be presenting a mirage of peace. He has been talking about two states for the past 21 years, without being willing to pay the price the Palestinians must pay in order to implement the two-state solution.
The truth is harsh. The occupation is destroying Israel. It is undermining Israel's ethical, democratic and diplomatic foundations. But both Hamas and Fatah are making it very difficult to end the occupation. With Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip, arming itself to the teeth and enjoying the support of about one-third of the Palestinians, it has the right to veto any diplomatic progress. With Fatah unwilling to recognize the Jewish nation-state and objecting to a demilitarized Palestinian state, there is no chance for a peace treaty.
Haniyeh and Abbas are pushing Israel into a trap, each in his own way. Only naifs believe that additional negotiations over a final-status agreement will extricate Israel from the trap. But the alternative to a final-status agreement is not a continuation of the status quo. The alternative is an Israeli initiative. MK Shaul Mofaz's plan is one possibility; a second disengagement is another.
Whatever the case, Israel must deal with the existential threat of the occupation on its own. Time is running out, and the writing is on the wall. "Palestine," the wall is blaring, "all of Palestine."
Just another data point for the many Hamas apologists who manage to twist Hamas leaders' words into something that can possibly be construed as approaching a slight semblance to moderation:
Haaretz exclusive: Olmert's plan for peace with the Palestinians
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert proposed giving the Palestinians land from communities bordering the Gaza Strip and from the Judean Desert nature reserve in exchange for settlement blocs in the West Bank.
According to the map proposed by Olmert, which is being made public here for the first time, the future border between Israel and the Gaza Strip would be adjacent to kibbutzim and moshavim such as Be'eri, Kissufim and Nir Oz, whose fields would be given to the Palestinians.
Olmert also proposed giving land to a future Palestinian state in the Beit She'an Valley near Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi; in the Judean Hills near Nataf and Mevo Betar; and in the area of Lachish and of the Yatir Forest. Together, the areas would have involved the transfer of 327 square kilometers of territory from within the Green Line.
Olmert presented his map to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in September of last year. Abbas did not respond, and negotiations ended. In an interview with Haaretz on Tuesday, Abbas said Olmert had presented several drafts of his map.
The version being disclosed Thursday in Haaretz is based on sources who received detailed information about Olmert's proposals.
Olmert wanted to annex 6.3 percent of the West Bank to Israel, areas that are home to 75 percent of the Jewish population of the territories. His proposal would have also involved evacuation of dozens of settlements in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern Samarian hills and in the Hebron region. In return for the annexation to Israel of Ma'aleh Adumim, the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements, Ariel, Beit Aryeh and settlements adjacent to Jerusalem, Olmert proposed the transfer of territory to the Palestinians equivalent to 5.8 percent of the area of the West Bank as well as a safe-passage route from Hebron to the Gaza Strip via a highway that would remain part of the sovereign territory of Israel but where there would be no Israeli presence.
Olmert gave Col. (res.) Danny Tirza, who had been the primary official involved in planning the route of the security fence, the task of developing the map that would provide the permanent border between Israel and the Palestinian state. Olmert's proposed annexation to Israel of settlement blocs corresponds in large part to the route of the security fence. In his proposal for a territory swap, Olmert rejected suggestions previously raised involving the transfer to the Palestinians of the eastern Lachish hills, deciding instead to establish communities there for evacuees from the Gaza Strip. He also showed a preference for giving the Palestinians agricultural land over the transfer of the Halutza sands near the Egyptian border.
The implementation of the Olmert plan would require the evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers and the removal of hallmarks of the West Bank settlement enterprise such as Ofra, Beit El, Elon Moreh and Kiryat Arba, as well as the Jewish community in Hebron itself.
Olmert reached a verbal understanding with the Bush administration to the effect that Israel would receive American financial aid to develop the Negev and Galilee to absorb some of those settlers evacuated from the West Bank. Other evacuees would have been resettled in new apartments to be built in the settlement blocs that Israel would annex.
Olmert's office said in response to the disclosure of the plan: "On September 16, 2008, [Olmert] presented Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] a map that had been prepared based upon dozens of conversations that the two held in the course of the intensive negotiations after the Annapolis summit. The map that was presented was designed to solve the problem of the borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state. Giving Abu Mazen the map was conditioned upon signing a comprehensive and final agreement with the Palestinians so it would not be used as an 'opening position' in future negotiations the Palestinians sought to conduct. Ultimately, when Abu Mazen did not give his consent to a final and complete agreement, the map was not given to him."
Olmert's office also told Haaretz that "naturally for reasons of national responsibility, we cannot relate to the content of that map and the details of the proposal. At the same time, it should be stressed that in the details contained in your question, there are a not inconsiderable number of inaccuracies that are not consistent with the map that was ultimately presented."
Olmert is currently suggesting that his map provide the basis for the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians. In his talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign statesmen, the former prime minister has said the international community must demand a formal response from Abbas to the Olmert proposal and proceed from there in the talks. Olmert has not presented the detailed map to Netanyahu.
Shaul Arieli of the Council for Peace and Security, which developed a map with a final border as part of the Geneva Initiative, said Israel's capacity to swap territory with a future Palestinian state is more limited than what Olmert reportedly proposed.
donderdag 17 december 2009
The appeal from Suleiman, who arrived in Washington on Saturday, is at the heart of much of the country's political turmoil. Lebanon's government is a shaky coalition of Western-backed factions and Syrian-supported groups led by Hizbullah.
The United States has long provided military assistance to Lebanon - including $410 million to the military and the police. But America has not handed over any sophisticated arms for fear they could end up in the hands of Hizbullah.
According to the US Embassy in Beirut, the military assistance over the past years includes aircraft, tanks, artillery, small boats, infantry weapons, ammunition, Humvees and cargo trucks. It added that the US will provide the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with 12 Raven unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft in the coming months.
Israeli officials expressed concern with the growing alliance between the Lebanese government and Hizbullah. The Lebanese parliament recently approved a national unity government that will allow Hizbullah to keep its weapons despite strong criticism from pro-Western lawmakers.
Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that Hizbullah was becoming the "real Lebanese army" and was today the dominant force in Lebanon.
Practically, the issue at hand for Israel is whether it will make a distinction during a future war between Hizbullah and LAF targets like it did during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Due to the growing alliance between the two as well as the government's support of Hizbullah, it is unlikely, officials said, that Israel would make the distinction in the future.
"Hizbullah and the LAF are turning into one and the same," one high-ranking defense official said recently. "Practically, this means more targets in a future conflict."
Hisham Jaber, who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Public Relations in Beirut, said Suleiman's appeal is part of his work to develop a national defense strategy that would eventually integrate Hizbullah's weapons into the army.
"You cannot speak about a defense strategy and disarming the resistance without the presence of a strong army," Jaber told The Associated Press.
The White House said earlier this month that Obama and Suleiman would discuss a broad range of issues, including achieving peace in the region.
AP contributed to the report.
The notes, from Iran's most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.
An Asian intelligence source last week confirmed to The Times that his country also believed that weapons work was being carried out as recently as 2007 specifically, work on a neutron initiator.
The technical document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan's bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.
"Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application," said David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which has analysed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Iranian programme. "This is a very strong indicator of weapons work."
The documents have been seen by intelligence agencies from several Western countries, including Britain. A senior source at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that they had been passed to the UN's nuclear watchdog.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said yesterday: "We do not comment on intelligence, but our concerns about Iran's nuclear programme are clear. Obviously this document, if authentic, raises serious questions about Iran's intentions."
Responding to The Times' findings, an Israeli government spokesperson said: "Israel is increasingly concerned about the state of the Iranian nuclear programme and the real intentions that may lie behind it."
The revelation coincides with growing international concern about Iran's nuclear programme. Tehran insists that it wants to build a civilian nuclear industry to generate power, but critics suspect that the regime is intent on diverting the technology to build an atomic bomb.
In September, Iran was forced to admit that it was constructing a secret uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom. President Ahmadinejad then claimed that he wanted to build ten such sites. Over the weekend Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, said that Iran needed up to 15 nuclear power plants to meet its energy needs, despite the country's huge oil and gas reserves.
Publication of the nuclear documents will increase pressure for tougher UN sanctions against Iran, which are due to be discussed this week. But the latest leaks in a long series of allegations against Iran will also be seized on by hawks in Israel and the US, who support a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before the country can build its first warhead.
Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: "The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution."
The Times had the documents, which were originally written in Farsi, translated into English and had the translation separately verified by two Farsi speakers. While much of the language is technical, it is clear that the Iranians are intent on concealing their nuclear military work behind legitimate civilian research.
The fallout could be explosive, especially in Washington, where it is likely to invite questions about President Obama's groundbreaking outreach to Iran. The papers provide the first evidence which suggests that Iran has pursued weapons studies after 2003 and may actively be doing so today if the four-year plan continued as envisaged.
A 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate concluded that weapons work was suspended in 2003 and officials said with "moderate confidence" that it had not resumed by mid-2007. Britain, Germany and France, however, believe that weapons work had already resumed by then.
Western intelligence sources say that by 2003 Iran had already assembled the technical know-how it needed to build a bomb, but had yet to complete the necessary testing to be sure such a device would work. Iran also lacked sufficient fissile material to fuel a bomb and still does although it is technically capable of producing weapons-grade uranium should its leaders take the political decision to do so.
The documents detail a plan for tests to determine whether the device works without detonating an explosion leaving traces of uranium detectable by the outside world. If such traces were found, they would be taken as irreversible evidence of Iran's intention to become a nuclear-armed power.
Experts say that, if the 2007 date is correct, the documents are the strongest indicator yet of a continuing nuclear weapons programme in Iran. Iran has long denied a military dimension to its nuclear programme, claiming its nuclear activities are solely focused on the production of energy for civilian use.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Is this the smoking gun? That's the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium."
woensdag 16 december 2009
Dec 16, 2009 1:30 | Updated Dec 16, 2009 10:08
By DAN IZENBERG
Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni is not the only one, or even one of a select few, who face the near-certainty of arrest should they make the mistake of visiting England.
According to former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Allan Baker, two of every three ministers in the cabinet would also likely be arrested and detained in a British jail if they did the same.
Britain is one of several west European countries that have passed laws granting it international jurisdiction - that is, the right to try anyone suspected of violating various provisions of international law, no matter where the alleged crimes were committed or the citizenship of the suspect.
Israel first tasted the sting of international jurisdiction in 2001, when a warrant was issued in Belgium for the arrest of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former army Chief-of-Staff Raphael Eitan and former head of IDF Northern Command, Amos Yaron, for their alleged roles in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in Beirut by Christian militiamen. The charges were eventually dropped, and Belgium changed its law to make it more difficult to apply universal jurisdiction.
But the threat remains in other countries. In 2005, former head of IDF Southern Command Doron Almog narrowly escaped arrest when he was advised to remain on board the plane that had brought him to London and immediately return to Israel.
Another, more recent case involved Spain, which issued warrants for the arrest of seven Israelis involved in the bombing of an apartment building in Gaza City which killed Hamas military leader Salah Shehadeh, his aide, and 13 civilians, and wounded 150. In September a warrant for the arrest of Defense Minister Ehud Barak was issued in London for his role in Operation Cast Lead. The court refused to hear the case on the grounds that Barak enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
Livni would almost certainly not have been as lucky as Barak had she not cancelled her travel plans at the last minute.
Israel has tried to fight the threat of universal jurisdiction on two fronts - legal and diplomatic.
On the legal front, Foreign Ministry and other officials have tried to persuade the various countries to change their laws. Baker said that he went to England to talk to Foreign Office officials before a planned visit by Sharon. The officials promised that Parliament would change the law to make it more difficult to detain and try Israeli leaders.
According to the current situation, any British lawyer representing clients may go to court and ask for an arrest warrant against a foreign leader whom they accuse of international law violations. If the judge is satisfied that the allegations are substantial, he will issue the warrant and put the suspect on trial.
Baker said that the officials with whom he spoke promised to add an amendment to the law that would call for the attorney-general to approve the warrant. However, this has not happened and the law has not been changed. Baker added that in the increasingly hostile climate toward Israel today, the chances that the British Parliament would pass such legislation are even smaller.
In 2005, after the Almog affair, the government took its first steps to combat the threat of international jurisdiction. It established teams of lawyers in the "danger" countries to immediately represent any Israeli official against whom an arrest warrant was issued.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, the Justice Ministry began to provide advice to Israelis who were considering visiting western Europe.
Only last week, the Justice Ministry announced the appointment of attorney Roi Schiendorf to head a special task force assigned to deal with legal procedures involving Israelis abroad. The aim of the task force is to centralize the government's handling of all the legal aspects of the problem.
www jihad com
Published: December 15, 2009
Last week, five men from northern Virginia were arrested in Pakistan, where they went, they told Pakistani police, to join the jihad against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They first made contact with two extremist organizations in Pakistan by e-mail in August. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday: " 'Online recruiting has exponentially increased, with Facebook, YouTube and the increasing sophistication of people online,' a high-ranking Department of Homeland Security official said. ... 'Increasingly, recruiters are taking less prominent roles in mosques and community centers because places like that are under scrutiny. So what these guys are doing is turning to the Internet,' said Evan Kohlmann, a senior analyst with the U.S.-based NEFA Foundation, a private group that monitors extremist Web sites."
The Obama team is fond of citing how many "allies" we have in the Afghan coalition. Sorry, but we don't need more NATO allies to kill more Taliban and Al Qaeda. We need more Arab and Muslim allies to kill their extremist ideas, which, thanks to the Virtual Afghanistan, are now being spread farther than ever before.
Only Arabs and Muslims can fight the war of ideas within Islam. We had a civil war in America in the mid-19th century because we had a lot of people who believed bad things - namely that you could enslave people because of the color of their skin. We defeated those ideas and the individuals, leaders and institutions that propagated them, and we did it with such ferocity that five generations later some of their offspring still have not forgiven the North.
Islam needs the same civil war. It has a violent minority that believes bad things: that it is O.K. to not only murder non-Muslims - "infidels," who do not submit to Muslim authority - but to murder Muslims as well who will not accept the most rigid Muslim lifestyle and submit to rule by a Muslim caliphate.
What is really scary is that this violent, jihadist minority seems to enjoy the most "legitimacy" in the Muslim world today. Few political and religious leaders dare to speak out against them in public. Secular Arab leaders wink at these groups, telling them: "We'll arrest if you do it to us, but if you leave us alone and do it elsewhere, no problem."
How many fatwas - religious edicts - have been issued by the leading bodies of Islam against Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Very few. Where was the outrage last week when, on the very day that Iraq's Parliament agreed on a formula to hold free and fair multiparty elections - unprecedented in Iraq's modern history - five explosions set off by suicide bombers hit ministries, a university and Baghdad's Institute of Fine Arts, killing at least 127 people and wounding more than 400, many of them kids?
Not only was there no meaningful condemnation emerging from the Muslim world - which was primarily focused on resisting Switzerland's ban on new mosque minarets - there was barely a peep coming out of Washington. President Obama expressed no public outrage. It is time he did.
"What Muslims were talking about last week were the minarets of Switzerland, not the killings of people in Iraq or Pakistan," noted Mamoun Fandy, a Middle East expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London. "People look for red herrings when they don't want to look inward, when they don't want to summon the moral courage to produce the counter-fatwa that would say: stabilizing Iraq is an Islamic duty and bringing peace to Afghanistan is part of the survival of the Islamic umma," or community.
So please tell me, how are we supposed to help build something decent and self-sustaining in Afghanistan and Pakistan when jihadists murder other Muslims by the dozens and no one really calls them out?
A corrosive mind-set has taken hold since 9/11. It says that Arabs and Muslims are only objects, never responsible for anything in their world, and we are the only subjects, responsible for everything that happens in their world. We infantilize them.
Arab and Muslims are not just objects. They are subjects. They aspire to, are able to and must be challenged to take responsibility for their world. If we want a peaceful, tolerant region more than they do, they will hold our coats while we fight, and they will hold their tongues against their worst extremists. They will lose, and we will lose - here and there, in the real Afghanistan and in the Virtual Afghanistan.
Well, Egypt is building a wall now on its border with Hamastan, and Karen Abu-Zayd, the outgoing Commissioner General of UNRWA, is apparently not happy.
According to Palestine Today, she confirmed that the wall is being built (Egypt is still denying it.) She is claiming that the idea for the wall actually came from the despised George Bush administration.
She broadly implied that the purpose of the wall is for Israel to be able to attack Gaza. I'm not quite sure how that helps Israel except for making it more difficult for Hamas to bring in rockets and bombs. She specifically called the wall "notorious" and said that it "serves only Israel," which is an interesting thing for a UN leader to say.
Evidently, if Egypt wants to build a wall on its own territory, it can and is going to be castigated by the UN. And the reason is because it is perceived as helping Israel, which is automatically bad in the eyes of some UN agencies.
Yesterday, I met a fascinating woman who works for the UN, who is Jewish and was born in the Ivory Coast. She had some very interesting stories about anti-semitism at the UN that she sees up close because her coworkers do not know that she is an observant Jew. (One story even involves an attempt on her life in an area far away from Israel.) One thing she mentioned was that when Karen Abu Zayd became head of UNRWA, she asked her for a job. Abu Zayd answered that she was only going to hire Palestinians.
This explains a lot.
dinsdag 15 december 2009
Release date December 14, 2009
European funding for "refusal" propaganda in high schools
· According to the Minister of Education, Gideon Sa'ar, "It is impossible that there will be preaching for draft-dodging or against enlistment in the IDF in our schools."
· New Profile is also an active member of the NIF-funded Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), an umbrella group that also includes Machsom Watch, Women in Black, and others. CWP's mission statement emphasizes its commitment "to the struggle to end the occupation; to the full involvement of women in peace negotiations; to an end to the excessive militarization of Israeli society."
Ik zou me bij Abbas' eis dat Israel de bouw in de nederzettingen voor een bepaalde periode volledig stopzet en de wapenstilstandslijnen van 1949 (nogmaals, het zijn geen grenzen) als basis accepteert, iets kunnen voorstellen als hijzelf Israel onomwonden als Joodse staat zou erkennen (oftewel, het Joodse recht op zelfbeschikking in hun historische thuisland) en zou erkennen dat dat niet samengaat met een onbeperkt recht op terugkeer van de vluchtelingen. Maar hijzelf is op dat gebied geen milimeter opgeschoven. Ook weigert hij enige Joodse rechten in Oost-Jeruzalem te erkennen, ondanks het feit dat hier een aantal belangrijke Joodse plaatsen en heiligdommen liggen, en hier al Joden woonden voordat er moslims waren.
Last update - 00:00 15/12/2009
Abbas to PLO: Return to violence unacceptable
Addressing a meeting of the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Ramallah, he said: "What is required of us ... a return to violence? I won't accept it."
He also told the PLO lesgislature that he would resume suspended peace talks with Israel if it halts settlement building "for a specific period" and recognizes the pre-1967 borders as a basis for a Palestinian state.
"When Israel stops settlement activity for a specific period and when it recognizes the borders we are calling for, and these are the legal borders, there would be nothing to prevent us from going to negotiations to complete what we agreed to at Annapolis," Abbas said.
The Palestinian president said he was not setting terms but simply reiterating Israel's obligations under the "road map" agreement for talks.
The PLO began a two-day meeting on Tuesday, during which it is expected to extend Abbas' term as president.
The PLO Central Council was also expected to back his opposition to re-starting negotiations with Israel unless it first halts all West Bank settlement building, leaving the "peace process" frozen.
Abbas's presidency of the Palestinian Authority expires on Jan. 25. An election to choose his successor was canceled after the Islamist Hamas movement said it would prohibit voting in the Gaza Strip, which it controls.
The PLO's Central Council, convening in Ramallah in the West Bank, has the authority to extend the president's term.
The Fatah movement, which dominates the PLO and is led by Abbas, has called on him to stay in office until elections can be held in Gaza as well as the West Bank. Abbas has made it clear he will not seek a second term.
Hamas, which is not part of the PLO, has said any extension of Abbas' term would be illegitimate. The Islamist movement says his term expired nearly a year ago. Unlike Abbas and the PLO, who are ready to negotiate a treaty with Israel, Hamas remains committed to armed struggle against the Jewish state.
The U.S.-backed Abbas, 74, has built his career around trying to negotiate a permanent peace with Israel.
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST
But it was an expression of what is right with it.
It begins here.
It begins in a city which practices what Jerusalem preaches
And what Jerusalem, with its vicious holy men, betrays:
in the faces of thousands of people marching in the street
in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
in the face of a little girl dancing on the shoulders of her father to music played on a pensive oud and a goblet drum
and to music played on a jacked electric guitar and a trombone
"God doesn't make mistakes."
It was supposed to rain.
No one was likely to show up.
My foot was broken.
From the square where Yitzhak Rabin sang publicly for the first time, and was then killed,
What they began to chant
Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies
But it was an expression of what is right with it.
My 15-year old daughter answers without hesitation. "Has v'shalom." Heaven Forbid.
Who treat land as sacred, and people not theirs, as dirt:
My war with you is over.
My enemy today is the word Never.
Not the Jerusalem of murderous faith and a vengeful God
But in a city which faces God because it faces the world.
"This is a taste of the World to Come," my wife says, the crowd swaying to music, other peoples and their own.
"This country is too young to die.
I declare the war is over."
Next year in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Dec 14, 2009 13:24 | Updated Dec 14, 2009 18:57
Haniyeh: Gaza just a step toward liberation of all Palestine
By AP, KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND JPOST.COM STAFF
In a long, defiant speech on Monday afternoon, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that gaining control of the Gaza Strip was "just a step toward liberating all of Palestine."
"This movement liberated the Gaza Strip with the help of the militant factions," said Haniyeh, referring to terrorist groups operating under the umbrella of Palestinian resistance.
"Brothers and sisters, we will not be satisfied with Gaza," he declared. "Hamas looks toward the whole of Palestine."
Israel Radio quoted Hamas sources as saying that captured IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit would only see the light of day when Israel acquiesces to the terrorist group's demands and frees the prisoners whose release it has demanded.
Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters thronged downtown Gaza City Monday to mark the 22nd anniversary of the group's founding. Gaza was decked out in Islamic green, with Hamas flags fluttering from rooftops, lampposts and cars. Some parents dressed small children in combat fatigues and green Hamas headbands.
The crowd packed an outdoor square where a huge banner draped over the wall of a building showed a picture of Jerusalem's main Islamic shrine and photos of senior Hamas figures.
Leaders made impassioned speeches, bands played and scout troops marched in processions.
"Gaza is free. Gaza is steadfast," shouted an all-male singing troupe, whose members wore military camouflage. Haniyeh exuberantly waved Palestinian and Hamas flags to the crowd as he took the stage.
The group called on the Palestinians to expect "surprises" during the rally, sparking speculation that its leaders may exploit the event to announce a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel.
Hamas' radio and TV stations exhorted Gazans to attend the mass rally after Muslim midday prayers.