A poster for a Zionist film screened in the 1930's to Jews in Hungary and Romania
"It's peculiar, it's paradoxical, that Sharon and Likud should be the ones who are trying to equate any authentic resistance in Palestine with some of the terrorist activities, as terrorism in Israel really started with Begin and Shamir and later Sharon," says Clovis Maksoud, the former Arab League ambassador to the United Nations. "It's a very valid question as to why they see no similarities between themselves under the British and the Palestinians under their occupation." Especially, he adds, as the Israeli government supports museums that honor assassins and terrorists including one located on a street named for a terrorist.
From the Irv Rubin Bust To The Stern Gang -The Rich History Of Jewish Terrorism
While anti-Semitism, broadly speaking, may go all the way back to the Egyptian historian Manetho, anti-Jewish polemics by Christians began in the Patristic period (end of first century through the eighth). Here you mainly find the argument that the Church has replaced Israel and the Jews as God's people: "The Jews, because of their stiff-necked rejection of the Christ, have in turn been rejected by God. The mantle has passed from Jew to Christian. Christians are the new 'chosen people.' The Church is the New Israel. '"
Propaganda turned to actual repression during the principate of Constantine (d. 337), who appointed bishops as civil servants, judges, administrators, and bureaucrats. Christianity became wedded to the secular power of Rome.
As you consider the record of Christian dealings with Jews throughout the Middle Ages and down to the birth of Zionism at the end of the nineteenth century, keep in mind that many of the events mentioned were done legally: that is, they were sanctioned by civil authority or religious authority and often both.
Timeline of European persecution of the Jews
The formation of of Isreal
Geo-Political ambitions turn Homeland into 'security state'
Zionism, the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. Jews of all persuasions, left and right, religious and secular, joined to form the Zionist movement and worked together toward these goals. Disagreements led to rifts, but ultimately, the common goal of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland was attained. The term "Zionism" was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum.
Jews who criticize or oppose Zionism are usually Orthodox and maintain that Israel can only be regained miraculously. They view the present state as a blasphemous human attempt to usurp Gd's role, and they work to dismantle Israel. However, unlike many gentile antiZionists, they firmly believe in the Jewish right to Israel, but only at that future time of redemption. The bestknown of the religious antiZionists are the Neturei Karta.
Two common religious grounds are typically given for antiZionism. One is that today's Zionism is a secular Zionism, packed with nonJewish influences, and lacking key features like Moshiach and the rebuilt Temple. Adherents to this position are more on the nonZionist rather than antiZionist side. The other reason is that the Talmud (Meseches Kesuvos, 111a), as part of a discussion of certain Torah verses mentioning oaths, states that when Israel went into the second exile, there were three vows between Heaven and Earth:
1. Israel would not "go up like a wall" [conquer Eretz Yisrael by massive force].
2. Gd made Israel swear that they would not rebel against the nations of the world [would obey the governments in the exile].
3. Gd made the nonJews swear not to oppress Israel "too much" [translation of phrase yoter midai].
Anti-Zionism Among Jews
The big threat in the Middle East is Israel, not Iraq
by John Pilger - May 27 2001 - Z Mag
As George Bush escalates the new cold war begun by his father, the attention of his planners is moving to the Middle East. Stories about the threat of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" are again appearing in the American press, this time concentrating on Saddam Hussein's "new nuclear capability". These are refuted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors have found no evidence that Iraq, in its devastated state, has a nuclear weapons programme.
The distraction, however, is vital. The only weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East are in Israel, an American protectorate. What is not being reported is that, as Israel's hawks fail to put down the Palestinian uprising, their leader, Ariel Sharon, may well remove the country's nuclear arsenal from its nominal strategy of "last resort".
This prospect is raised in the current Covert Action Quarterly (www.covertactionquarterly. org), by John Steinbach, a nuclear specialist whose previous work includes the mapping of deadly radiation hazards in the United States. He quotes Israel's former president Ezer Weizman: "The nuclear issue is gaining momentum [and the] next war will not be conventional." From the 1950s, writes Steinbach, "the US was training Israeli nuclear scientists and providing nuclear-related technology, including a small 'research' reactor in 1955 under the 'Atoms for Peace' program". It was France that built a uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing plant in the Negev desert, called Dimona. The Israelis lied that it was "a manganese plant, or a textile factory". In return for uranium, Israel supplied South Africa with the technology and expertise that allowed the white supremacist regime to build the "apartheid bomb".
In 1979, when US satellite photographs revealed the atmospheric test of a nuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa, Israel's involvement, writes Steinbach, "was quickly whitewashed by a carefully selected scientific panel, kept in the dark about important details". Israeli sources have since revealed "there were actually three tests of miniaturised Israeli nuclear artillery shells".
It was at Dimona that the heroic Mordechai Vanunu worked as a technician. A supporter of Palestinian rights, Vanunu believed it was his duty to warn the world about the danger Israel posed. In 1986, he smuggled out photographs showing that the plant was producing enough plutonium to make 10 to 12 bombs a year, and that at least 200 miniaturised bombs had been built. Vanunu was subsequently lured to Rome from London by Mossad, the Israeli dirty tricks agency. Beaten and drugged, he was kidnapped to Israel, where a secret security court sentenced him to 18 years in prison, 12 of which were spent in solitary confinement, in a cell barely big enough for him to stand.
Steinbach says that, whatever "deterrent effect" the founders of the Israeli nuclear programme may have intended, "today, the nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy". While Israel has ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow, and has reportedly launched a submarine-based cruise missile, "a staple of the arsenal are neutron bombs [which are] miniaturised thermonuclear bombs designed to maximise deadly gamma radiation while minimising blast effects and long-term radiation - in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact".
These are the same "limited" nuclear weapons the Reagan administration seriously considered using in Europe and which Ariel Sharon's zealots may use as a "demonstration" that they have no intention of relinquishing the occupied territories.
"Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches," said Sharon before he became prime minister. Steinbach says such a threat could be used to compel the Bush administration to act exclusively in Israel's favour were it to waver in the face of growing international support for the intifada. Francis Perrin, the former head of the French nuclear weapons programme, wrote: "We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, 'If you don't want to help us in a critical situation [when we] require you to help us . . . we will use our nuclear bombs'."
Israel used this blackmail during the 1973 war with Egypt, forcing Richard Nixon to resupply its badly shaken military. The Israeli nuclear threat is seldom raised in this country, in parliament and the media, and is a non-issue in the United States. This is in line with a news agenda on Palestine that is still set by Israel. However, since the election of Sharon, who has presided over massacres of Palestinian civilians since 1953, this may be changing. Television pictures from Gaza and the West Bank ought to leave little doubt that Israel is a terrorist state, with a policy of state murder.
One of the most impressive critics of his own government I met in Israel more than 25 years ago is Israel Shahak, then professor of organic chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Bergen-Belsen death camp. As Israeli society becomes more and more polarised, Shahak's courage and wisdom endure. Three years ago, he said: "The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is." He added this prophecy, of which all but one element has so far proved correct: "Israel is preparing for war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking [and is] clearly prepared to use, for the purpose, all means available, including nuclear ones."
"I was in the Jenin refugee camp of the West Bank in April 2002, during the immediate aftermath of the IDF operation "Enduring Storm."
I walked through the remains of 100 three-story buildings that had been destroyed. I watched as young boys with faces as somber as old men helped their fathers carry corpses pulled from the rubble, while IDF snipers positioned on roofs shot over their heads. More pacification? I don't know.
Afterward I talked with Israeli soldiers. One young soldier said "I was only doing my job." Another said, "I was just following orders." Then I glanced at an older Israeli soldier and we both winced.
We'd heard these words before."
Pacification: Worth the Price?
UN court to rule 'against Israel'
The International Court of Justice in The Hague is understood to have decided that Israel's West Bank barrier is illegal and should be removed.
Leaked reports ahead of the ruling, due at 1300GMT, say the court will call on the United Nations to consider what further action is required.
Israel insists the barrier is needed to keep out West Bank militants, but the Palestinians consider it a land grab.
The court's ruling is not binding, but can serve as a basis for UN action.
According to a leaked copy of the report, seen by Reuters and reported in the Israeli press, the court has decided the construction of the barrier is against international law.
The current route of the barrier cannot be justified for military needs, the leaked report says.
"The wall, along the route chosen, and its associated regime, gravely infringe a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the territory occupied by Israel, and the infringements resulting from that route cannot be justified by military exigencies or by the requirements of national security or public order," the leaked report says. -BBC
World Court condemns West Bank barrier
Often used by the Western media to describe a Palestinian who detonates explosives strapped to his or her body. Such a Palestinian does not see this as an act of suicide, which is prohibited by Islam. Rather, it is seen as a legitimate means of defense on the part of an occupied people and, as such, worthy of Islam's most exalted honor, that of martyr. Palestinians speak of a "martyrdom operation" as opposed to "suicide bombing."
Martyr (in Arabic, Shadid). In religious terms, a witness to one's faith, including one who witnesses with his or her death (martyrdom). In political terms, one who dies in the struggle for freedom and is honored as a hero
Middle East Issues - Palestinian Suicide Bombers
INSIDE THE WORLD OF THE PALESTINIAN SUICIDE BOMBER
Understanding Terror: The "Sacrificial" Bases Of Palestinian Suicide Bombers
Who are the suicide bombers? BBC
Amnesty condemns attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers
Suicide and Other Bombing Attacks in Israel Since the Declaration of Principles -Sept 1993-
Why do they do it, and what does Islam say about their actions?
|No.1 : Hamas leader assassinated:
appoints new leader
Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed in an Israeli airstrike Monday morning as he was leaving a Gaza City mosque.
Seven others were killed in the strike, Palestinian officials said. Sixteen people were wounded in the attack, including two of Yassin's sons; seven of the wounded were in critical condition, hospital spokesmen said.
|No.2 : Hamas leader assassinated:
Secretly appoints new leader
Rantizi in 2003
Israel assassinated Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi in a missile strike on his car Saturday, part of its declared campaign to wipe out the Islamic militant group's leadership ahead of a planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Two of Rantisi's bodyguards were also killed.
April 18, 2004
No.3 :Israel Assassinates The Leader Of Hamas In Gaza City
The Israel Air Force assassinated a high-level Hamas leader and his companion while they rode on a motor bike through the Zeitoun district of Gaza City on Saturday night.
A helicopter gunship fired two missiles, one targeting the motor-bike, and the other another member of Hamas.
Seven civilians were wounded in the attack, including a woman and two children.
The Israel Defense Force confirmed the attack, naming Wa'al Nasser, the 31 year old leader of Hamas in Gaza City, as their target. A spokesman said Nasser had directed numerous attacks against Israelis, among them the suicide attack carried out by a female suicide bomber on January 14, 2004.
Monday 31st May, 2004
"President Bush has effectively told the world that what Israel has taken by force from the Palestinians is now acceptable. This is a roadmap to war," he added in a statement Thursday signed by more than a dozen churches united as the Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).
In a letter to Prime Minister Sharon, who visited Washington on Wednesday, Bush assented to the Israeli leader's plan to withdraw all settlements from the disputed Gaza Strip while retaining larger settlements in the West Bank -- the first time a U.S. president has ignored that the lands have been the subject of legal contention since they were seized by Israel in 1967.
Bush also backed Sharon's assertion that any returning refugees must settle in territory now occupied by Palestinians and would have no claim on land seized by Israel since they left the country.
Blair said Thursday that the roadmap is still valid, but echoed the argument of Sharon and Bush that "changes on the ground" made Sharon's new plan imperative.
Bush-Sharon Deal a 'Roadmap to War', Says Peace Group
"The Palestinians will 'have to accept as facts' two principles which they wanted to be the subject of negotiations.
One is the permanence of major Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
The other is that Palestinian refugees from earlier wars will not be allowed back into what is now Israel.
This is a major blow for the Palestinians, as Mr Sharon, in candid remarks before he left for Washington, said "it was designed to be." "
In depth BBC guide
Israeli missiles hit Gaza targets
Monday, 17 May, 2004
Israeli helicopter gunships have attacked Palestinian buildings in Gaza City for a third consecutive night.
Missiles hit offices run by Yasser Arafat's Fatah Movement and a building used by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Both of the sites, which Israel said were used for "terrorist activity", were empty when the missiles struck.
The raid came after Israel said it was pressing on with plans to destroy hundreds of homes in southern Gaza.
The Israeli military says Palestinian militants have used them as shelter from which to attack troops patrolling the border with Egypt and as cover to smuggle weapons through tunnels from Egypt.
Israel launches Gaza offensive:
Tuesday, 18 May, 2004
Israeli tanks and bulldozers have been moving into part of the Rafah refugee camp as the army begins a new offensive against Palestinian militants.
Palestinians say overnight 13 people died in missile strikes and fighting.
Thousands of panicking residents have been fleeing, fearing that the Israelis will demolish more homes in the camp.
Israel's operations have caused an international outcry, but the Israelis say their aim is to attack militants and destroy arms-smuggling tunnels.
The Israeli military says the operation - which it has dubbed Operation Rainbow - is not a hit-and-run mission but will continue as long as necessary to achieve its aims.
Palestinian officials have called for more international pressure on Israel to stop what they describe as an escalation in Rafah camp.
"After drawing an outcry from the four corners of the globe, Israel's onslaught on the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah was condemned by an Israeli minister as "not humane," and making Israel "looks like monsters to the rest of the world".
Israeli Justice Minister Tommy Lapid told the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, May 23, that Israel's "demolition of houses in Rafah must stop. It is not humane, not Jewish, and causes us grave damage in the world," reported Ha'aretz.
"At the end of the day, they'll kick us out of the United Nations, try those responsible in the international court in The Hague, and no one will want to speak with us," the Israeli daily quoted him as warning."
"I was in the United States last week, and I noticed that we look like monsters to the rest of the world," Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Lapid as saying.
The justice minister dismissed as "crazy" Israel's plan "to destroy 2,000 to 3,000 homes in Rafah."
"When I saw the images on television of an old Palestinian woman on her knees in the process of looking for her medication in the debris that was once her home, it reminded me of my grandmother," Lapid told Israel's military radio.
His grandmother was reportedly killed in Germany during the reign of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Lapid was fiercely attacked by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who accused him of feeding the "anti-Israeli propaganda machine," said AFP.
Israeli Minister Says Rafah Demolitions 'Not Humane'
BBC Rafah picture gallery
"Days of Penitence": Many Palestinians Killed in Deadliest Israeli Offensive in Gaza Since Intifada|
Sharon threatens to kill Arafat
18 September 2004 -
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this week made a clear threat to assassinate Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in an interview to mark the Jewish New Year holiday.
Sharon reiterated an earlier threat to expel Arafat from the Palestinian territories at a convenient time. But he went on to stress that he saw no difference between Arafat and Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in March, and Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, who was killed the following month.
He told the Israeli press, We took action against Ahmed Yassin and Abdelaziz Rantisi and a few other murderers when we thought the time was right. On the matter of Arafat we will operate in the same way, when we find the convenient and suitable time. One needs to find the time and to do what has to be done. -
A Palenstian diplomat accused the Israelis yesterday of poisoning Yasser Arafat.
"The doctors until now could not diagnose precisely what is wrong with him, but it is believed there is a poison," Ali Kazak, who heads the Palestinian delegation to Australia, told the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne.
"It could be poison because they have checked everything, and his body is in good health, there is no cancer, it is not leukemia."
Arafat's doctor, Ashraf Kurdi, told the Al Jazeera satellite TV network that, "Arafat's health condition makes poisoning a strong possibility."
Israelis, who gave Arafat safe passage from his West Bank compound to a French military hospital last week, denied the charge.
"It's absolute nonsense; it's completely ridiculous," an Israeli government source said. Kurdi has not yet diagnosed Arafat's mysterious blood ailment, and last night the 75-year-old Palestinian leader was hovering "between life and death."
"He is in a coma," Leila Shahid, the Palestinian envoy to France, said. "We don't know the type, but it's a reversible coma. He may or may not wake up. All vital organs are functioning."
But other Arafat aides insisted their 75-year-old leader was brain dead and on life support. They said his wife, Suha, is weighing whether to pull the plug. -
What ails Arafat?
Who Will Replace Yasser Arafat?
Suha blasted over 'deathbed coup' claim |
Palestinians let rip at Yasser Arafat's wife Suha yesterday after she alleged his top lieutenants were plotting a deathbed coup, accusing her of abandoning the nationalist struggle for the boutiques of Paris.The bottle-blonde Suha, who is 34 years younger than the 75-year-old Palestinian leader, had not even seen her husband for nearly three years before flying to his West Bank headquarters late last month and then accompanying him to France for urgent medical care.
But Suha has rarely strayed from her husband's bedside since his admission on October 29 to the Percy Military Hospital on the outskirts of Paris, where he has been in a coma since the middle of last week.
In an emotional appeal to the Palestinian people, Suha said that "a handful of (people) seeking to inherit power are coming to Paris to try and bury Abu Ammar (Arafat) alive. I ask you to look at the extent of the plot."
Gulf Daily News
Focus: Mrs. Arafat's rantings are more than just about money
Flashback: French prosecutors are probing alleged transfers totalling millions of dollars to bank accounts held by the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, judicial officials said yesterday.The preliminary probe, opened by the Paris prosecutor's office in October, is looking into a total of nine million euros....Gulf Daily News
...there were signs of poisoning in some of Arafat's medical examination results. These signs were not conclusive because Arafat was poisoned from a distance, this made the effect of the poison on his body very slow.
He repeated, the poisoning of Arafat in his old age, under a terrible siege and in the unhealthy situation in Ramallah headquarters, where the Israeli occupation had jailed him since over three years, all had a negative result on his health, and helped to make his poisoning inconspicuous.
The Palestinians said that the PA officers and French officers discussed about the various cases of Radiation Poisoning murders among Arab personalities. According to the article, Palestinian officers received a report from the Russian Intelligences in which it shows that the U.S. were the first ones to use radiation poisoning to kill Palestinian leader Wadia Hadad and later Algerian President Hawari Abu Midden.
The Americans also used radiation poisoning to kill another Arab President, (they mean Hafez Al-Assad) who was said to have been poisoned from a distance by former U.S Foreign Minster Madeleine Albright. According to the reports, she killed the President during her last meeting with him.
Arafat health records stay private
A Zionist race war?
Zionism Promotes Anti-Semitism [????]
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the founder of modern Zionism, recognized that anti-Semitism would further his cause, the creation of a separate state for Jews. To solve the Jewish Question, he maintained 'we must, above all, make it an international political issue.'
Herzl wrote that Zionism offered the world a welcome 'final solution of the Jewish question.' In his 'Diaries', page 19, Herzl stated 'Anti-Semites will become our surest friends, anti-Semitic countries our allies.'
Zionist reliance on Anti-Semitism to further their goals continues to this day. Studies of immigration records reflect increased immigration to the Zionist state during times of increased anti-Semitism. Without a continued inflow of Jewish immigrants to the state of "Israel", it is estimated that within a decade the Jewish population of the Zionist state will become the minority.
In order to maintain a Jewish majority in the state of "Israel", its leaders promote anti-Semitism throughout the world to "encourage" Jews to leave their homelands and seek "refuge". - jews against zionism
"The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis and bound by a treaty with the German Reich would be in the interests of strengthening the future German position of power in the Near East ... The NMO in Palestine offers to take an active part in the war on Germany's side ... The cooperation of the Israeli freedom movement would also be in line with one of the recent speeches of the German Reich Chancellor, in which Herr Hitler stressed that any combination and any alliance would be entered into in order to isolate England and defeat it." - from the writings of the Lehi ['Stern gang' pronounced "Le-Chi"]
The Zionist state
Forward from The Ansar Code
Holocaust Denial is Wrong and Injures a Righteous Palestinian Cause -
A Zionist race war?
"France has been deeply shocked by an anti-Semitic attack on a young mother on a suburban train, days after President Jacques Chirac appealed to the French people to take a stand against racism." - Independant|
"The French woman who falsely claimed she had been the victim of an anti-Semitic attack has been ordered to stand trial...
She has admitted having invented the story of the attack by a gang of North Africans on a Paris suburban train." - BBC
"Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's remarks Sunday produced a storm of rebuke after he said French Jews were under threat by the nation's much larger Muslim community and should leave." -
Ten years ago, on Oct. 4, 1992, an Israeli cargo jet carrying three of the four components of the nerve gas Sarin, as well as other hazardous materials, crashed into an apartment building in Holland.
The known facts of the crash of El Al Flight 1862, the worst air disaster in Dutch history, reveal that Holland's government engaged in a 'huge cover-up' and lied to its citizens to help conceal Israel's unlawful chemical weapons arsenal and the international network that supports it.
The Israeli cargo plane, a Boeing 747-200F, with three crewmen, one non-paying passenger and 114 tons of freight, left Amsterdam's Schiphol airport at 6:21 p.m. en route to Tel Aviv. Seven minutes later, both starboard engines ripped loose from the wing. The pilot circled back to attempt an emergency landing and crashed into a high-rise apartment complex in Bijlmer, 10 miles east of Schiphol.
The Israeli government was finally compelled to admit that the jet had been carrying 190 liters of DMPP, a crucial component of Sarin.
Sarin, 20 times as lethal as cyanide, kills by crippling the nervous system and was used in a terror attack on the Tokyo underground system that killed six passengers and injured more than 3,000.
In 1992, any revelation that the U.S. was supplying Israel with the components to make chemical weapons was played down, because alleged Iraqi development of chemical weapons has been used for propaganda purposes to justify U.S. aggression against Iraq.
- Christopher Bollyn
Experiments on human guinea pigs uncovered in Israel
12th May, 2005 - A major investigation has uncovered a range of medical experiments being carried out in Israel on human beings, mainly mental patients, the elderly, and children. Israel's State Comptroller and Ombudsman has issued a damning report which has shocked the country's health minister. The report discloses a wave of experiments on people without consent or proper authorisation. Drug tests were conducted on child patients without the knowledge of parents, the report disclosed. Psychiatric patients were targeted, and geriatric hospitals.
Many Israelis are outraged at the revelations having spent decades decrying similar practices carried out by the Nazis during the second World War.
In one case the State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Eliezer Goldberg, outlined how 40 geriatric patients had scribbled signatures on consent forms despite the fact they were suffering from mental illnesses or dementia. One of the signatures was a finger print.
A spokesman for Health Minister Danny Naveh said his boss was shocked by the report. He told reporters the Israeli parliament was looking at legislatation to shore up the entire health system. Big News Network.com
Why Human experiments???
"Ethno-Bombs": Warnings were raised a decade ago
In 1993, RAFI, Rural Advancement Foundation International, now the ETC Group - Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration,21 raised concerns that the gathering of human genetic material by, among other organizations, the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) could make feasible the development of ethnically targeted viruses.
RAFI's executive director, Pat Roy Mooney wrote: "Not since we warned, at the beginning of the 1980s, that herbicide manufacturers were buying seed companies in order to develop plant varieties that liked their chemicals, has RAFI borne the brunt of so much abuse.
But in 1996, Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, the British Medical Association's (BMA) Head of Science and Ethics told a congress of the World Medical Association that ethnically targeted genetic weapons were now possible, and she cited as example the possibility of designing an agent that could sterilize or pass on a lethal hereditary defect in specific ethnic groups.
In 1999, the BMA issued a report called Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity, which warned that genetic knowledge could be misused to develop weapons aimed at specific ethnic groups. The executive summary, available online, stated:
Over the last few decades rapid advances in molecular biology have allowed the heritable material (DNA) of different organisms to be interchanged. The Human Genome Project and the Human Genetic Diversity Projects are allowing the identification of human genetic coding and differences in normal genetic material between different ethnic groups.
During the review conferences on the BTWC, an increasing level of concern has been expressed by national governments over the potential use of genetic knowledge in the development of a new generation of biological and toxin weapons.
Legitimate research into microbiological agents, relating both to the development of agents for use in, for example agriculture, or to improve the medical response to disease causing agents, may be difficult to distinguish from research with the malign purpose of producing more effective weapons.
Research that could be used to develop ethnic weapons has historically been based upon natural susceptibilities, or upon the absence of vaccination within a target group. Genetic engineering of biological agents, to make them more potent, has been carried out covertly for some years, but not as an overt step to produce more effective weapons. In genetic terms there are more similarities between different people and peoples than there are differences. But the differences exist, and may singly or in combination distinguish the members of one social group (an "ethnic" group) from another.
Israel: CBW program finds genetic differences between Arabs and Jews
On November 15, 1998, the Sunday Times of London ran a front page article reporting that the Israelis were planning an ethnic bomb.41 The article stated that the Israelis were trying to identify distinctive genes carried by some Arabs, particularly Iraqis. "The intention is to use the ability of viruses and certain bacteria to alter the DNA inside their host's living cells. The scientists are trying to engineer deadly microorganisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes."
The article reported that the program was based at Nes Tziyona, Israel's main biological and chemical weapons research facility, and that an unnamed scientist there said that while the common Semitic origin of Arabs and Jews complicated the task, "They have, however, succeeded in pinpointing a particular characteristic in the genetic profile of certain Arab communities, particularly the Iraqi people." The report also quoted Dedi Zucker, a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) as saying, "Morally, based on our history, and our tradition and our experience, such a weapon is monstrous and should be denied."
Israel has never signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
- from the wilderness
The reported existence of the Israeli ethnic bullet will almost predictably trigger a gene weapons arms race in the Middle East. Worse still the research and development of such weapons can be carried out in amazingly small facilities that are next to impossible to monitor. Perhaps most ominously, the "science" of genetically specific bioweapons is still in its infancy and no one knows if breakthroughs might reduce the cost of their production to the point that small and extremely malevolent groups such as the neo-Nazis may attempt to bring about a new Final Solution. - Genetic Bullets - Ethnically
Real Politik: Are the US using Isreali security fears
to garner support for attacks on Iran, Syria and others?
food for thought:|
FBI sent money to terror group
By John Solomon in Washington
WHILE President Bill Clinton was trying to broker an elusive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the FBI was secretly funnelling money to suspected Hamas figures to see if the militant group would use it for terrorist attacks, according to interviews and court documents.
The counter-terrorism operation in 1998 and 1999 was run out of the FBI's Phoenix office in co-operation with Israeli intelligence and was approved by then attorney-general Janet Reno, FBI officials told The Associated Press.
Several thousand dollars in US money was sent to suspected terror supporters during the operation as the FBI tried to track the flow of cash through terror organisations, the FBI said in a rare acknowledgment of an undercover sting that never resulted in prosecutions.
"This was done in conjunction with permission from the attorney-general for an ongoing operation, and Israeli authorities were aware of it," the bureau said.
The FBI said the money was given through one of its operative's charities to see if it would be diverted for terrorism.
Arming the Occupation: Israel and the Arms Trade
Arms sales to Israel are helping to prolong the conflict by supporting a highly militarised state and exacerbating an already volatile situation thereby hindering the development of a peaceful solution.
By continuing to sell weapons and components for weapons, and continuing to buy weapons from Israeli companies, Western governments are giving tacit moral approval to Israel's actions in the occupied territories.
EU and UN resolutions which criticise Israel's heavy-handed tactics are not enough. It is time to take action by introducing a two-way ban on exports and imports.
Since September 2001, the IDF has used US-made Apache and Cobra helicopters and F-16s to attack Palestinian homes, buildings and emergency services in the West Bank and Gaza.
In its 2001 Human Rights Report, the US State Department declared these actions an "excessive use of force".29 From December 2000 to August 2002, the Israeli army used Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, tanks and booby-trapped cars to assassinate 82 Palestinian activists and militants; 31 bystanders were killed in the process.30 Such "extra-judicial killings" are outlawed under the Geneva Convention
Israel 'ready' to strike Iran If Russia supplies Islamic state with rods for enriching uranium
Posted: July 18, 2004 By Aaron Klein
Israel has conducted military exercises for a pre-emptive strike against several of Iran's nuclear power facilities and is ready to attack if Russia supplies Iran with rods for enriching uranium, Israeli officials told reporters.
An Israeli defense source in Tel Aviv told the London Sunday Times, which first published the story, that "Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help to go critical."
The source was also quoted as saying that any strike on Iran's reactors would probably be carried out by long-range F-15I jets, flying over Turkey, with simultaneous operations by commandos on the ground. - more
The Book Of Daniel|
A dream of 4 beasts (lion with eagles' wings, bear, leopard with four wings like a bird, and a terrible
beast with 10 horns, which later became 8 horns). Again, these four animals each symbolized an earthly
The vision of a powerful ram and a male goat who fight each other. The goat conquers the ram.
A prayer of confession to, and trust in, God.
A momentous vision of Israel's future, leading to the end of the age some 1,335 days later.
Some of the dead will awake "to everlasting life and some to the reproach of eternal abhorrence.
The wise leaders will shine like the bright vault of heaven, and those who have guarded the
people in the true path will be like the stars for ever and ever."
This implies a resurrection
of the dead, a judgement and transfer of the resurrected Jews to heaven or hell. -
Book Of Daniel
"And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."
Revelation 13. verse 2.
"Here, John brings his description of the beast firmly into the latter half of the 20th Century. In verse 2
of Revelation 13, John is describing the land of Greater Europe. The leopard has always been the beast
associated with greater Germany, and here John tells us that the beast, this great land mass is like a
leopard, but has the feet of a bear. The bear has always been Russia, and if one takes a map of greater
Europe and turns it sideways, it can be seen that the within the body of Europe, the leopard is greater
Germany, the feet Russia, and looking to the head of the beast, John describes its mouth as the mouth of
a lion. The lion is of course, the symbol of Great Britain. It is almost as if John has seen a map of greater
Europe, and has then described the parameters of this huge land mass in 20th Century terms. " -
The cassandra Prophecy
Daniel & the lions|
They reminded the king of his proclamation and royal law. The king replied, Yes, that is a strict order,
a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed. (Dan. 6: 12) No sooner were the words out
of Darius mouth than these other officials accused Daniel of violating the law. The king tried to find
a way to rescue Daniel, a valuable and trusted servant of the empire. Daniels accusers reminded Darius
that the law couldnt be changed.
King Darius relented and had Daniel arrested and thrown into the pit of lions. The king had a large stone put
over the mouth of the pit and put his royal seal on the entrance. No one would be able to rescue Daniel.
The king was greatly distressed and spent a sleepless night, refusing all food and entertainment.
Early in the morning, the king ran to the pit and called out, Daniel, servant of the living God! Was the
God you serve so loyally able to save you from the lions? (Dan. 6: 20) Daniel praised his king and replied,
God sent his angel to shut the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. He did this because he
knew that I was innocent (Dan. 6: 22) -
The Daniel Project - Pre-emptive Policy for religious conquest?
The National Security Strategy of the United States of America on September 20, 2002, US President George W. Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom in March of the following year. The results of that war, still substantially unclear at the time of this writing, derive from a greatly broadened American assertion of the right of unilateral preemption. A conceptual and implemented right, it expands the binding and well-established customary prerogative of ?Anticipatory Self-Defense?a under international law. Although there have as yet been no subsequent legal codifications of this new American expansion, the precedent established by the world?s only remaining Great Power is certain to impact the actual policy behavior of other states. Not surprisingly, many in the international community have criticized this new policy. Yet history is replete with examples where nations have correctly reserved unto themselves the right of preemption when they have determined that their vital national interests, or very existence, were under threat.
In short, whether or not the presumptively expanded right of striking-first as self-defense will soon become a generally accepted norm of authoritative international law, this right will, in practice, likely acquire enhanced credibility and legitimacy.
Project Daniel - The Isreali pre-emptive doctrine
Does Isreal believe it has to survive in a den of Lions?
If so, who are the Lions...?
Iran, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia?
What of those that seek to undermine, for their own geo-political Neo-fascist Religous plans?
The U.S.A - Blueblood Presidents controlled by bloodline corporate elites via their Cartel based Global Capitalism.
The U.K. - The Queen and the order of the masonic elites, Suppliers of Corporate Intelligence, Owners of the
American Money sham that has built the new Corporate Empire...and maintained the Social divide in her badly disguised colonies
The Vatican - The Jesuit infiltrated the US/EU think-tanks which advise, dictate foreign policy and stategy,
who along with the IMF / WTO / WHO and the Queens charities, help destroy Third World / poor dissent via control
of charity resources and religious brainwashing via emotional torture as blackmail.
Is Isreal pulling strings or being controlled?
Being set up for a fall?
US to send duff missile defense program to Isreal? Will this leave them open to attack?
(July-August 1994) The need for the American-Israeli Arrow ballistic missile interceptor program stems from
the wide and growing variety of cruise and ballistic missiles held by Israel's hostile neighbors including
Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. According to an Israeli industry source, the missiles that threaten Israel
include the Chinese M-9 in Syria, Scud-C ballistic missiles in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, the Russian SS-21
in Syria and Iraq, and a new long range missile, perhaps the North Korean No Dong, in all four countries.
The total number of ballistic missiles now threatening Israel is believed to be between 1,200 and 2,000.
The Arrow program will provide Israel with a relatively low cost means to destroy missiles armed with
high explosive, chemical, and biological warheads before their contents can fall on Israel itself.
The joint Israeli-American Arrow II ballistic missile interceptor failed to successfully destroy its target
missile in an otherwise perfect test conducted Friday, August 27, 2004, at the U.S. Navys Point Mugu missile
range in California. Fridays test was the second in a series of full-scale tests of the Arrow Weapon System
(AWS) conducted by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Israeli Missile Defense Organization (MDO)
as part of the Arrow System Improvement Program (ASIP).
Unlike the first test, which gauged the real-world effectiveness of an operational Arrow II battery against
a single-stage SCUD-type threat, the latest trial was a research and development flight designed to test
the systems effectiveness against an inbound ballistic missile with a separating warhead, as well as radar
decoys, the type exemplified by Syrias SCUD-D and Irans Shahab-3 MRBMs. This test marked the thirteenth
overall test of the Arrow II, the eighth test of the complete AWS and the second flight test conducted
in the United States. - source
U.S. troop redeployment - The Juntas empirical global assault
''the f---ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth''
- according to Tommy Franks
Feith the neocon double dealer...
Douglas J. Feith: U.S. troop redeployment will better serve our post-Cold War world
Our new posture will allow us to deploy capable forces rapidly anywhere in the world on short notice.
It will push more military capability forward, while shifting 60,000 to 70,000 service members from
foreign to U.S. bases. It will create a lighter U.S. "footprint" abroad, consolidate scattered facilities,
remedy irritants in our relations with host nations, and, in numerous ways, make it easier for the United
States to work well with allies and friends on military operations -- to train and operate, to develop
military doctrine and tactics, and to exploit new military technologies with them.
The new posture acknowledges (finally) that the Cold War has ended. It anticipates the emergence of new
threats. It recognizes new strategic facts, including the entry of former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO.
And it capitalizes on new technologies.
Dalck Feith [little Dougs' daddy] was a militant in Betar, a Zionist youth movement founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, an admirer of Mussolini. Betar, whose members wore dark brown uniforms and spouted militaristic slogans modeled after other fascistic movements, was associated with the Revisionist Movement, which evolved in Poland to become the Herut Party, which later became the Likud Party.
Douglas Feith and Betar
more of the same from Rightweb
Oil and Islamism
Troops that remain abroad after the withdrawal from Germany and other parts of Western Europe will be
positioned protectively around and within the centers of oil production and distribution in the Middle East,
Caspian Sea and Africa. As demand for oil rapidly grows in China, India and other emerging industrialized
states, the United States is constrained to gain control over energy supplies so that its domestic and
security interests are satisfied. The aim of the United States is to be the protector and, therefore,
beneficiary of the world's largest oil supplies. Whether or not it will be successful in surrounding
oil production with a military net is uncertain, but the decision has been made that attempting to do
so is a top priority.
In addition, U.S. presence in regions that are predominantly Islamic supports local regimes that suppress
Islamists and Islamic revolutionaries. It is reasonable for U.S. security elites to reposition power
resources where threats are emerging and withdraw from regions where there is no threat and, indeed,
there is a consensus on the desirability of a stable global capitalist order.
Pentagon's Feith Again at Center of Disaster
by Jim Lobe
It was his office, for example, that created shortly after 9/11 the Counter Terrorism Evaluation
Group and the Office of Special Plans (OSP) which re-assessed 12 years of raw intelligence and the
Arab press, to find evidence of ties between the regime of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein and
the al-Qaeda terrorist group.
The OSP then ''stovepiped'' that information, unvetted by professional intelligence analysts, straight
to Vice President Dick Cheney's office for use by the White House.
Similarly, it was Feith's office, along with the Defense Policy Group (DPG) whose members Feith appointed,
that served as the point of entry and influence for Iraqi National Congress (INC) chief Ahmed Chalabi
and his ''defectors'' who provided phony intelligence about Hussein's vast stockpiles of weapons of mass
It was Feith's office that was charged with planning the post-war occupation and reconstruction process,
and, in so doing, effectively excluded input from Iraqi experts from the State Department, the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA), and even from the Iraqi-American community, who had participated in a mammoth
project that anticipated most of the problems occupation authorities have since encountered.
And it was Feith's office that also housed the future undersecretary for intelligence, Stephen Cambone,
who facilitated the transfer of Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention
camp that houses suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners, to Abu Ghraib prison in the interests of
extracting more intelligence from detainees there about the fast-growing insurgency in Iraq.
see: Abuse in Iraq
Dov Zakheim resigned as Pentagon Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer at the beginning of March when it was revealed that the he is unable to
account for the disappearance of a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000).
It is unlikely that this will receive much coverage in the mainstream media.
A General Accounting Office report found Defence inventory systems so lax that the US army lost track of 56 aeroplanes, 32 tanks and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. - Al Jazeera
Israel's albatross: U.S. neocons
As the developing story goes, a neocon Pentagon official allegedly gave classified documents to the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, which then passed them on to the Israeli Embassy.
So far, these are only unproved accusations. It is disturbing that some well-placed officials in the Bush
administration have leaked to the media allegations of spying against the Pentagon official and a respected
ally. As demonstrated in the phony, Clinton-era China spy case, in which Los Alamos nuclear weapons scientist
Wen Ho Lee was smeared, such lurid charges may not stick. But the charges now circulating do call attention
to the regime-change ideologues in the Pentagon, whose antics have left Israel more vulnerable than at any
time in recent memory.
[...] the Bush administration abandoned the Israel-Palestinian peace process and the United States'
historical role as a good-faith broker between the two sides. Then, after 9/11, the tight band of so-called
neoconservatives who had championed the invasion of Iraq for years, both in Israel and in the U.S.,
successfully completed their hijacking of U.S. foreign policy by landing us in the Iraq quagmire.
This has only served to inflame passions across the region, increasing the threat to Israel. Many Israelis
concerned for their country are alarmed by President Bush's substitution of militarism for diplomacy, which
they believe only benefits those who profit from fear and hate -- such as arms brokers and political
and religious extremists. -
Working for change
Co-signer of The PNAC NeoCon Plan
Why is Isreal, a country built on The holocaust, flirting with U.S./ EU Neo-Fascists?
A enemy of my enemy is my friend?
As Ledeen shows, the Italian fascists expressed their desire to tear down the old order
(his words from 2002)
in terms that are curiously anticipatory of a famous statement in 2003 by the Defense Secretary,
In 1932, Asvero Gravelli also divided Europe into old and new when he wrote,
in Towards the Fascist International, Either old Europe or young Europe. Fascism is the gravedigger
of old Europe. Now the forces of the Fascist International are rising.
- Flirting with Fascism
Back to that Washington Isreali Spy Case...
The first meeting occurred in Rome in December, 2001. It included Franklin, Rhode, and another American,
the neoconservative writer and operative Michael Ledeen, who organized the meeting.
(According to UPI, Ledeen was then working for Feith as a consultant.) Also in attendance was
Ghorbanifar and a number of other Iranians. One of the Iranians, according to two sources familiar
with the meeting, was a former senior member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard who claimed to have
information about dissident ranks within the Iranian security services. The Washington Monthly has
also learned from U.S. government sources that Nicolo Pollari, the head of Italy's military
intelligence agency, SISMI, attended the meetings, as did the Italian Minister of Defense Antonio
Martino, who is well-known in neoconservative circles in Washington.
- Iran contra II
Israeli agents accused of creating fake al-Qaeda cell
By Sophie Claudet in Gaza City December 9 2002
A senior Palestinian security official says his services have uncovered an Israeli plot to create a fake al-Qaeda cell in the Gaza Strip, a charge Israel has dismissed as absurd. The head of preventive security in Gaza, Rashid Abu Shbak, said Israeli agents posing as operatives of al-Qaeda recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
"Over the past nine months we've been investigating eight [such] cases," Mr Abu Shbak said.
His claims came after the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said al-Qaeda militants were operating in the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon, raising fears of an intensification of Israeli military occupations.
A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry branded the Palestinian claim as ridiculous and "some kind of propaganda campaign", adding that "the Palestinian territories have become a breeding ground for terrorism". "There is no need for Israel to make up something like this because [the hardline Islamic movements] are all the same as al-Qaeda," the spokesman said.
Mr Abu Shbak said three Palestinians used by Israeli intelligence had been arrested, while another 11 were released "because they came and informed us of this Israeli plot". Mr Abu Shbak said his services had traced back to Israel mobile phone calls and emails - purportedly from Germany and Lebanon - asking Palestinians to join al-Qaeda. One email had even been "signed" by the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. "We investigated the origin of those calls and found out they all came from Israel."
The Palestinians recruited were then paired, unbeknown to them, with Israeli collaborators in Gaza, and received money and weapons, "although most of these weapons did not even work". The money was provided by "Palestinian collaborators with Israel" directly to the recruits or "was transferred from bank accounts in Jerusalem or Israel", said Mr Abu Shbak, who did not dispute that as many as 11 Palestinians had welcomed the call to join al-Qaeda. "Those who accepted were mostly members of the military wing of Palestinian organisations," he said, adding that although he could not say "there will never be al-Qaeda here, but at least not for now".
The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has called Mr Sharon's al-Qaeda claim "a big, big, big lie to cover [his] attacks and his crimes against our people everywhere".
The Lebanese Government and Hezbollah have also dismissed the accusations. Mr Sharon's announcement marked the first time Israel has officially claimed that al-Qaeda was operating in the Palestinian territories, and came as a surprise because the Gaza Strip is virtually sealed off by Israeli troops.
Israel has came under heavy international criticism for a raid on a Gaza Strip refugee camp on Friday that left 10 Palestinians dead, including two United Nations employees. The European Union and Arab states joined the UN in condemning the incursion into the densely populated Al-Bureij camp. - smh.com.au/
Flashback: New Europe approved by Bush...
"When Europe and United States are united no problem and no enemy can stand against us," said Romano
Prodi, president of the European Commission. "If we fail to unite every problem may become a crisis
and every enemy a gigantic monster."
"Many people have said that Europe is too old," Prodi said, a reference to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
calling anti-war allies part of "old Europe." Said Prodi: "Maybe, but the old age helps us to understand
our strengths and our weakness."
Bush replied with a smile, "You're looking pretty young these days." -
Israel slams 'EU-Hamas contacts'
16 June, 2005 - Israel has complained to the European Union about the organisation's continuing contact with Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Hamas officials confirmed that its contacts with the EU had recently intensified.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev condemned the dialogue as "appeasement of extremists."
Meetings have reportedly taken place despite Hamas remaining on the EU's list of terrorist organisations.
The political wing of the organisation was placed on the blacklist in September 2003, leading to its assets being frozen in all EU countries.
Hamas official Mohammed Ghazal said meetings with the EU were regular, taking place every 10 days to two weeks.
The EU has not officially confirmed that contact with Hamas has been taking place. The UK government recently admitted that its officials had met with the group.
"We believe Europeans should be strengthening moderate Palestinians and not appeasing the extremists. Anything that demonstrates acceptance of Hamas as a legitimate player is a problem," said Mr Regev - BBC
Isreal: No Palastinian state
The United States on Wednesday evening asked Israel to clarify statements made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's senior advisor, Dov Weisglass, in an interview with Haaretz that the disengagement plan means a "freezing of the peace process," Israel Radio reported.
"The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process," Weisglass, one of the initiators of the disengagement plan, said in an interview for the Haaretz Friday Magazine.
"And when you freeze that process," Weisglass added, "you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem.
"Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."
"The disengagement is actually formaldehyde," he said. "It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."
'No entry' for Palestinian refugees
WASHINGTON - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday ruled out the return of any Palestinian refugees to Israel or the loss of three major blocs of Jewish settlements in the West Bank under any peace deal.
Speaking in Washington, Sharon also promised to help Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas "as much as we can as long as we do not risk our security." Abbas, who was elected by Palestinians in January to succeed the late Yasser Arafat, is due to meet with President Bush on Thursday to seek more U.S. support.
Under a February truce agreement with the Palestinians, Israel promised to free 900 of the more than 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. It has released 500. When he returns to Israel, Sharon said, he will authorize freeing the additional 400 prisoners.
Sharon, who visited Bush at his Texas ranch last month, did not stop at the White House this time. In Washington to address an annual conference of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he stressed that Israel, though it is withdrawing from Gaza this summer, would not give up three large blocs of Jewish settlements in the West Bank or the roads that connect them to Israel.
Sharon also said "there will be no entry of Palestinian refugees into Israel." About 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes in what is now Israel during Israel's 1948 war of independence, and they have about 3 million descendants. Many of those Palestinians are now living in refugee camps in surrounding Arab countries. Abbas and other Palestinian officials say at least some should be able to move to Israel, while others could settle in a Palestinian state.
Sharon was twice interrupted by hecklers opposed to his decision to end Israel's occupation of Gaza. Outside the conference at the Washington Convention Center, a group of about 50 stood in the rain to protest the plan. One held a placard quoting Sharon in 1992 as saying "no sane Jewish government would hand over parts of the land of Israel, even in return for peace."
Another demonstrator, Stephanie Wells of Los Angeles, said Sharon's decision would create a "terrorist state" in Gaza, home to more than 1 million Palestinians, and oblige the United States to "clean up afterward."
Inside the hall, Sharon defended his proposal, which he has said is necessary to preserve a Jewish majority in Israel. More than 3.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza; Israel proper has about 5 million Jews and 1.3 million Arab citizens, according to the State Department. Sharon said withdrawal is also necessary to improve Israel's strategic posture, increase international support for the Jewish state and allow it to focus on its economy.
He repeated prior pledges to coordinate the Gaza withdrawal with the Palestinians and urged Abbas to dismantle terrorist organizations, not absorb them into Palestinian security forces. Referring to the "road map" peace plan endorsed by the United States and the United Nations, Sharon said Israel would negotiate a permanent peace only if the Palestinians acted against terrorist groups.
Sharon also ruled out compromise over Jerusalem, whose predominantly Arab eastern section is claimed by Palestinians as a future capital. The overflow crowd at the conference gave Sharon a standing ovation as he referred to Jerusalem as the "eternal, united, undivided capital" of the Jewish state.
By Barbara Slavin, USA TODAY
Pentagon to provide Israel with 100 bunker busting bombs
27th April, 2005 - The Pentagon plans to sell 100 bunker-busting bombs to Israel.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has served a notice on Congress advising it of the proposed sale. Congress now has 30 days to either take steps to thwart the sale or to allow it to proceed.
The provision of such a large number of GBU-28s, as the bunker buster bombs are known, has heightened concern about the escalating military might of Israel at a time when the U.S. is promoting non-proliferatiion of weapons in the Middle East.
There is speculation the move underpins a potential attack by the Jewish state against Iran, a possibility alluded to by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in recent weeks. Israel undertook a similar action against Iraq some 24 years ago.
The United States, with the urging of Israel, has been pressing for Iran to halt its nuclear program. Iran insists it is not developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. and Israel maintain it is.
Israel attacked Iraq on 7th June 1981 in an air raid bombing of its nuclear research centre. Similar to Iran, Iraq was a party to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty and at the time of the attack was in compliance with safeguards imposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Within days of the attack the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution (Resolution 481) which strongly condemned the attack. It also said the council recognized the "inalienable sovereign right of Iraq and all other states to establish programs of technological and nuclear development to develop their economy and industry for peaceful purposes."
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin claimed Iraq's reactor was about to go into operation and was a threat to Israel because it could produce nuclear weapons, a claim discredited by the IAEA, and rejected by the UN Security Council.
Resolution 481 also called on Israel to urgently place its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards, which has not happened in the 24 years since.
John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Liveable World, said the proposed sale of bunker buster bombs to Israel was clearly "a provocative step" that would prompt concerns about a unilateral Israeli strike, particularly in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.
"One could be suspicious that these bombs could be used for an Israeli attack on Iran," Isaacs said.
Earlier Tuesday David Siegel, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said the GBU-28 was "one component in a basket of measures Israel is acquiring". - bignewsnetwork.com
Richard Perle calls for Iran action at AIPAC annual meeting
The annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has long produced a massive show of bipartisan pandering, as lawmakers praise the well-financed and well-connected group. But this has been a rough year for AIPAC -- it has dismissed its policy director and another employee while the FBI examines whether they passed classified U.S. information to Israel -- and the organization is eager to show how big it is.
"This is a test, a test of our collective resolve," Kohr said of the "unique challenge" presented by the FBI probe, "and your presence here today sends a message to every adversary of Israel, AIPAC and the Jewish community that we are here, and here to stay." (The official text has two exclamation points after that sentence.) Kohr, without mentioning the fired staffers, told participants that "neither AIPAC nor any of its current employees is or ever has been the target."
The morning brought Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the evening brought congressional leaders, and at a luncheon "debate" in between, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and informal administration foreign policy adviser Richard N. Perle tried to one-up each other in pro-Israel views.
Perle drew cheers for denouncing Palestinian anti-Semitism and the French. Harman mentioned that an aide once worked for AIPAC, called her audience "very sophisticated" and celebrated Yasser Arafat's death as "a blessing." Debating a hard-liner in front of a pro-administration crowd, Harman heaped praise on President Bush, calling the Iraqi elections "sensationally impressive" and moving to "applaud" or "commend" Perle and the administration a dozen times. "Richard is right, and so is President Bush," she said at one point.
But after half an hour of this, Harman could not keep up. Perle provoked cheers from the crowd when he favored a military raid on Iran, saying that "if Iran is on the verge of a nuclear weapon, I think we will have no choice but to take decisive action." When Harman said the "best short-term option" is the U.N. Security Council, the crowd reacted with boos. - washington post
Call to dissolve Israel parliament
June 15, 2005
THE Speaker of the Knesset has called for the Israeli parliament to be dissolved and for fresh elections to be held, after government defeats, public radio reported today. Reuven Rivlin launched his appeal after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered another embarrassing defeat at the hands of parliament yesterday when he was defeated in a special debate called by MPs over corruption. Just hours after deputies had approved three censure motions, they then voted against the Government at the end of the corruption debate despite an impassioned defence by the Prime Minister himself.
The corruption debate was called in the wake of a damning report in May by Israel's state comptroller who warned that a culture of cronyism and corruption at the heart of government was threatening the very fabric of the state. But Mr Sharon told MPs that a politically motivated campaign was being waged to tarnish the image of his own Likud party.
"There is a campaign at the moment in the public arena which is being conducted under the slogan 'the fight against corruption' but whose real goal is to blacken the name of Likud," he said.
Mr Sharon himself was at the centre of two separate corruption scandals but no charges have ever been brought against him.
According to the radio report, Mr Rivlin argued that "Mr Sharon has lost his electoral base and parliament should pronounce its self-dissolution and organise elections".
Mr Rivlin is one of the ruling Likud party "Rebels" opposed to Mr Sharon's plan to pull troops out of the Gaza Strip. After months of political wrangling, Mr Sharon managed to stitch together a broad-based coalition earlier this year to pass through his controversial Gaza Strip pullout plan. But he remains vulnerable to ambushes by the Opposition, especially as he has lost the support of some MPs from his right-wing party who are disgusted by the prospect of the Gaza settlers being uprooted from their homes this northern summer. The pull-out plan calls for the evacuation of about 8000 Israeli settlers from the 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four others in the West Bank.
The Knesset needs a majority vote to dissolve itself.
The legislature would normally finish its term at the end of next year.
Details of a Plot Unveiled in Case Against Franklin
June 14, 2005 WASHINGTON - An analyst for the Pentagon, Lawrence Franklin, conspired to funnel classified information to Israel during a series of meetings with two lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and a top diplomat from the Israeli Embassy, according to a grand jury indictment that was unsealed yesterday.
The indictment says Mr. Franklin sought the help of a senior lobbyist for Aipac in getting a job at the National Security Council; that he enlisted the Israeli diplomat to write a letter for his daughter to ease her travels in the Middle East, and that he discussed with that diplomat weapons tests for a Middle Eastern country. Coffees were sipped, sandwiches purchased, and at one point the Israeli diplomat gave Mr. Franklin a gift card.
The grand jury's indictment charges Mr. Franklin, who has served as a desk officer on Iran at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, with six counts, including mishandling classified information, communicating defense information to individuals not authorized to receive it, and, most serious, "a conspiracy to communicate classified information to agent and representative of a foreign government, without specific authorization."
Mr. Franklin, 58, pleaded innocent yesterday to all six counts against him. "Mr. Franklin entered a plea of not guilty and he is prepared to take this to trial," his lawyer, Plato Cacheris, told The New York Sun yesterday. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III yesterday set a trial date for September 6.
The FBI probe into Mr. Franklin and two Aipac lobbyists, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, has attracted considerable press attention since the story was leaked in August last year. In April, Aipac terminated the employment of Mr. Rosen, who served as the organization's director of foreign policy, and Mr. Weissman, who was one of Aipac's top Iran policy analysts.
Until yesterday, however, no formal indictments against any of the targets have been made public. Initial press reports described Mr. Franklin as an Israeli mole in the Pentagon, though the indictment made public yesterday does not charge him with spying.
The 20-page indictment filed initially on May 26, 2005, in the U.S. district court of Alexandria, Va., details meetings Mr. Franklin had with two unindicted co-conspirators, not named in the court document but widely known to be Messrs. Rosen and Weissman. The indictment also describes a series of meetings with a foreign official, also widely known to be the Israeli Embassy's chief political officer, Naor Gilon. Mr. Gilon remains to this day the embassy's point of contact with the Bush administration on Iran policy.
"Our diplomats conduct themselves in full accordance with established diplomatic practice and did not do anything that would contravene these standards," an Israeli embassy spokesman, David Siegel, said yesterday. He would offer no further comment on the indictments.
Most of the charges against Mr. Franklin are listed in the section of the criminal code that includes crimes of treason and espionage. The federal government, however, has chosen not to charge Mr. Franklin with these more serious crimes. Last month, Mr. Cacheris told the Sun that the FBI last August asked Mr. Franklin to plead guilty to being a spy for Israel after he voluntarily cooperated with what the analyst believed was a probe of Aipac.
Many of the familiar patterns in other spy cases are absent from the Franklin affair. For example, with the exception of a gift card Mr. Gilon allegedly gave Mr. Franklin on February 13, 2004, there was no pattern of payment toward Mr. Franklin. And with the exception of what the government says was an appendix to a classified document, Mr. Franklin did not pass any classified documents or photos to either Mr. Gilon or Messrs. Rosen and Weissman. The government's case for a conspiracy hinges on conversations between Mr. Franklin and Messrs. Gilon, Rosen, and Weissman.
Despite a wealth of fresh details on the dates, times, and locations of those conversations, the indictment is vague on exactly what Mr. Franklin is alleged to have passed on to the Israelis and the lobbyists. For example, it refers to conversations about a "certain Middle Eastern country," widely known to be Iran. The indictment says that Mr. Franklin faxed one of the lobbyists a "classified appendix to the classified draft internal policy document defendant had previously discussed" with the two lobbyists.
One source familiar with the document described it as a "list of horribles about Iran. The sorts of things most people knew already, such as Iran's sponsorship of Hezbollah." Mr. Franklin's attorney last month said the document did not contain classified material.
The details of the information Mr. Franklin allegedly shared with Mr. Gilon and the Aipac lobbyists could shed light on whether Israeli officials relied only on Mr. Franklin to receive the information he shared. Since 1996, the intelligence services of America and Israel have had a formal channel to share threat information on Iran. That channel was expanded to a formal political group in 1998.
The indictment states that Mr. Franklin tried to enlist Mr. Rosen's help in getting him a job at the National Security Council. Mr. Rosen, referred to as co-conspirator 1, said on February 14, 2003, that he would see what he could do to get Mr. Franklin a job "by the elbow of the president."
That incident stands out because Mr. Franklin's defenders have said that Mr. Franklin sought out the two Aipac lobbyists in order to get threat information to the White House.
The indictment also alleges that Mr. Gilon may have influenced Mr. Franklin's work. In a meeting on May 23, 2003, at the Pentagon Officer's Athletic Club, Messrs. Franklin and Gilon, who was referred to in the indictment as "FO," for foreign official, discussed European views on Iran - referred to as the "Middle Eastern country" - and its nuclear program. Following the meeting, the indictment says Mr. Franklin drafted an action memo to his superiors "incorporating suggestions made by the FO during the meeting."
All told, the indictment lists 14 times between August 15, 2002, and June 23, 2004, that Mr. Franklin met with Mr. Gilon. The frequency of the meetings and phone calls suggests that Mr. Franklin did not need Messrs. Rosen and Weissman to reach the government of Israel.
- BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
Israel-US relations 'in crisis'
Israeli arms sales to China have provoked a "crisis" in relations with the US, according a senior Israeli parliamentary official.
Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee, made the remarks in an interview on Israel radio.
The sales have angered the US government which fears its own technology may could be used against Taiwan.
The US provides $2bn (£1.1bn) of military aid to Israel every year.
Washington has refused to negotiate with Israel on the issue of the Chinese arms deal for months.
The US has also imposed sanctions on the Israeli defence industry, according to media reports.
It has suspended several joint weapons and technology projects with Israel, the reports say.
Israel has supplied China with Harpy Killer unmanned attack drones, designed to target radar systems.
"There is a crisis that has been going on for almost a year," Mr Steinitz told Israel Radio.
"There is no doubt that relationship with the United States is critical to Israel. But, with all the enormous importance of US diplomatic, economic and military help, Israel must keep its independence and also some reciprocity in this relationship," he added.
"This is an illegitimate demand which also has an aspect of humiliation to it," he said. "We cannot agree to everything." - BBC
a huge American military base is nearing completion in Israel. Reportedly, it has holding facilities for as many as 18,000 protesters.
The guard asked what I was doing. I replied, "I'm a journalist proving that a huge American military base is being constructed on Israeli soil."
"What's wrong with that?" he asked. "Who else will protect us from the Palestinians?"
- Barry Chamish Via Rense
Two ex-lobbyists for a key pro-Israel group indicted in spy probe
By Mark Sherman The Associated Press - Friday, August 5, 2005 - WASHINGTON — Two former employees of a pro-Israel lobbying group were charged yesterday with conspiring to obtain and disclose classified U.S. defense information.
A five-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., named Steven Rosen, formerly the director of foreign-policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Keith Weissman, the group's former senior Iran analyst. The charges follow the indictment in June of Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin, accused of leaking classified military information to an Israeli official and the AIPAC employees.
The FBI investigation that led to yesterday's charges has been closely followed in Washington, where AIPAC is an influential interest group. The case also has served as a reminder of a tense time in U.S.-Israeli relations: the 1985 scandal in which civilian Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard was caught spying for Israel. The government is not accusing Franklin, Rosen or Weissman of espionage, although the FBI has questioned at least one Israeli official.
Israeli Embassy spokesman David Siegel said his country's diplomats have done nothing wrong. Rosen, a top AIPAC lobbyist for 23 years, and Weissman disclosed sensitive information as far back as 1999 on a variety of topics, including al-Qaida, terrorist activities in Central Asia, the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and U.S. policy in Iran, the indictment said. Among their contacts were U.S. and foreign government officials and reporters, the indictment said. AIPAC fired Rosen and Weissman earlier this year.
One unanswered question is how the men might have obtained classified material before they met Franklin, who specialized in Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs, in 2003. While the indictment suggests at least two other U.S. officials also were sources of classified information, no other charges are planned, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty said at a news conference in Alexandria. McNulty said the men apparently were motivated by a desire to advance their personal agendas and careers by trading on prized information. "The facts alleged today tell a story of individuals who put their own interests and their own views of foreign policy ahead of American national security," McNulty said.
Rosen, 63, of Silver Spring, Md.; Weissman, 53, of Bethesda, Md.; and Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va., are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 16 in Alexandria.
"The charges in the indictment announced today are entirely unjustified," said Abbe Lowell, Rosen's attorney. John Nassikas, Weissman's lawyer, said, "We are disappointed that the government has decided to pursue these charges, which Mr. Weissman strongly denies."
Franklin previously pleaded not guilty, but the new indictment dropped one charge and he will be rearraigned on the others. Prosecutors did not explain why they dropped the charge of communicating classified information to someone not authorized to receive it. - seattletimes.nwsource.com
Israel shut down the roads to the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza Sunday midnight, marking the start of an official pullout from all Gaza settlements.
The Israeli army lowered down a notice board written with the words "Stop entry into Gaza Strip; presence there is forbidden by law" at the kissufim junction, signaling that the historic moment has finally come.
In accordance with a decision made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, starting from Sunday night, Israeli civilians will be barred from entry into all settlements slated for evacuation in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, a nationwide alert went into effect with a state of emergency lasting until after the disengagement is concluded.
Israel is set to pull more than 8,000 settlers out of Gaza settlements in one month and hand over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in two months. - xinhuanet
"Israel will continue to rule over Palestinian airspace and territorial waters, and will maintain partial control over border crossings," said Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa.
"Therefore, individual movement and our connections with the outside world will continue to be subject to Israeli authority," he said. - infoisrael.net
Palestinians push UN on Israeli West Bank barrier
By Irwin Arieff UNITED NATIONS, July 21 (Reuters) - Israel is using its planned withdrawal from Gaza to divert attention from a continued expansion of its West Bank settlements and an extension of its barrier around Jerusalem, a Palestinian diplomat told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.
A top U.N. envoy echoed Palestinian U.N. envoy Somaia Barghouti's view, pressing the Jewish state to "meet its legal obligations" concerning the West Bank barrier and fulfill its commitments to freeze all settlement activity and dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
But Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman urged council members to focus on "the larger picture" of the Gaza withdrawal and accused the Palestinian envoy of "diatribes and distorted facts." It was "almost cynical" that Palestinian leaders wanted to discuss the barrier at a time of deteriorating security, he said. "If the Palestinian leadership does not eradicate terrorism, terrorism will ultimately eradicate it," he said.
Arab nations requested the council debate to put fresh pressure on the United Nations a year after an advisory opinion of the World Court concluded the Israeli barrier was illegal. The court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, said the barrier should be dismantled as it is being built on West Bank land rather than along the pre-1967 border separating Israeli and Palestinian territory.
Israel has said it was ignoring the ruling, although it has made some adjustments in the barrier's route. While Israel says it is building the barrier to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers, Palestinians call it a land grab aimed at undermining creation of a Palestinian state.
Israel evacuates 85 percent of Gaza's settlers
Sat Aug 20, 2005 10:02 AM BST By Goran Tomasevic in NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Israeli forces have now evacuated more than 85 percent of Gaza's Jewish settlers and all should be out by Monday, after nearly 40 years of occupation, police said on Saturday.
Following three days of forced evacuations, during which settlers were carried weeping from their homes and protesters pulled screaming from synagogues by unarmed soldiers, only four of the 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip remain.
The removal of settlements is the first from land that Palestinians want for a state under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for "disengagement" from conflict, backed by Washington as a possible step to peace.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas militants who have largely respected a six-month-old truce reiterated that their fight would continue after Israel quit Gaza. The group is committed to destroying the Jewish state.
Police spokesman Avi Zelba said 85 percent of the houses in Gaza that were once home to 8,500 settlers were now empty. Some 1.4 million Palestinians live in Gaza's densely populated cities and refugee camps.
There were no evacuations on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
Security forces hope to clear three remaining settlements in Gaza's main Gush Katif settlement bloc on Sunday and outlying Netzarim on Monday before turning attention to two of four West Bank settlements that are due to be evacuated.
"We expect all the settlements to be evacuated during the next week," Zelba said.
A core of radicals opposed to giving up any of the land captured in the 1967 war, which they see as a biblical birthright, is expected to continue to resist in the Gaza settlements and particularly in the West Bank.
RESISTANCE EXPECTED IN WEST BANK
Sanur and Homesh, built on territory where many religious Jews feel an even closer biblical bond than in Gaza, are seen as potential flashpoints because of an influx of rightist Israelis from the most radical West Bank settlements.
One was caught trying to get in by posing as an army officer with his weapon.
Rightists say the withdrawal is a victory for Palestinian militant attacks, a view echoed by the gunmen, and fear that uprooting Gaza's settlements sets a precedent for further pullbacks from the much bigger enclaves in the West Bank.
Palestinians welcome the removal of the Gaza settlers and another 500 from the West Bank, but fear Israel aims to keep most of the other settlements housing 230,000 settlers forever. Some 2.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing a cheering crowd in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, called the evacuation a "great joy". Hamas militants, at the forefront of an uprising since 2000, said Gaza was "just a stop on the way to liberation" and they would continue to fight and rejected any suggestion that they could disarm.
The United States hopes the Gaza plan will kick-start negotiations for a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel, but Sharon has ruled out any such talks until groups like Hamas are dismantled. Israeli forces are due to start large scale demolitions of the settler homes in Gaza on Sunday. Palestinians agreed that they wanted the houses destroyed.
The World Court calls the settlements illegal. Israel disputes this.
Israel seizes Palestinian land for separation barrier
Thursday 25th August, 2005 - Israel confirmed Wednesday it had ordered Palestinian-owned land to be seized for a separation barrier.
The barrier will enclose Maaleh Adumim, the West Bank's largest Jewish settlement, and annexe it to Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has vehemently protested and has called on the Bush administration to intervene.
"This is a disastrous decision," the Los Angeles Times reported Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, as saying.
The plan would place Maaleh Adumim, five miles east of Jerusalem, inside the security barrier Israel is building around the West Bank. The settlement, which has a population of about 30,000, has been cited repeatedly by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as among the Jewish population centers in the West Bank that Israel intends to keep if and when the Palestinians achieve statehood.
The landowners have the right to appeal the orders to Israel's Supreme Court, and Palestinian officials indicated they would do so.
Erekat said that after Israel's withdrawal from the Jewish settlements of the Gaza Strip and a small swath of the northern West Bank, "We are looking for hope and peace, but this step undermines any attempt to resume meaningful negotiations."
Challenges to Israel's high court have in several instances resulted in orders to reroute the 425-mile barrier, a blend of fencing and high concrete walls, augmented by patrol roads, watchtowers and trenches. Israel built the barrier to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers, but the World Court ruled it illegal, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Big News Network.com
Pentagon analyst admits leaks
ISN SECURITY WATCH (06/10/05) - Former US Defense Department analyst Lawrence Franklin has admitted to passing classified information to an Israeli embassy official and two members of a pro-Israel lobby group, signaling his intention in court to cooperate in the prosecution of the lobbyists.
Under the terms of a plea bargain, Franklin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy charges involving the disclosure of classified information and a charge of unlawful retention of national defense information due to his unauthorized possession of classified documents in his West Virginia home.
In return, Franklin will be allowed to serve his time in a minimum-security detention camp, and his wife will receive a "survivor's benefit". He is also likely to face less prison time than the 25 years stipulated for the offenses to which he has pleaded guilty.
Franklin disclosed classified defense information in a series of meetings between 2002 and 2004 with Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, senior officials in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby group. He also said he had passed defense secrets to an Israeli diplomat. The former defense analyst told the court that he had become frustrated at government policy and had hoped that Rosen and Weissman would be able to use AIPAC contacts in the National Security Council (NSC) to influence a policy change. It is thought that Franklin was upset at the Bush administration's policy positions on Iran. "I asked them to use this information and to get it back channeled to the NSC," Franklin told the court.
According to the indictment, Franklin was motivated more by the possibility of personal advancement, asking Rosen to aid him in attaining a job with the NSC that Rosen promised would put him "by the elbow of the president". Franklin agreed in court to testify against Rosen and Weissman, who are charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified US defense information. Franklin said that he would prove that the information passed to the AIPAC officials was classified and that he had made this clear to Rosen and Weissman during their meetings.
Rosen, an AIPAC lobbyist for over 20 years, and Weissman, the organization's Iran specialist, are also charged with disseminating classified information from 1999 on a range of subjects including US policy on Iran, al-Qaida, the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and Central Asian terrorism. Both were fired by AIPAC in April. The indictments against Rosen and Weissman charge that the pair passed information to three foreign diplomats, understood to be former officials of the Israeli embassy in Washington.
The diplomats are not named. All three have returned to Israel and have diplomatic immunity. They are not expected to respond to pleas from defense lawyers to testify on behalf of Rosen and Weissman.
Franklin admitted in court on Wednesday to passing classified information to embassy political officer Naor Gilon, though his contacts with the Israeli diplomat were less extensive than with the AIPAC officials. He also told the court that he had met the Israeli official on several occasions and that the information he received from Gilon was more valuable than that which he divulged, which he understood to be already known to Israel.
The self-proclaimed informant worked for some time under the third-ranking official in the Pentagon at the time, under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith, on issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. Under the indictment, Franklin was charged with passing on secret information on threats to US troops in Iraq.
Wednesday's court session was the first time that Israeli involvement in the affair had been spelled out and that Gilon had been named. The revelations brought a swift denial from Israeli officials.
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Israeli parliament, Yuval Steinitz, told Israel Radio that "Israel is not spying in the United States or against the United States". Steinitz added that Israel had no knowledge of Franklin's activities and that the US had not accused Israel of any involvement in soliciting information from the Pentagon analyst.
Israel is keen to distance itself from the case so as not to exacerbate pre-existing tensions with the US over Israeli military sales to China, and in order to prevent a repeat of an earlier spy drama in which naval counterintelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard passed classified material to Israel. The Pollard affair has periodically soured relations between the two countries since 1985. - isn.ethz.ch
Israel assassinates Jihad commander in airstrike
Friday 28th October, 2005 - An Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip has killed a top Islamic Jihad commander and at least six other people, a day after an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber killed five people in central Israel.
The Israeli military confirmed the Thursday evening helicopter strike near the Jabaliya refugee camp, saying it targeted an Islamic Jihad militant. Palestinians identified him as Shahdi Mohanna, the Islamic Jihad commander for the northern Gaza Strip. They said three other Islamic Jihad activists and three civilians were also among the dead, and at least 15 people were wounded.
Earlier Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced an offensive he said would not stop until the Palestinian Authority moves decisively to stop militant attacks. He also said he will not hold talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas until the attacks stop. - bignewsnetwork
Israel wants EU to secure Gaza border
02.11.2005 - 09:59 CET | By Mark Beunderman - The EU has been set a major foreign policy challenge following a request by the Israeli government to monitor the Egyptian-Gaza border, with EU officials to have real enforcement capacities.
The Israeli inner cabinet, a circle of the most senior ministers, on Tuesday (1 November) voted to call upon EU inspectors to be engaged in monitoring the Rafah crossing between the Gaza strip and Egypt.
Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom said, according to Israeli daily Haaretz, "Our objective is for the Europeans to have enforcement capabilities in the field, and not just a symbolic presence".
Since Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza strip, it says the crossing is characterised by weapons smuggling and uncontrolled passage of terrorists, with Egyptian authorities unable to safeguard border security.
The Israelis, which have traditionally been wary of EU involvement in its relations with the Palestinians, have now for the first time turned their eyes to Brussels to play a concrete role in the Middle East peace process.
The Palestinian Authority supports the idea of the EU sending border observers, but it disagrees with Israel on the European mandate.
Ghassan Hatib, who leads the Palestinian team negotiating on the Rafah issue, said according to UK paper the Independent "The EU will be monitors. If they notice something is happening in violation of the agreements and the standards, then they will ask the Palestinians to correct things".
He added that the European role should be "confidence-building, not enforcing".
On top of this, the EU itself appears to be wary of engaging in a long-lasting presence of EU officials exposed to security threats.
According to Haaretz, EU diplomats said the EU is demanding a time limit to be placed on the mission, while seeking clear-cut reassurances from the Palestinian side that the team will not be attacked.
But Italian foreign minister Gianfranco Fini said that if the EU does not accept the mission, it would damage the bloc's foreign policy goals, the Israeli paper reports.
Possible EU involvement in Gaza has been under discussion since Israel's Sharon government in 2003 indicated it had serious plans for a pull-out from the tiny Palestinian territory.
European politicians have frequently said the EU should be prepared to take greater responsibility in facilitating the Middle East peace process.
Palestinian spy chief killed in blast
From: Agence France-Presse November 10, 2005
THE head of the Palestinian intelligence services, Bashir Nafeh, was among those killed in a blast that shook a hotel in the Jordanian capital, a top Palestinian diplomat said.
"Bashir Nafeh was killed in the attack on the Grand Hyatt hotel," charge d'affaires Atallah Khairy said.
At least 57 people were killed and up to 300 wounded in three successive attacks on the Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels this morning, Jordanian officials said. - news.com.au
Four Palestinian officials among dead in Amman suicide bombings
GAZA, Nov. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Palestinian sources said on Thursday that four Palestinian officials were among the dead in Wednesday night's triple suicide bombings in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Chief of military intelligence in the West Bank and former head of the Palestinian Special Forces Major General Bashir Nafeh,high-ranking official of Preventive Security forces Colonel Abed Allun, commercial attache of the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo Jihad Fatouh, who is brother of Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Rawhi Fatouh, and deputy chairman of Cairo-Amman Bank in the Palestinian territories Mosab Khorma were killed in the bombings.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian National Authority declared a three-day mourning starting from Thursday for bombing victims.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also offered his condolences to Jordanian King Abdullah II, and condemned the attacks as "against humanity and harming Arab national security."
Three suicide bombings rocked three hotels in Amman Wednesday night, killing at least 57 and injuring over 100. Al-Qaida branch in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bombings in a website statement. xinhuanet
Rice brokers Israel-Palestinian deal
By Harvey Morris in Jerusalem
Published: November 15 2005
In a welcome coup for US diplomacy in the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, on Tuesday secured an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on border controls in the Gaza Strip.
The deal puts the Palestinians in charge of a strategic border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and eases the flow of exports from the territory, opening the way for the international community to plough a promised $2bn (€1.7bn, £1.2bn) a year into regenerating the Palestinian economy.
Ms Rice called the agreement "a major step forward for the Palestinian people in their own movement toward independence".
The new regime will start to go into place next week when an Italian carabinieri general takes command of a special European Union police unit that both sides have agreed will monitor the performance of Palestinian frontier officials. Weeks of negotiations mediated by James Wolfensohn, special envoy of the quartet - the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia - had stalled on the issue of Israel's demand to maintain controls on people crossing between Gaza and Egypt. On Monday, however, Ms Rice said an agreement was near on an extended package of proposals put forward by Mr Wolfensohn's team that also included the introduction of convoys for Palestinians travelling across Israeli territory between Gaza and the West Bank and the go-ahead for construction of a Gaza seaport.The Palestinian side accepted the package but the Israelis still had outstanding concerns about security.
After a brief side trip to Jordan on Monday evening to pay her respects after last week's al-Qaeda bombings, Ms Rice returned to Jerusalem. Working until 4.30am, she averted a last-minute crisis after the Palestinians objected to attempts by Elliott Abrams, the White House's Middle East adviser, to re-open the detailed discussions on the package.
Diplomats said the Palestinians had at one point been close to pulling out of the deal, a potential disaster for the secretary of state after she put her credibility on the line by extending her stay in the Middle East. Mr Wolfensohn said: "If you are an envoy of the quartet, you have a certain amount of possibilities in negotiations. If you are the secretary of state of the US, I would say there is a little more clout associated with that, and therefore to push it over the edge. I wanted to congratulate the secretary on having done that."
Under the terms of the agreement, EU monitors headed by Italy's Brigadier-General Pietro Pistolese will ensure that Palestinian officials conform to correct procedures in checking Palestinians travelling between Egypt and Gaza. The unarmed force will not have any responsibility for arresting suspects. Israel, however, will be able to view live video of movements at the border at a joint Israeli-EU-Palestinian liaison office. The Palestinians will consider Israeli requests to bar specified individuals, although quartet officials stressed the Gaza side of the crossing would be under full Palestinian control.
Quartet diplomats said the significance of the deal was that it would help show the Palestinian people that there were benefits to be drawn from Israel's historic withdrawal from Gaza.
"But Gaza's not the end of anything," said Javier Solana, the EU's visiting foreign policy chief. "It's the start of a process."
Israel's political crisis deepens
By Jeffrey Heller JERUSALEM, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Israel's march towards what appears to be an inevitable early election gained speed on Sunday after new Labour Party leader Amir Peretz threatened to act quickly to bring down Ariel Sharon's government.
Peretz's call for Sharon to meet him immediately to discuss a date for a new national ballot, or face a Labour move in the coming week to end their political alliance, was rejected out of hand by a top aide to the prime minister.
The political upheaval following Peretz's surprise ousting of elder statesman Shimon Peres in a Labour party leadership vote is likely to put any resumption of violence-stalled peacemaking with the Palestinians even more firmly on hold.
"With all due respect to politics, nothing can be done before Thursday," Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon said, referring to Peretz's demand on Saturday to meet Sharon earlier.
Peretz, in a television interview, said Labour "may act to topple the government on Wednesday" in the absence of a meeting with the prime minister before then. The opposition National Religious Party is to present a bill on Wednesday for the dissolution of parliament. Its passage, which requires Labour's support, would set the ball rolling towards an election as early as February. In any case, Peretz has said he will propose to Sharon an election in March or in May, advancing a vote not due until November 2006. A pledge to leave Sharon's government over what Peretz has called its neglect of Israel's poor was a centrepiece of the 53-year-old trade union leader's campaign to replace Peres, 82.
"Looking at the prime minister's timetable, I remind everyone there are commitments related to the anniversary (of the assassination) of Yitzhak Rabin," Maimon told Army Radio. "Ariel Sharon is not getting excited over Amir Peretz's ultimatums," he added in a separate interview with Israel's YNet web site.
Sharon is due to attend a series of memorial events marking the 10th anniversary of Rabin's killing by an ultranationalist Jew opposed to his interim peace deals with the Palestinians. In a major show of strength by Israel's left, a crowd estimated by organisers at around 200,000 gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to remember Rabin in the square where he was shot. Holding signs with slogans such as "The path to peace will never be killed", the crowd stood for a moment's silence and sang memorial songs.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton joined dozens of foreign dignitaries at the rally. Clinton, who helped broker peace Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, said he had loved Rabin, who he had always called a "chaver", Hebrew for friend.
"There has not been a week in the last 10 years where I have not thought of him and missed him," Clinton said. "However many years he had left, he gave them up on this spot for you and your future," he told the crowd.
Israel Labour Party cabinet ministers sign letters of resignation
Nov 14, 2005, 19:45 GMT Jerusalem - All eight ministers of the Israeli Labour Party signed letters of resignation Monday evening and handed them to new party leader Amir Peretz, Israeli media reported.
The letters have no legal validity until they are submitted to Premier Ariel Sharon.
But they are an expression of support for Peretz, who was elected party leader in primaries last week and who immediately after his surprise victory announced his intention to take the party out of the government.
Peretz is scheduled to meet Sharon on Thursday to discuss a possible agreed date for early elections in March. Israel Army Radio reported that he could submit the letters during that meeting. They would legally take effect within 48 hours of submission to the premier.
The 53-year-old, Moroccan-born union leader has vowed he will work to get majority support in the Knesset for early elections if the premier does not agree to the move.
Labour joined Sharon's government in January this year to help him push through his Gaza pullout initiative, but since the withdrawal's completion in September, there have been calls in the party to quit the coalition. Such a move, however, was opposed by former acting party chairman Shimon Peres. -monstersandcritics
HAMAS Takes Oath for Revenge
By Anadolu News Agency (aa) Published: Monday, November 14, 2005
The Islamic Resistance Movement, one of the armed factions in Palestine, is reportedly planning to take revenge for its militants killed during an Israeli offensive Sunday.
The organization's military wing leader, Izzeddin al-Qassam, has said "a painful retaliation is on the way".
Zionists will pay the price, he challenged, and every single drop of Palestinian blood they caused will bring regret to them.
Israeli security forces killed Amjad Hanawi, 35, on Sunday night during a roundup organized in the West Bank.
Police question Israeli ambassador to Britain
By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem(Filed: 15/11/2005)
Israel's ambassador to Britain has been questioned by detectives in Israel investigating the largest money laundering scandal in the country's history. Zvi Heifetz was met by detectives when he arrived at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport from London last Friday. Mickey Rosenfeld, Israel's national police spokesman, said the ambassador was questioned for 90 minutes before being released without charge.
In a statement, Mr Heifetz said: "All I can say is that I have not committed any offence, and I am convinced this will be the outcome of this inquiry."
The investigation concerns Mr Heifetz's previous job when he worked as the Israeli agent of the Russian businessman Vladimir Gusinsky, whose offices in Israel have been raided by police investigating more than £300 million earned by criminal gangs. Mr Gusinsky has not been charged and he denies any wrongdoing. Two men, one woman and a company registered in the British Virgin Islands have already been charged in connection with the case.
PM's son Omri Sharon convicted of campaign-linked corruption
By Yuval Yoaz and Zvi Harel, Haaretz Correspondents
Likud MK Omri Sharon, the 41-year-old son of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was convicted of charges related to the financing of his father's 1999 primaries campaign, after he entered a guilty plea at the outset of his trial, which opened on Tuesday.
Omri Sharon's lawyers were also expected to announce Tuesday that their client plans to retire from politics, step seen as an effort to mitigate the sentence. Under the law, the sentence could be as much as five years in prison, but the actual penalty is likely to be much lighter, legal analysts said early Tuesday.
Sharon was convicted of a number of serious violations, among them fictitious registration of corporate documents, which carries a maximum five-year term; lying under oath and violations of the election code, which are punishable by fines.
Under a plea bargain concluded on Monday, the prosecution presented an amended indictment, from which a charge of corporate fraud and breaching corporate trust will be modified to a lesser charge.
However, sides have yet to reach an agreement on Sharon's sentencing.
MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz-Yahad), after hearing of Sharon's impending resignation, said Monday night that he hoped that the senior Sharon would learn from his son's example.
If Omri Sharon leaves the Knesset as expected, Penina Rosenblum would replace him as a Likud MK.
According to the indictment, Sharon - who had been appointed by his father to run his September 1999 campaign for leadership of the Likud party - received NIS 6 million in campaign financing from corporations in Israel and abroad between July 1999 and February 2000. The prosecution says the money significantly exceeds the funding caps.
Sharon is accused of funneling the money into a company called Annex Research, which was allegedly founded for that purpose. The campaign allegedly paid most suppliers and service providers through Annex Research rather than through the Sharon camp's official bank account.
The original indictment, issued August 28, accuses Sharon of fraudulent registration of corporate documents, lying under oath and breach of corporate trust, all of which fall under the penal code. He is also accused of violating elements of the Parties Law by receiving illegal donations, receiving more money than allowed, withdrawing more money than allowed and failing to manage funds as required.
Another defendant in the case is Gavriel Manor, a Likud member who served as the general manager of Annex Research. However, a state comptroller's report last year noted that Sharon appeared to have run Annex Research's entire affairs while Manor merely signed the checks.
In order to cover up the alleged financing irregularities, Sharon is accused of instructing some suppliers and service providers to write receipts that did not fully reflect the supplies or services they provided.
Israel May Indict Russian Tycoon Gusinsky Over Money Laundering
Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Israeli police said they have gathered enough evidence to indict former Russian media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky under the country's money laundering laws for transactions conducted through a Tel Aviv branch of Bank Hapoalim Ltd. As part of the investigation into ``illegal transactions'' at Hapoalim, police last week also questioned Zvi Heifetz, who had managed Gusinsky's businesses until before becoming Israel's ambassador to Britain, said Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman. Police won't comment on any link between the two, he said.
``At the moment I can't say what figures are involved with Gusinsky, but at Bank Hapoalim we're talking about $500 million in 200 separate accounts,'' Rosenfeld said today in a phone interview. ``We pulled Heifetz in for questioning specifically about the Bank Hapoalim case. How he was connected we won't talk about.''
The probes are part of Israel's biggest money laundering investigation, which police announced last March. Israel has cracked down on financial fraud amid international pressure by passing an anti-money laundering law in 2000 and creating an authority to fight such crimes in 2002.
Arnon Perlman, who acts as Gusinky's representative in Israel, declined to comment on the investigation until the police make an official announcement. Gusinsky owns 27 percent of Ma'ariv, a media company that publishes Israel's second-largest daily newspaper. Bank Hapoalim, Israel's biggest lender, originally alerted police to suspicions related to the affair in early 2004. The bank isn't suspected of any wrongdoing in the fraud.
Heifetz was questioned Nov. 11 for six hours and then allowed to return to London, Rosenfeld said. Heifetz has cooperated fully with the investigation, which is related to a business affair that took place about three years ago, before he became ambassador in June 2004, the Israeli embassy in London said in a statement.
``I have not committed any offence, and I am convinced this will be the outcome of this inquiry,'' Heifetz said in a statement. ``In no way will this affect my commitment to my duties.''
Investigators suspect that he helped Gusinsky funnel some of the money through Heifetz's bank accounts, the Haaretz daily reported today, without saying where it got the information. Police won't seek to establish the origin of the money, but will build their case on improper management of Gusinsky's accounts, which is enough to make an indictment under Israeli law, the newspaper said.
Abbas: Israel pushing Palestinians to civil war
By Wafa Amr RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov 15 (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Tuesday of trying to avoid peace talks and push Palestinians into civil war by insisting that militants be disarmed ahead of any negotiations on statehood.
Abbas said in a televised address that Israel was acting as though it had "no peace partner", shortly after a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meant to encourage peacemaking following Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. It was not the first time that Abbas had said that disarming militants could risk civil war, but it was some of his strongest criticism of Israel since the Gaza pullout in September. He accused Israel of "a determination that Palestinians pass through a civil war" because of its insistence that negotiations cannot start before the disarming of militant groups waging an uprising since talks failed in 2000. His speech marked the anniversary of a Palestinian declaration of independence from exile in 1988.
Palestinians are meant to start disarming militants under a U.S.-backed peace "road map". Israel also says it is committed to that plan, though it has failed to meet its own pledge to freeze settlement building in the West Bank. Powerful militant factions, such as Islamic group Hamas, say they will not give up their weapons and have occasionally clashed with security forces. Some also have strong popular support because of their fight against Israel.
Most groups agreed with Abbas to abide by a truce with Israel, though violence has flared sporadically.
Israeli officials reiterated that there could be no statehood talks before militants are disarmed. "These conditions are clear and these are their obligations from the first stage of the road map," Zeev Boim, Israel's deputy defence minister, told Israel Radio.
During her visit, Rice renewed U.S. pressure on Abbas to act against the armed groups. She also pushed Israel on the question of settlement building. Israelis and Palestinians reached a U.S.-brokered deal on Tuesday to improve access for Gaza, but there has been little sign of movement on peacemaking following the withdrawal. Sporadic violence has kept contacts icy.
"(Israel) is seeking to impose a very dangerous option, and that is a long-term solution based on setting up a state with provisional borders controlled by the Israelis, divided by settlements into isolated cantons," Abbas said.
In another speech delivered on his behalf at a conference in Israel marking the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Abbas said he believed a deal could be possible.
"If we have an Israeli partner willing to engage in these negotiations, mark our words we do not need more than 6 months to conclude an historic permanent status treaty," he said.
Palestinians have long accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of trying to use the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a ruse to seal a permanent hold on much larger chunks of the West Bank.
Palestinian official says Arafat killed by toxin injection
Friday 18th November, 2005 - An adviser to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, has told a London newspaper former chairman Yasser Arafat was poisoned.
Ahmad Abdul Rahman, a high-ranking member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told the Al Quds Al-Arabi newspaper Arafat died of poisoning brought about by an injection into his ear towards the end of September 2003.
Arafat lost 13 kilos over the sixteen days following the injection Abdul Rahman said. News reports at the time confirmed doctors struggled to identify the cause of Arafat's illness.
Abdul Rahman spoke of the former leader's desire to mingle with people in crowds, a factor in his downfall he said.
Abdul Rahman made no comment on who he believed was behind the poisoning. - Big News Network.com
Sharon quits as Labour coalition crumbles
20/11/2005 - Israel's Labour Party has tonight voted to withdraw from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government. Sharon is now quitting his Likud Party to set up a new movement, kicking off a campaign for elections expected in March. He is expected to take several prominent Likud Cabinet ministers with him into his new party, along with some from Labour - possibly including the ousted chairman, elder statesman Shimon Peres.
Likud and Labour are believed to have agreed on a March 28 election date. A formal announcement is expected tomorrow.
Sharon's Gaza pullout, a dramatic about-face after decades of settlement building and expansion in the West Bank and Gaza, fractured his party.
The Labour decision to leave Sharon's government came at a party convention by a show of hands, following Labour Party leader Amir Peretz's wishes.
Rebels in the Likud faction in parliament withheld support from his initiatives, preventing him from adding two supporters to his Cabinet and demonstrating that Sharon's government could not continue to function.
Tomorrow, Sharon is to ask Israel's President to disperse the parliament, setting in motion a process leading to elections in March, the country's Army Radio reported.
Advancing Israel's election from the original November 2006 date would probably sideline Mideast peace moves and counter whatever momentum was gained from Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank, completed in September.
Palestinians are also concentrating on their own parliamentary election, set for January 25, with the violent Islamic Hamas running candidates for the first time and posing a significant challenge to the ruling Fatah Party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah primary elections began yesterday in the desert oasis of Jericho, and as expected, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat won the nomination for the town's only seat, election officials said today.
Increasingly frustrated by the Likud rebellion, Sharon decided on the daring step of leaving the party he helped create in 1973, according to Likud activists. That would leave Likud as a bastion of hardline opponents to compromise with the Palestinians.
"I regret Sharon's decision to leave and would have preferred that he continue his struggle within Likud," said Likud MP Ehud Yatom, one of the leaders of the internal rebellion against Sharon.
At least five Likud Cabinet ministers have said they will compete for the party leadership after Sharon's exit.
Polls in weekend Israeli newspapers showed that if Sharon remained in Likud, it would maintain much of its present strength, while the newly-elected Peretz would take Labour to a healthy increase. Sharon at the head of a new party would scramble the electoral picture completely, with Likud as the main loser, according to the polls.
This month's surprise election of Peretz, a fiery union leader, as head of Labour accelerated the spiral toward early Israeli elections.
Labour joined Sharon's coalition government in January to buttress support for the Gaza pullout, but in one of his first moves, Peretz extracted letters of resignation from the eight Labour Cabinet ministers last week.
In a strident campaign speech, his first as party leader, Peretz told the convention that Sharon had partially corrected his mistake of building settlements in Gaza by pulling out, but he charged that in constructing them in the first place, Sharon had wasted "billions that could have been used to turn the education system around".
Blaming Sharon and his ex-finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu for increasing poverty and "humiliating" the poor, Peretz appealed to Israel's lower classes, traditionally Likud voters. "Come join the new social pact," he said, "You are not abandoning Likud. Likud has abandoned you."
In a brief reference to Mideast peacemaking, Peretz said he favoured a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital and opposed permitting Palestinian refugees to return to Israel - an attempt to counter efforts to paint him as an extreme peacemaker who would make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians. He also said creation of a Palestinian state was in Israel's interest as well as the Palestinians'. - IOL
Israel's Netanyahu elected Likud chief
Tuesday Dec 20 10:33 AEDT - Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu has swept to victory in a Likud party election to take the helm of the rightist faction shattered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's defection, an exit poll showed.
Netanyahu, an ex-premier who opposed Sharon's Gaza pullout and vows to fight further withdrawals from land Palestinians want for a state, won 47 per cent of the vote to 32 per cent for Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Israel Radio projected.
Likud has led Israel for all but 10 years since it first took power in 1977, but it is now battling for third place in opinion polls behind Sharon's new centrist Kadima party and leftist Labour. A general election is set for March 28.
The Likud primary was overshadowed by Sharon's admission to a Jerusalem hospital on Sunday with a mild stroke. Worries over the 77-year-old former general's staying power could help Likud's fortunes if his health becomes a campaign issue.
"Netanyahu has been restored to his natural place at the helm of Likud and with God's help he will also become prime minister," Likud lawmaker Yuval Steinitz said.
With 10 per cent of returns counted, the tally was in line with the exit poll. Shalom conceded defeat, saying he had called Netanyahu to congratulate him and offer his support.
Sharon quit Likud in November to head off a rebellion by party ultranationalists trying to topple him for abandoning the Gaza Strip in September after 38 years of occupation.
A Netanyahu win anoints him as the party's candidate to run against Sharon but also confirms a return to its rightist roots. Likud had long opposed giving up Jewish settlements on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Netanyahu, 56, who as Sharon's finance minister won market praise for deep spending cuts and free-market reforms that helped lift Israel out of recession, quit Sharon's cabinet in protest against the Gaza pullout. He ran for the Likud leadership on a platform of refusing further territorial withdrawals and promising expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank in defiance of a US-sponsored "road map" to peace with the Palestinians.
Shalom, a relative moderate, had been seen as more flexible on possible peacemaking.
As prime minister from 1996 to 1999, Netanyahu condemned interim land-for-peace deals but then agreed, under US pressure, to hand over part of the West Bank city of Hebron.
Voter turnout was reported to have been less than half of Likud's 128,000 members, believed to reflect disappointment over Sharon's departure and apathy over the candidates running to succeed him.
Netanyahu is widely known by his nickname "Bibi" but has also been dubbed "Mr Soundbite" for his polished made-for-TV oratory and unaccented English. He has a hard core of rightist followers but many Israelis dislike his style and distrust him as a political opportunist. There is also a depth of resentment over the hardships that his economic policies caused Israel's poor. When Netanyahu visited Jerusalem's Western Wall, Judaism's holiest place of prayer, some onlookers shouted "You ruined our lives".
Surveys have predicted a major loss to Likud in the March election, with Sharon's Kadima luring away many of its supporters. Likud, which currently has 40 seats in the 120-member parliament, is expected to keep only about 12.
Israel strikes Gaza, poised for security zone
27-12-2005 - Israeli air raids struck buildings and roads in the Gaza Strip with the army poised to implement a security zone in the Palestinian territory intended to thwart militant rocket attacks. Army helicopters fired missiles, heavily damaging offices connected to the ruling Fatah movement and roads in the northern part of the territory.
The air assault came just hours after Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the army to begin assembling a security zone in northern Gaza that Palestinians will be barred from entering. An opinion poll carried by public television suggested strong Israeli support for a tough line on rocket firings. The poll conducted by the Geocartographia Institute found that 69 percent of respondents supported "eye-for-an-eye" retaliation against just 17 percent who advocated restraint.
Helicopter rockets slammed into the offices of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas's party in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, causing serious damage but no injuries, Gaza security sources said.
The army said the buildings were used by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Fatah. Helicopters also hit roads and a bridge used to access sites from where rockets are fired, the army added.
"The objective of targeting these routes is to prevent the passage of terrorists to the rocket launching grounds and to disrupt the repeated attempts to fire projectile rockets at Israeli targets," it said.
Al-Aqsa claimed to have fired rockets into Israel on Monday, one of which landed near a nursery school but none of which caused any damage or injuries. The Palestinian Authority criticized the raids, with spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina saying the attacks compromised a de facto truce that the principal militant factions have largely observed since the start of the year.
"The continued aggression and Israeli raids risk sabotaging efforts made by the Palestinian Authority to consolidate the truce," he said.
Abu Rudeina urged Washington to "act quickly to end the Israeli escalation and overturn the Israeli decision to establish a buffer zone in Gaza". Three months after Israel withdrew all Jewish settlers and troops from Gaza following a 38-year occupation, Mofaz ordered the army to begin setting up a "security strip" as a buffer zone to protect Israel against militant attacks.
Any Palestinian straying into the zone could be shot by troops from across the border. Television said that helicopters would play a key role in enforcing the "sterile" zone, largely to envelop former Jewish settlements.
Mofaz said the idea of a ground operation into Gaza was "not an issue at the moment" but said the army would be fully prepared for any action it deemed fit. "We have many other means at our disposal that we can put into operation in order to limit and stop the firing of rockets," he told public radio.
An Israeli military source told AFP that movement to enforce the security zone could come in the "next few days", with talks still underway to determine logistics. "Exactly what this zone or strip will be is still being decided upon" in talks within the army and defence ministry, the source said.
After a security meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the army to establish the no-man's land.
Local media had reported that the army was awaiting an improvement in the weather before starting to enforce the area, albeit without reoccupying the territory with ground troops. Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei has "categorically rejected" the plans and warned against "the consequences" of the security buffer zone. Given the somewhat less than watertight Palestinian truce, an upsurge in violence is predicted ahead of parliamentary elections in January.
In further evidence of the heady chaos in Gaza, around 30 Fatah gunmen seized the premises of a local authority building in Beit Lahiya, demanding jobs in the rebranded Palestinian security services.
Israel Official Warns of Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
2005-12-28 3:34:39 CRIENGLISH.com
Israeli overseas intelligence service Mossad chief Meir Dagan said on Tuesday that Iran is seeking more than one nuclear bomb and it will attain technological independence within a number of months.
Dagan told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset (parliament) that it's just a matter of time for Iran to make a nuclear bomb, but he refused to predict when Iran will be able to produce such a bomb.
"There exists a strategic Iranian decision to reach nuclear independence and the capability to produce bombs," Dagan said in an annual assessment presented to the Knesset panel. "Iran's chances of attaining the necessary technology depends on whether its plans will be thwarted by outside actors or whether it will be able to advance the uranium enrichment process," Dagan stressed.
He appreciated the diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing or at least delaying Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons, saying these efforts have resulted in a two-year delay in Iran's nuclear program. "It is very important for the United Nations Security Council to implement economic sanctions against Iran," Dagan underlined.
Speaking after Dagan's assessment, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said if Iran's nuclear program continues unchecked, it will certainly have operational nuclear capability within one or two years.
He added that if Iran possesses atomic weaponry, the region will become a "black Middle East" that will pose a danger and a threat to the entire world.
A nuclear Iran will mean an existential threat to Israel, Steinitz said, calling on the international community to take steps to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Iranian FM Backs Ahmedinajad's Remarks on Israel
By Anadolu News Agency (aa), Tehran
Published: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 zaman.com
Iranian Foreign Minister Manucher Mutteki has supported President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad's statement on Israel, in which he said, Europe should pay for the massacres committed during World War II, according to reports from the Iranian official news agency, IRNA.
Ahmedinajad in an October statement said Israel should be wiped off the map. On a different occasion, the Iranian president had said that if the Europeans are frank in their words, they should allow Zionists a place in Europe.
In accordance with a government decision passed on June 26, all children of foreign workers and their families will be deported from Israel as of March 31, 2006 unless they meet each of the following criteria:
* The child was born in Israel, is at least 10 years old and has lived here continuously.
* His parents entered Israel legally with a visa and permit according to the Entry to Israel Law before the child was born.
Israeli air strikes, unrest pummel Gaza Strip
By Nidal al-Mughrabi 2 Jan 2006 -- GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli aircraft struck at Gaza Strip militants and Palestinian police stormed government offices in the territory on Monday as internal unrest brought new calls for a Palestinian election delay.
Amid the growing chaos, an Israeli paper said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon planned to one day abandon a U.S.-peace "road map" because of the Palestinian failure to disarm militants and would seek Washington's approval to annex occupied West Bank land.
Struggling for control, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has resisted growing pressure to postpone the January 25 parliamentary vote from within his ruling Fatah movement -- which faces a strong challenge from Hamas Islamic militants.
Fatah's main militant wing, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, joined calls for an election postponement on Monday after Israeli aircraft destroyed a building in the Gaza Strip which the army said was used by the Brigades for preparing attacks.
Israel also targeted roads that it said were used by militants firing rockets into the Jewish state.
"How will there be an election with the continuation of the killings and destruction," the Brigades said in a statement in Gaza, calling on Abbas to form a national unity government that would prepare for a ballot at a later date.
Senior Fatah officials said the idea had already been rejected by Hamas. The Islamist faction, sworn to destroying Israel, has been buoyed ahead of the polls by Fatah's division between veteran politicians and a young guard.
Despite Fatah's troubles, Abbas has a big personal stake in ensuring that elections happen on time. His message to Western backers has been that they will strengthen democracy, and also help tame Hamas by bringing it into the political mainstream. Western favor is vital for Abbas in his push for statehood talks with Israel.
But Abbas's authority has been undermined by the internal disorder, particularly since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last year intensified complicated local power struggles. Firing in the air, hundreds of police stormed government offices in southern Gaza on Monday to protest over the failure of the Palestinian Authority to give them the strength to bring order -- despite Abbas's pledge to do so at the weekend. Gaza's police chief said some of those involved were either ex-militants or still moonlighting for armed factions.
"We are trying every possible effort to create a stable security situation to allow a fair election," said Ala Hosni.
Conflict with Israeli is also increasing and militant groups have said that as of January 1 they are no longer abiding by a promise they made to Abbas to ensure a "period of calm" to allow peacemaking. Violence is also a headache for Sharon as he bids for a third term in a March election, buoyed by the popularity of the Gaza pullout after 38 years of occupation.
An Israeli newspaper said on Monday that Sharon plans eventually to scrap the "road map," citing a Palestinian failure to crack down on militants, and instead seek Washington's blessing for annexing parts of the West Bank.
The report in Maariv gave no source, but Sharon's initial plans for last year's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip were first floated in a similar way. Sharon's spokesman declined comment.
In public, Sharon remains very much committed to the road map, but neither side has met its obligations -- the Palestinians to start disarming militants and the Israelis to freeze settlement building.
Maariv said that even before the March 28 general election, Sharon would propose evacuating dozens of West Bank settlements, allowing for the creation of a temporary Palestinian state on a single stretch of land in that territory.
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah, Ori Lewis and Dan Williams in Jerusalem) - news.yahoo.com
PM Sharon out of the picture
Israeli PM Ariel Sharon is being described as being everything from 'critically ill', 'clinically dead' to 'recovering'... after he had another serious stroke which saw hours of surgery & a long drawn out media frenzy - this only months after he created a new party Kadima, which saw fellow Likud [also formed by Sharon] members jump ship to follow their leader. How worrying is this for the citizens of Isreal to see such blind loyalty & sheepish political naivity - After all Sharon is 77 years old, and wasn't exactly the fittest world politician!...this of course leaves the forthcoming elections in little doubt as new Likud frontman Netanyahu hovers in pole position Netanyahu has the dubious honour of being a friend of AIPAC Neocons Perle / Feith & their spin machines. He is Ever present before during & after major terror attacks, to offer 'political advice' & suggest the culprit. Will we see a face off between him & Shimon Peres?
Sharons second stroke happened the day after Police announced they had collected evidence indicating that allegedly he received a $3 million bribe from Austrian Mobile phone moguls Martin and James Schlaff who have a stake in a West Bank casino and were using it as a front for nefarious activity - They offered the bribe after police seized certain documents - Police found the $3 million transfer while investigating a $1.5 million loan that South African businessman Cyril Kern gave Sharon... Many believe that Schlaff Bros served as a conduit for ALL the money
Israeli power vacuum
Rumours abound that Sharon is a victim of an assassination attempt - however 2 strokes is hardly the work of professional killers - especially as Sharon is still alive & stable...it has been known that he was in ill health for years...
more likely there has been a waiting game with all the corrupt in collusion to keep the power where it should be...my hunch is that the new party Kadima was an exercise in getting moderates out of power to allow Ultra-nationalist Netenyahu to step in...& Sharon to bow out before the shit hits the fan...
Sharon Resumes Breathing, Moves Hand, Leg
By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer 13 minutes ago
JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon resumed breathing on his own Monday and moved his right hand and leg in response to stimulation as doctors started weaning him off the sedatives keeping him in a coma.
Sharon's chief neurosurgeon, Dr. Felix Umansky, said the leader's response to pain stimulation was a "very important" sign, but it was too early to assess Sharon's ability to think and reason after suffering a massive stroke Wednesday. It will take days to wean the 77-year-old premier off sedatives.
By Monday afternoon, Sharon had begun breathing on his own, though he was still on a respirator to assist him, [my note: eh???] said Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah Hospital, where Sharon is being treated.
Sharon's blood pressure rose during stimulation - a positive sign - and he moved his right hand, "a small movement, but significant," Mor-Yosef said. Sharon also moved his right leg.
Sharon remained in critical condition and sedated. Doctors said they would continue reducing his sedatives over the next few days. Doctors hope that Sharon will have a greater response to pain stimulation, including opening his eyes, as the sedatives are decreased, Umansky said. It is too early to say how the massive bleeding in the right side of Sharon's brain will affect his cognitive abilities or the left side of his body.
"Once he talks to us ... and there are no other infections I will be willing to say that he is completely out of danger," Umansky said.
The doctors could put Sharon back in a coma if his condition worsens, he said. - news.yahoo.com
Axis of Fanatics -- Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad
by Norman Solomon
With Ariel Sharon out of the picture, Benjamin Netanyahu has a better chance to become prime minister of Israel. He's media savvy. He knows how to spin on American television. And he's very dangerous.
Netanyahu spent a lot of his early years in the United States. Later, during the 1980s, he worked at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and then became Israel's ambassador to the United Nations. By the time he moved up to deputy foreign minister in 1988, he was a star on U.S. networks.
The guy is smooth -- fluent in American idioms, telegenic to many eyes -- and good at lying on camera. So, when Israeli police killed 17 Palestinians at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque in October 1990, Netanyahu led a disinformation blitz asserting that the Palestinians were killed after they'd rioted and pelted Jewish worshipers from above the Wailing Wall with huge stones. At the time, his fable dominated much of the U.S. media. Later even the official Israeli inquiry debunked Netanyahu's account and blamed police for starting the clash.
Now, with Netanyahu campaigning to win the Israeli election for prime minister in late March, he's cranking up rhetoric against Iran. His outlook seems to be 180 degrees from the world view of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet in tangible political ways, they're well-positioned to feed off each other's fanaticism.
The election that gave the presidency of Iran to Ahmadinejad last summer was a victory for repressive fundamentalism. Results have included a negative trend for human rights in the country and a more bellicose foreign policy.
When Ahmadinejad declared in late October that "Israel must be wiped off the map," he did a big favor to the most militaristic of Israel's major politicians -- Benjamin Netanyahu -- who demanded that Prime Minster Sharon take forceful action against Iran. Otherwise, Netanyahu said in December, "when I form the new Israeli government, we'll do what we did in the past against Saddam's reactor, which gave us 20 years of tranquillity."
Netanyahu was referring to Israel's air attack on the Osirak reactor in June 1981 to prevent Iraq from developing nuclear weapons. But now the idea of bombing Iran is nonsensical even to many analysts who are enthusiastic about Israel's large nuclear arsenal, estimated at 200 warheads.
"Preemptive military attack is not a strategy for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons anymore; the changes in technology have made it obsolete." That's the current assessment from Larry Derfner, who often writes about Israeli politics for the Jerusalem Post. "Concealing a nuclear start-up is so much easier now than it was in 1981 and it's only going to get easier yet. Throwing fighter jets, commandos and whatnot at Iran is more than risky; it's almost certainly futile if not altogether impossible. Better for Israel and Israelis to forget about it and instead meet the Iranian threat by making this country's deterrent power even more intimidating than it already is." Derfner added: "A nuclear Iran isn't a cause for indifference but neither is it a cause for dread and certainly not for recklessness. A nuclear Iran is actually acceptable. We can live with it. The truth is we've been living here with threats very much like it all along."
But Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized that he wants to launch a military strike on Iran. "This is the Israeli government's primary obligation," he said. "If it is not done by the current government, I plan to lead the next government to stop the Iranians."
The specter of Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad fueling each other's madness as heads of state is frightening. In such a circumstance, the primary danger of conflagration would come from nuclear-armed Israel, not nuclear-unarmed Iran.
Candidate Netanyahu is a standard bearer for nuclear insanity. He's also an implacable enemy of basic Palestinian human rights. Many Israelis understand that Netanyahu is an extremist, and polls published on Jan. 6 indicate that the post-Sharon era may not be as hospitable to Netanyahu as initially assumed.
For that matter, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not serve out his full four-year term as Iran's president. Evidently the hardline clerics who dominate the Iranian government got more than they bargained for when they threw their weight behind the Ahmadinejad campaign last June. In recent months, Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has shifted more power to the governmental Expediency Council headed by the shady magnate Hashemi Rafsanjani, a relatively moderate political hack who lost in the presidential runoff last year.
Ahmadinejad is good at making statements that cause international uproars, but he's having a difficult time exercising presidential leverage. "Even in Iran's mostly conservative parliament, the hard-line president has found himself unable to get traction," the Los Angeles Times noted on Jan. 2. "In a first for the Islamic Republic, lawmakers turned down four of the ministers Ahmadinejad asked them to approve. It took him three months and four candidates to seat an oil minister. Some reformist legislators even agitated for hearings on the president's 'lack of political competence.'"
Using religious claims to bolster their quests for power, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Benjamin Netanyahu each stand to gain by pointing to the menacing fanaticism of the other. Yet many Iranians and Israelis recognize the grave dangers of such posturing.
As tensions mount and pressures intensify, the White House might end up acceding to an Israeli air attack on Iran. Or the Bush administration may prefer to launch its own air strike against Iran.
Iran. Israel. The United States. Each country has the very real potential to move in a better direction -- away from lethal righteousness. But in every society, that will require more effective grassroots efforts for peace and justice.
Israel OKs Palestinian vote in Jerusalem
Big News Network.com Sunday 15th January, 2006 (UPI)
The Israeli cabinet voted Sunday to allow Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to vote in the Palestinian elections on Jan. 25.
Israel had threatened to prohibit voting in the area because of the participation of the militant anti-Israeli Hamas group, but faced pressure from both Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the United States, the BBC said.
However, the Cabinet decided to bar the distribution of ballot slips and campaign posters belonging to Hamas.
"In any case, Israel will not allow Hamas any entry into Jerusalem, including carrying out election propaganda," said a statement from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Last week, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said they each intended to see that voting would be allowed.
Olmert is filling in for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered a massive stroke on Jan. 4.
Big News Network.com
Two Palestinians killed in West Bank
(Sunday, 15 January: 11.30 CET) - Israeli troops killed a Palestinian woman and her son and wounded two in a shooting incident in the West Bank village of Roujib early Sunday morning.
The Associated Press reports that the shooting incident took place in an atmosphere of confusion created by a village feud.
Israeli soldiers fired at a house on the periphery of the village where 20-year old Fawzi Dweikat was standing guard with a rifle, following arson attacks on his family's vehicles. His mother was also killed in the exchange.
The troops apparently thought that they had come across a terrorist hide-out. The Israeli military said that, according to initial reports, the soldiers had come under fire from the building.- ISN SECURITY WATCH
Settlers riot in Hebron
(Sunday, 15 January: 11.40 CET) - Jewish settlers set fire to Palestinian shops in central Hebron on Sunday morning, as disturbances continued in the southern West Bank city.
Hundreds of settlers rampaged through central Hebron on Saturday, in protest against an evacuation order issued against eight settler families. The rioters stoned Palestinian homes, setting one alight, and lightly wounding an Israeli soldier.
In the afternoon around 200 settlers attempted to storm the city's casbah but were stopped by Israeli security forces. Many of the rioters wore masks to prevent identification.
The settler families are to be evacuated from buildings in the city's wholesale market area. The ownership of the buildings is contested. Around 500 Jewish settlers live in Hebron amidst a Palestinian population of 160,000. - ISN SECURITY WATCH
Israeli Army kills Palestinian mother, son
Sunday 15th January, 2006
The Israeli Army opened fire on a house Sunday killing a 55 year old Palestinian woman and her 20-year old son.
The woman's daughter-in-law, also 20, was seriously injured in the incident, which took place on the fringe of the village of Roujib in the West Bank.
Witnesses say the army fired on the house. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed the incident but said soldiers were engaged in an exchange of gunfire with three armed men in the house.
Israel Army Radio quoted Shomron Brigade Commander, Colonel Yuval Bazak, as saying IDF troops opened fire after they felt their lives were in danger. He said a man armed with a rifle loaded his weapon and took aim at them.
Villagers said the man, Fawzi Dwekat, was guarding his family home following a dispute with a neighbour, which had resulted in the family's cars being set on fire in recent days.
Dwekat's mother, Nawal, aged 55, heard the gunfire and rushed to where her son was lying after being shot dead, and she was killed as well. In the barrage of gunfire Dwekat's sister-in-law was seriously injured. A fourth Palestinian person was also injured.
The Israeli Army confirmed none of the occupants of the house were wanted. It has ordered an investigation into the incident, to be headed by Colonel Bazak. - Big News Network.com
Israel appoints second woman FM
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has chosen a woman as his new foreign minister - only the second such appointment in the country's history. Tzipi Livni, 47, who is also Israel's justice minister, replaces Silvan Shalom, who resigned last week.
Mr Olmert, who has taken over from ailing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, also expanded his diminished cabinet. Only one other woman has ever held the foreign affairs portfolio - Golda Meir, who went on to become prime minister. Ms Livni's appointment is the most eye-catching in the new line-up, BBC correspondent Katya Adler in Jerusalem says.
The Labour party has meanwhile chosen candidates for Israel's elections, to be held on 28 March. Labour leader Amir Peretz is guaranteed the number one slot on the list, while former housing minister Isaac Herzog and Ophir Pines-Paz won the second and third spots.
Recent polls suggest Kadima will score a comfortable majority in the elections, with Labour second and Likud trailing third.
A former Likud MP, Ms Livni quit the party in December to join Mr Sharon's new centrist party, Kadima. Seen as a rising star in Israeli politics, Ms Livni hails from a prominent nationalist family - her father was a key figure in the Jewish underground movement, the Irgun, which fought British rule in Palestine before Israel was founded in 1948.
Mr Olmert also promoted Sharon loyalists Zeev Boim, Yaakov Edri and Roni Bar-On to the cabinet. The reshuffle follows the resignation of Labour and Likud ministers from the government over the past two months, which eventually left the cabinet with just seven members. Observers say it is a further sign that Israeli politics is returning to business as usual following Mr Sharon's stroke on 4 January. The caretaker government has been led by Mr Olmert since Mr Sharon fell ill.
On Tuesday, Mr Olmert hinted that Israel might permit a future Palestinian state to have connections with East Jerusalem - previously ruled out by successive Israeli governments. Defending his recent decision to allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote in Palestinian elections on 25 January, Mr Olmert said it was a possibility. "The responsible approach... is that as long as we don't cede our authority and sovereignty in all parts of Jerusalem, we certainly have an interest in preserving the link between the residents of East Jerusalem and a Palestinian state, and not the state of Israel."
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, but Israel has insisted on exerting sovereignty over the whole of the city. - bbc.co.uk
Israel Will Not Allow Iran To Obtain WMDs
Jerusalem (AFP) Jan 17, 2006 - Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Iran on Tuesday that Israel would not let anyone who threatened its existence obtain weapons of mass destruction as officials headed to Moscow for talks over Tehran's nuclear programme. In one of his first forays into foreign policy since taking over from the coma-stricken Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Olmert also said he believed a diplomatic solution was possible before Iran was able to obtain nuclear weapons.
"Israel cannot allow in any way or at any stage someone who has such hostile intentions against us to obtain weapons that could threaten our existence," Olmert said in talks with President Moshe Katsav.
Israel has come to view the Islamic republic as its number one enemy and its fears were heightened when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in October called for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map."
Army chief Dan Halutz said the possibility of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons was "the sole existential threat facing the state of Israel." "I suggest that Israel should not consider that this man is crazy. We must take him seriously," he said in an address at Haifa University.
Israel itself is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, although it has never admitted to having a non-conventional arsenal. Iran faces the threat of being referred to the UN Security Council for resuming nuclear fuel research work that Israel and the Western powers fear would give the regime the know-how to build a bomb. Tehran insists such work is legal given it has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has branded atomic weapons "un-Islamic".
Olmert said concerted international pressure could still bring about a diplomatic solution. "I believe that there is a way to prevent non-conventional weapons coming into the hands of those who pose a danger to the entire world," Olmert said. "The Iranian issue is at the top of the agenda for the Israeli government as well as the international community. "It is being dealt within a continuous manner with contacts between the government and those in Europe and the United States."
A source in the prime minister's office said the trip by the Moscow-bound delegation, which includes national security advisor Giora Eiland and the head of Israel's atomic energy commission Gideon Frank, would "enable an exchange of views and information on the state of play with Iran's nuclear programme."
President Vladimir Putin's government, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, has offered to enrich uranium for Iran in Russia in a move designed to allay international concern over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Moscow enjoys close ties with the Iranian leadership and is building Iran's first nuclear power station at Bushehr, but has voiced concern at Tehran's latest move.
Ephraim Kam, an analyst at Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies, said the Israeli government understands that Russia's stance is crucial in keeping Iran in check. "Russia plays a key role in the nuclear programme, that's why Israel is trying to convince Moscow to toughen its position and adopt the firmer stance that we have seen from America and the Europeans. "It also seems that Moscow is not against the sanctions that could be laid down by the Security Council but the real question is what kind of sanctions -- economic measures or merely symbolic?"
Moscow has so far held back from joining the clamour for punitive measures against Iran, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying sanctions were "not the best and by no means the only way to resolve international problems.
Israeli officials have played down the idea of a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities but the outgoing head of military intelligence, Aharon Zeevi, said last month that such a move was "not impossible".
In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's French-built Osirak nuclear reactor.
Ex-Pentagon man gets 12 years in AIPAC case
By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent in Washington and AP
WASHINGTON - Former Pentagon analyst Larry A. Franklin was sentenced Friday to a 12 years and seven months imprisonment for passing classified information to former American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists.
Franklin was also found guilty of sharing classified information with Israeli diplomat Naor Gilon. He was also fined $10,000.
In sentencing Franklin, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said the facts of the case led him to believe that Franklin was motivated primarily by a desire to help the United States, not harm it.
Franklin, 59, had worked with top Pentagon officials, including former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith, and is an expert on Iraq and Iran. Franklin pleaded guilty in October in a plea bargain, and will testify in the trial of former AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman slated to start in April 2005. Franklin's sentence could be then further reduced because of his cooperation with the government.
Rosen and Weissman, who are facing charges of disclosing confidential information to Israel, were fired from AIPAC in 2004.
The judge said that Franklin believed the National Security Council was insufficiently concerned with the threat posed by an unspecified Middle Eastern nation. Franklin thought leaking information might eventually persuade the Security Council to take more serious action, he said.
While the Middle Eastern country was not named in the court record, sources and the facts of the case point to Iran.
Ellis said he viewed Franklin's case differently than a case involving information leaked to the Soviets at height of the Cold War "But not different to the extent of excuse. Not at all," Ellis said.
Franklin at one time worked for Feith, then the Pentagon's No. 3 official, on issues involving the Middle East. During a court appearance last year, Franklin said he would occasionally be questioned directly by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former top Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz on policy issues. As a result, Franklin said, he sometimes took classified information home to stay up to speed. One of the charges to which he pleaded guilty was unlawful retention of classified national defense information.
Franklin admitted that he met periodically with Rosen and Weissman between 2002 and 2004 and discussed classified information, including information about potential attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. Rosen and Weissman would subsequently share what they learned with reporters and Israeli officials.
Rosen was a top lobbyist for Washington-based AIPAC for more than 20 years, and Weissman was the organization's top Iran expert. AIPAC fired them in April and says it has cooperated with the investigation.
Prosecution attorneys said Friday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia they would consider releasing the court from federal sentencing guidelines once Franklin completes his cooperation in the case against Rosen and Weissman.
Franklin asked that he be allowed to serve his sentence at a minimum security prison near his home.
Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon said in reaction "this is an internal American affair. Israel had no connection to the trial and, of course, to its outcome." - haaretz
ADL chief: Franklin affair could pose threat to Jewish lobbyists
By Shlomo Shamir and Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondents
Two days after former Pentagon analyst Larry A. Franklin was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in jail for sharing classified information with pro-Israel lobbyists, several American Jewish community leaders echoed a single refrain: There's reason to worry, but no need to feel like this is a crisis.
Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman said the Franklin affair could potentially pose a threat to all Jewish lobbyists.
Foxman said it is not clear what exactly is allowed in terms of the relationships between the administration and the media and between nongovernmental organizations and foreign governments. The lack of clarity, he said, could have a destructive influence on the activities of all U.S. Jewish groups.
Franklin pleaded guilty in October to sharing the information with AIPAC lobbyists and Israeli diplomat Naor Gilon. Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were fired from AIPAC in 2004, are facing charges of disclosing confidential information to Israel, apparently about Iran.
Some American Jewish leaders are concerned by the influence the trial could have on the relations between Jewish groups and the administration.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said on Sunday that he found Franklin's sentence "disturbing." "The very fact that this kind of climate can exist in the capital of the U.S. is unacceptable," he said at the Herzliya Conference.
Rosen and Weissman, he said, "are two patriotic American citizens working for a Jewish organization, who did nothing to violate the American security."
Bush commits US to defence of Israel
24 January 2006 08:03 - United States President George Bush on Monday committed the US to the defence of Israel against threats from Iran, saying he would not allow the world to be "blackmailed" by an Iranian nuclear weapon.
The president's warning, issued in an exchange with students in Kansas, came at a tense time in relations with Iran, after Tehran vowed to restart nuclear research.
The US is leading a diplomatic attempt to persuade other countries to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for failure to cooperate with UN inspectors. Tehran insists it is interested only in a civilian nuclear-energy programme, and has threatened to return to full-scale production of nuclear fuel if it is referred to the UN.
"I am deeply concerned about Iran, as should a lot of people be concerned about Iran. I am concerned when the country of Iran's president announces his desire to see that Israel gets destroyed," Bush said, referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threat to "wipe Israel off the map".
He added: "Israel is our ally. We're committed to the safety of Israel, and it's a commitment we will keep. "Secondly, I'm concerned about a nontransparent society's desire to develop a nuclear weapon. The world cannot be put in a position where we can be blackmailed by a nuclear weapon. I believe it is very important for the Iranian government to hear loud and clear from not only the United States, but also from other nations around the world."
The president's appearance in Kansas took the form of a short speech followed by an unscripted question-and-answer session of the kind being tried out by Bush's handlers as a means of showing him at his most relaxed and responsive.
He defended his decision to allow wiretaps on telephone calls and e-mails between American residents and foreigners without court warrants, insisting it was legal.
"I'm mindful of your civil liberties and so I had all kinds of lawyers review the process," he told his audience of about 9 000 mostly students and soldiers at Kansas State University.
The president paid tribute to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after being asked by a British questioner whether he had talked to the prime minister about the common perception of him in Britain as Bush's "yes man".
"I'm sorry that his relationship with me causes him political problems at home. You know, sometimes I can be little allergic for people overseas, if you know what I mean," the president said to laughter from a mostly supportive crowd. "I'm aware that that is a criticism of Tony, and I just strongly disagree with that. He's an independent thinker. He and I share this interesting moment in history together, and we also share this deep belief that liberty will transform the world or can transform the world. That's what we believe. In other words, there is a philosophical core of Tony Blair, core beliefs that Tony and I share."
The president listed the issues on which he disagree with Blair, including the Kyoto accord on climate change and the international criminal court, both of which are opposed by Bush. But, the president went on, they agree "strategically, and that's what's important". He said they try to talk once a week.
"And it's a really interesting way to share, just thoughts and concerns," Bush said. "And the British-US relationship is unique. It's been unique in the past. It is unique today. And I'm convinced it will be unique in the future, for the good of the world." -- Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
- Guardian via mg.co.za
Palestinians vote in key election
Palestinians are voting in their first parliamentary election for a decade, with the governing Fatah party facing a strong challenge. The militant Islamic group Hamas is fielding candidates for the first time, and polls suggest they could do well. Hamas does not recognise Israel and has launched hundreds of attacks against its citizens.
Palestinian police are out in force to guard the ballot boxes, while militants have pledged not to disrupt voting. Nearly 1.5m Palestinians are eligible to vote at about 1,000 centres in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In East Jerusalem, where 100,000 Palestinians are eligible to vote, just 6,300 residents are allowed to cast their ballot inside the city, while the remainder have to travel outside Jerusalem's boundaries.
Polls opened at 0700 (0500 GMT) and are set to close at 1900 (1700 GMT).
The BBC's Alan Johnston, at a polling station in a school in Gaza City, said voting got off to a brisk start. About 60 people were waiting to get into the school to vote when the doors opened, while hundreds of people have been queuing at polling stations elsewhere. In other parts of the city, members of Hamas were out in force, greeting voters as they arrived.
Hamas is accusing Fatah of corruption and incompetence, and opinion polls have put the group only a few points behind Fatah. In Rimal neighbourhood, Hamas activists wearing green hats and bandanas held computerised lists of voters and assigned volunteers to drive supporters to the polling station.
Samer Lulu, 29, said he voted for Hamas because he was tired of corruption. "With religious people at least we will have our public money in clean hands," AP news agency quoted him as saying.
In East Jerusalem, voting is taking place at the central post office.
There, an unnamed 34-year-old woman said she voted for Fatah "because I remain faithful to Yasser Arafat," a badge of the late Palestinian leader pinned to her lapel, AFP news agency reported. At one point, a group of right-wing Israeli MPs and their supporters tried to force their way into the post office, but were blocked by Israeli police. Israeli security forces are reported to be keeping a low profile.
On the eve of the vote, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he was determined to ensure the vote was a success and "conducted in a free and honest way". "This great day will be of historic significance, a decisive step on the road to freedom and independence," he said in a televised address.
Israel's acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed the election as an historic opportunity for the Palestinians, but urged voters not to plump for "extremists" - a reference to Hamas. The militant group's involvement has caused serious concern in Israel, the US and Europe, where Hamas is banned as a terrorist organisation.
The BBC's James Reynolds, in Jerusalem, says there is real excitement among Palestinians who have waited a long time to pick their parliament. Many Palestinians say they want to punish Fatah, which is widely seen as ineffective and corrupt, our correspondent says.
Hamas has taken note of what it sees as an opportunity, he says, and has cast aside its hatred of the Palestinian parliament in the hope of converting popular support into a formal political voice. This may show Hamas has added a measure of pragmatism to its arsenal, our correspondent says, but it has not given up its weapons.
The election, which has been repeatedly delayed, is the first since 1996. - BBC
Hamas claims surprise victory in Palestinian election
By Harvey Morris in Gaza City and Sharmila Devi in Ramallah - Published: January 25 2006
The militant Islamist movement Hamas on Thursday claimed overall victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections, a result, which if confirmed, would amount to a massive popular rejection of the ruling Fatah party.
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, said the party had secured up to 75 seats in the newly expanded 132 seat assembly.
Fatah officials were still formulating their response early Thursday to the Islamist group's apparent upset victory and few were willing to make any official statements before a hastily convened crisis meeting.
The Palestinian cabinet submitted their resignations, a technical formality, but a move made unexpected because of its timing before the release of official results expected later in the day. Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, must ask the largest party, Hamas, to form a new government.
Analysts said Hamas's pragmatism would probably push the group towards a coalition government and Salam Fayyad, the former finance minister, was still a favourite as prime minister. Mr Fayyad's independent Third Way party appeared to have won two seats.
Mustafa Barghouti of the Independent Palestine list told the FT that the results caused him "great sadness" and were a punishment for Fatah's "corruption". "This will create a crisis for Hamas if they fail to accomplish what they have promised and when they face criticism, they might not take responsibility for the political outcome."
Ehud Olmert, interim Israeli prime minister, was scheduled to meet defence chiefs later on Thursday. Regional implications were set to be discussed by Shimon Peres, former Israeli prime minister, with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman on Thursday. Tzipi Livni, Israeli justice minister, was scheduled to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak next week.
A sweeping Hamas victory, if confirmed, would be at odds with earlier estimates in line with opinion poll predictions that showed neither party gaining an overall majority. Voting went on overnight and election officials hoped to issue official results by Thursday evening or early Friday.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority's Fatah party president, said he was committed to negotiating with Israel even if Hamas entered government after the close-run elections. "We are ready to negotiate," Mr Abbas said in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "We are partners with the Israelis. They don't have the right to choose their partner. But if they are seeking a Palestinian partner, this partner exists."
In a high turnout - 77.6 per cent of registered voters cast ballots - Palestinians chose one from a list of 11 parties to fill half the seats in a newly expanded 132-seat legislature. These will be awarded proportionately to each faction's share of the vote. On a second ballot paper, voters chose candidates standing in 16 multi-seat constituencies, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, to select the remainder of the assembly.
Ismail Haniya, who leads the Hamas list, dispelled speculation that entering the political mainstream for the first time since its creation in the late 1980s might be a prelude to laying down its arms. "The Europeans and Americans are telling Hamas to choose between its weapons and the parliament," Mr Haniya said. "There is no contradiction between the two."
Israel has said it will not negotiate with Hamas if it fails to disarm. The movement's military wing was responsible for many of the suicide bombings and other attacks that claimed hundreds of Israeli lives during the Palestinian intifada that began in 2000. Although a period of calm, to which Hamas adhered, expired at the turn of the year, it has not subsequently mounted operations against Israeli targets, preparing the ground for the outside chance of an outright Hamas victory.
Ahmed Qurei, the PA's Fatah prime minister, said his party would co-operate with the Islamists. "I hope that the minority will accept the decisions of the majority," he said. "If Hamas wins, they will win and we will stand behind them. This is democracy and we accept the results of the elections."
Political analysts believe that Hamas might prefer to take a back seat, either opting for minor portfolios in a multi-party coalition or remaining in opposition in the short term. Under the leadership of the late Yassir Arafat, the Fatah-dominated parliament was given little leeway to fulfil its twin functions of passing legislation and monitoring the executive. The new legislature, which will include more parties and a powerful group of Fatah reformists, is expected to have a stronger say in Palestinian affairs.
* The Bush administration on Wednesday congratulated the Palestinians on their elections and reiterated the view of the Quartet - the US, EU, Russia and the UN - that a future Palestinian Authority cabinet should not include members who are "not committed to the principles of Israel's right to exist in peace and security and an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism", writes Guy Dinmore in Washington. But Sean McCormack, the state department spokesman, did not rule out working with the Palestinian Authority even if a Hamas member were to be included.
Bush Says U.S. Won't Deal With Hamas
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent 27-01-2006 - WASHINGTON - Stunned by Hamas' decisive election victory, President Bush said Thursday the United States will not deal with the militant Palestinian group as long as it seeks Israel's destruction.
"If your platform is the destruction of Israel it means you're not a partner in peace," the president said. "And we're interested in peace." He urged Hamas to reverse course.
Hamas has taken responsibility for dozens of suicide attacks on Israel over the past five years but has largely observed a cease-fire since the election of Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian president last year. Bush left open the possibility of cutting off U.S. aid to the Palestinians. That was echoed by a nonbinding Senate resolution condemning Hamas and expressing support for halting assistance to the Palestinian government, of which the U.S. is providing $150 million for development this year. The symbolic resolution, crafted by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., says aid should be ended if the party controlling the Palestinian parliament advocates the destruction of Israel, as Hamas does. It was unclear when the Senate would vote on the proposal. House Speaker
Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., issued a similar hint, saying, "Hamas has shown that it prefers terrorism against innocent civilians to pursue its political aims, and the United States should play no role in assisting a majority terrorist parliament."
Bush also called on Abbas, a U.S. ally, to remain in office despite Fatah's defeat by Hamas in parliamentary elections. Abbas, elected separately a year ago, said he was committed to negotiations with Israel and suggested talks would be conducted through the Palestine Liberation Organization, a possible way around a Hamas-led government.
"A political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of its platform is a party with which we will not deal," he said at a White House news conference. But he also said, "Peace is never dead because people want peace."
Washington was shocked by Hamas' landslide victory. Sen. Lindsey Graham (news, bio, voting record), R-S.C., called it "a de-facto declaration of war by the Palestinian people against the state of Israel." Rep. Nita Lowey (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., said the outcome was "very disturbing" and Hamas needed to disarm, denounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the election "casts a serious shadow over the prospects for peace."
The administration scrambled for a diplomatic response to Hamas' victory. The White House found it difficult to criticize the results - as distasteful as they were for the United States - since Bush himself has led the charge for spreading democracy and freedom across the Middle East.
"When you give people the vote, you give people a chance to express themselves at the polls," Bush said. "And if they're unhappy with the status quo, they'll let you know. That's the great thing about democracy."
It's not the first time Bush has faced obstacles in dealing with Palestinians. He refused to meet or talk with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat but dealt with Abbas and others, instead.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a conference call Thursday with other international sponsors of a plan to draw Israelis and Palestinians back to the peace table.
Members of the so-called Quartet - the U.S., the European Union, the United Nations and Russia - issued a statement saying: "The Quartet reiterates its view that there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia activities and the building of a democratic state. A two-state solution to the conflict requires all participants in the democratic process to renounce violence and terror, accept Israel's right to exist, and disarm."
Rice also talked with Abbas and the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni. She will travel to Europe for further consultations Monday. "You cannot have one foot in politics and another in terror," Rice told the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland, via a telephone hookup from the State Department. "Our position on Hamas has therefore not changed." "Palestinian people have apparently voted for change, but we believe their aspirations for peace and a peaceful life remain unchanged," she said. Rice said those goals will require renunciation of violence and terrorism and acceptance of Israel's right to exist side-by-side with a Palestinian state.
Bush said the elections were a wake-up call for the Palestinians' corruption-ridden Fatah Party. "The people are demanding honest government. The people want services," he said. - news.yahoo.com/
Angry Fatah gunmen storm onto parliament roof
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) - Gunmen have fired volleys from the roof of the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah as thousands of Fatah supporters called for party leaders to resign after their defeat in this week's election.
And in Gaza City, hundreds more Fatah party supporters, including security officers, barged into the Gaza Strip's parliamentary compound, firing into the air, an AFP reporter said.
The turmoil, which risks intensifying with Hamas to be charged with forming a new government soon, erupted as the Islamist movement's supreme leader promised that his group would face up to its responsibilities. Thousands of angry Fatah members protested Saturday for the second day over their electoral loss. In the West Bank town of Ramallah, 40 gunmen climbed onto the roof of the parliament, firing into the air to demand that Fatah leaders resign. Militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, loosely affiliated to the party, and around 600 activists then marched to the Palestinian leadership compound, furious with their humiliation in last Wednesday's election.
They erected a Palestinian flag, a yellow Fatah banner and a picture of their late leader, Yasser Arafat, on the roof of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Gunmen fired into the air outside the gates of the Muqataa compound while others entered the courtyard, but without opening fire, in order to pay their respects at Arafat's tomb.
"Dahlan, Abbas, don't participate with Hamas," some chanted, referring to leading Fatah MP Mohammed Dahlan and Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, who has said he will ask Hamas to form a new government. "We will do our best to change our bad leaders for good ones... we will protect Abu Mazen (Abbas)," one Brigade leader, Ramzi Obeid, told journalists.
Hamas's victory in the election, giving it 76 seats to Fatah's 43 in the 132-member parliament, decisively ended the ruling party's decades-long grip on power and thrown into turmoil hopes of bringing peace to the region.
Around 3,000 supporters of Fatah also took to the streets in the troubled northern West Bank town of Nablus to demand the party leadership resign or else be "punished", and to boycott any new Hamas-led government. Some 80 masked Al-Aqsa militants fired rounds into the air and vowed that they would no longer adhere to a de facto Palestinian truce in attacks on Israel. The truce officially expired at the end of 2005.
"Our bullets will go to the head of the occupation and the head of those who hurt the Fatah movement," a masked militant shouted through a megaphone.
A further 1,000 marched through the streets of Tulkarem, calling on Fatah's central committee to resign and for the party not to enter a coalition with Hamas. Fatah failed to get a single MP elected in the city's constituency.
The supreme leader of Hamas, who lives in exile in Syria following an Israeli attempt to assassinate him, announced in Damascus that his movement would prove as effective in politics and reform as in fighting Israel. "We have succeeded in the resistance and we will succeed in politics, reforms and change," Khaled Meshaal told reporters. "We have been chosen by our people and we assume our responsibility," he added, saying Hamas's priorities were to introduce political reform and protect the resistance.
Meshaal charged that Hamas would take account of realities in its approach to Israel, although there was no question of reversing its non-recognition of the Jewish state.
Israel, which pulled out of Hamas's Gaza Strip stronghold last year, has steadfastly rejected talks with the movement which refuses to recognise the Jewish state's right to exist and has carried out scores of suicide attacks. Israel in its turn has carried out targeted killings of Hamas militants and leaders.
In the town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, - [my note: er that's a bit religious isn't it?] -
around 200 masked Al-Aqsa gunmen broke down the door of the empty Fatah headquarters, calling on the local party leadership to resign.
Dozens of Fatah supporters closed off streets in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah, burning tyres and calling for the resignation of the party's central committee, witnesses said. On Friday, nine people, five of them security officers, were wounded in shootouts between Fatah and Hamas gunmen in the volatile southern Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu: Hamas won`t change
Jan 28, 2006, 18:34 GMT TEL AVIV, Israel (UPI) -- Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the hawkish Israeli Likud party, wants to move the security fence farther into the West Bank after the Hamas election victory.
'An extreme Islamic state that seeks to destroy Israel and whose leaders` hands are soiled with Jewish blood ... is emerging,' the former prime minister said.
Netanyahu dismissed the view that governing might make Hamas more moderate, comparing the Islamist group to Afghanistan`s Taliban and the religious hard-liners in Iran. While many leaders in politics and the press echoed Netanyahu`s harder line, some advocated restraint. Shimon Peres urged Hamas 'to form a coalition with reality.'
Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shabak Security Service, also suggested that Hamas be given a chance to prove itself.
'We should all remember they were not born with a desire to kill Israelis,' Dichter wrote.
Dichter said that Hamas militants became killers because it was popular and then shifted to an electoral strategy because Israel`s targeted assassinations made violence too expensive. - UPI via M&C
Merkel says Iran threatens democratic world
By Louis Charbonneau JERUSALEM, Jan 29 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her first visit to Israel on Sunday to deliver a strong criticism of Iran, saying it threatens not only the Jewish state but the entire democratic world.
Merkel spoke after meeting interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who expressed Israel's concern at Iran's nuclear programme. Israel, the United States and the European Union accuse Iran of trying to build an atom bomb. Tehran denies this.
"Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but also to the democratic countries of this world," Merkel said. She said Germany and Israel were in total agreement on the subject of Tehran's plans to produce nuclear fuel by enriching uranium, a process of purifying uranium for use in atomic power plants or weapons. "I don't see the slightest difference in the views of Germany and Israel," Merkel said. "It is clear that Iran should not get the ability to enrich uranium."
Israel sees Iran's nuclear programme as a threat to its existence and has even hinted that it could use military force to prevent Tehran from getting a bomb.
Merkel also condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his anti-Israeli remarks. Ahmadinejad has said the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map" and doubted that six million Jews had been killed by the Nazis during World War Two.
"It's unacceptable that Iran's president rejects and falsifies history," she said.
Germany, France and Britain have been trying for more than two years to persuade Tehran to give up enrichment in exchange for political and economic incentives but Iran has refused.
The EU3 have now joined Washington in calling for the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions, to take up the matter. On Monday, senior EU3 officials meet with U.S., Russian and Chinese officials in London to discuss Iran.
On the same day, Iran will meet diplomats from Britain, France and Germany in Brussels, a Tehran foreign ministry spokesman said. Iran insisted on Sunday the only solution to its nuclear dispute with the West was negotiations rather than referral of its atomic dossier to the United Nations Security Council.
"The only way to reach an understanding and to get out of the current situation is talks," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference in Tehran.
Speaking to reporters en route to London, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday's meeting in London would look at many issues, including referral of Iran to the Council as well as a Russian compromise proposal which involves enriching uranium in Russia on behalf of Iran. Rice said the Russian proposal had been on the table for some time and it was interesting the Iranians were becoming more interested in it the closer a possible vote came on sending Tehran to the Security Council. "I think that says something about how really interested the Iranians are in the Russian proposal," she said.
Olmert thanked Merkel for supporting Israel on the question of Iran's nuclear programme, saying: "It is a topic that causes great concern here in Israel." Olmert, who has been acting Israeli prime minister since Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke on Jan. 4, also thanked her for shunning the Islamist militant group Hamas, which won this week's election in the Palestinian territories.
Although she will not meet Hamas, Merkel will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday. This will make her the first EU leader to visit the Palestinian territories since the election.
Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and the group has carried out nearly 60 suicide bombings in Israel since the start of a Palestinian uprising in 2000. - alertnet.org
Subtle, isn't it?
Iran already has the bomb
Uri Dan, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 31, 2006
Rafi Eitan suspects that Iran already has enough enriched uranium fissionable material to manufacture at least one or two atom bombs of the Hiroshima type. "Otherwise Iranian President Ahmadinejad would not have dared come out with his declaration that Israel should be wiped off the map," repeating it in various versions. His efforts at denying the Holocaust in which six million Jews were slaughtered prove that there is method in Ahmadinejad's madness. "Don't treat him like a madman," Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz recently cautioned.
Eitan's assessment of the situation is especially important because of his extensive intelligence experience in Israel's struggle for its existence, even before its establishment in 1948. Eitan was among those that laid the operational foundations for the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad.
He is credited with numerous successes above and beyond the fact that he headed the team that apprehended Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires in May 1960 and brought him to justice in Jerusalem. He served as Menachem Begin's special adviser on the war on terror. He was involved in the secret planning and implementation of the attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in June 1981.
Eitan failed in 1985 when the United States arrested Jonathan Pollard, an American navy intelligence analyst, for spying for Israel. Eitan was forced to resign after taking responsibility for running Pollard as an Israeli agent in the United States. It emerged at that time that Eitan had stood at the head of an Israeli intelligence agency known as the Office of Scientific Relations, LAKAM by its Hebrew acronym.
EITAN, CURRENTLY a private businessman who is close to 80 years old, is not only still sharp, quick and curious, but also takes a strong interest in the dangers posed to Israel. And so he came this week to the Herzliya Conference to hear the lectures and meet with colleagues from other countries.
Eitan told me: "I am convinced that the Iranians already have at least one or two nuclear devices. They have been operating centrifuges for a number of years now, they have natural uranium, and who on earth believes the Iranians when they say that they have closed down one facility or another? You would have to be an idiot or terribly na ve to believe them."
Eitan says that this view was bolstered by conversations he held with various experts from abroad who came to the Herzliya Conference - that Iran already has a an atom bomb. What should concern not only Israel but Europe too, continues Eitan, is the fact that the Iranians have acquired cruise missiles with a 3,000-kilometer range. They tried to purchase nine missiles of this kind in Ukraine from the arsenal of the former Soviet Union, but Russia thwarted part of the deal and Iran received three or four such missiles.
"In an argument with colleagues from abroad," noted Rafi Eitan, "the question was whether Iran's current president is a sort of new Hitler or merely an international manipulator. Too many experts have judged him in accordance with his actions and declarations as a kind of extremist Islamist Hitler."
The American administration of George W. Bush is entirely aware of the burgeoning Iranian nuclear danger. The question is whether the leading countries in Europe will wake up in time to the danger too. "The diplomatic struggle against the Iranian nuclear danger," warns Eitan, "must be an international one and it must come in time. The danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of Teheran is no less serious than when Saddam Hussein built the French Osirak nuclear reactor in Baghdad."
What worries Rafi Eitan is that the news coming from Teheran shows that President Ahmadinejad will not hesitate to take the most extreme measures, not unlike the methods used in the Third Reich, to put down any opposition against him. Iran has hundreds of thousands of young people who are opposed to the conceptual and cultural darkness that the fundamental Islamists are forcing on them. "Don't be surprised," Rafi Eitan told me, "if the Iranian president tries to forcibly and brutally eliminate this opposition." - Jerusalem post
Putin's Comments on Hamas Spark Row Between Russia, Israel - Paper
02.02.2006 - MosNews - Russia and Israel are on the verge of a diplomatic row after President Putin stated at a personal press-conference that Russia never viewed Hamas as a terrorist organization.
According to Moscow Kommersant daily, Israeli officials were shocked by Putin openly supporting Palestinian terrorists.
Commenting on Hamas recent victory at the Palestinian legislative elections at a press conference Tuesday, Putin said Russia never declared Hamas a terrorist organization, although it never supported its actions. The West should not cut financial aid because of the Hamas's victory in the elections, he added.
"Hamas must refrain from radical statements, recognize Israel's right to exist, and establish contacts with the international community," Putin said. "We're calling upon Hamas to consistently work in that direction."
However recognizing Israel was just one of the three issues that the international community demands from Hamas in an agreement that Putin has also signed. Hamas has to be committed to three issues - to stop violence, to follow all the agreements signed with Israel and to recognize the existence of Israel.
Israeli authorities cannot accept a position that assesses terrorism in different countries differently.
"Hamas terror actions have killed more than 550 Israelis, many of them of Russian origin. We cannot see the difference between a bus explosion in Jerusalem and a terrorist attack in Moscow or Beslan," unnamed Israely diplomat was quoted by Kommersant as saying.
Israeli Says Arrow Missile Can Hit Iranian Shihab Missiles
by Martin Sieff - UPI Senior News Analyst Washington (UPI) Mar 09, 2006
Senior Israeli defense officials are publicly proclaiming the reliability of their Arrow anti-ballistic missile interceptor in what appears to be a clear deterrence warning to Iran not to try and launch any nuclear missile strike against the Jewish state.
The Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile system is capable of intercepting and destroying any Iranian missiles, even were they to carry nuclear warheads, a high-ranking Israel Defense Forces officer told The Jerusalem Post.
While Iran was now Israel's most serious strategic and existential threat, Israel was sufficiently protected by the Arrow, which plays a major role in maintaining Israel's protective envelope, he said.
"We will shoot all of [Iran's missiles] down," he told the Post. "The Arrow knows how to intercept the Shihab missile."
The increased Israeli confidence follows an ambitious crash program that was undertaken last year to upgrade the Arrow, which is co-produced by Israeli Aircraft industries and Boeing.
Appearing before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last year Brig. Gen. Ilan Bitton -- head of Israel's Air Defense Forces -- admitted that while the Arrow was highly effective against the Scud missiles that make up most of Syria's arsenal, it "needed improvement" to face the challenges posed by Iran's Shihab-3.
However, in December 2005, Israel carried out a highly successful test of the upgraded Arrow-2 system against a ballistic missile configured to perform like a Shihab-3. Reflecting the success of that test, the Israeli officer it was now able to detect even a missile carrying a split warhead and armed with decoys meant to fool the anti-missile system.
Asked about the danger of the Arrow taking out a non-conventional or nuclear missile over Israel, the officer said that the incoming missile would be destroyed at such a high altitude that it would disperse and destroy its payload without causing any casualties, the Jerusalem Post said.
"There is constant pressure to always stay a step ahead of our adversaries," the officer told the paper. "They developed decoys on their missiles and we developed ways to detect the decoys and to be able to accurately strike the incoming threat."
The Arrow 2 was last tested in December and succeeded in intercepting an incoming rocket simulating an Iranian Shihab at an altitude higher than ever before tested in the previous 13 Arrow launches. While the Arrow was Israel's first line of defense against an Iranian-launched missile, air force Patriot batteries -- known for their action during the first Gulf War -- also followed incoming missiles and served as the country's back-up interception system.
Israel has at least two operational Arrow batteries, with reportedly hundreds of missiles for each battery. One is stationed at Palmahim to protect Tel Aviv and the other is at Ein Shemer near Hadera in the north, the Jerusalem Post said. - spacewar.com
Isreal need to look tough ahead of elections
Some 2,000 Palestinians banned from entering Jordan Valley
By Akiva Eldar
Israel is preventing some 2,000 Palestinians who have left the Jordan Valley from returning to the area, in an effort to keep them from demanding their land back.
Thousands of dunams of land have been illegally transferred to settlements and army bases in the area.
The Civil Administration has confirmed the existence of a list that had been known as the "List of 100," which now bears the names of the 2,000 banned Palestinians. All the requests of the people on the list to return to the territories under the principle of family unification, or even for short visits, have been rejected for about 30 years, when the ban was first instituted. The Civil Administration cites security concerns as the reason for its rejections.
In his testimony before the commission of inquiry into the evacuation of the illegal West Bank settlement of Amona, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has defined the establishment of settlements on private land as "land theft."
The previous head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier General Ilan Paz, issued orders more than a year ago to shelve the list, but due to a policy of closing off the Jordan River bridges to Palestinians a short time after the intifada began, Israel also banned entry to Palestinians with land in the Jordan Valley.
Using the absentee property to establish settlements and handing them over to Israeli farmers contravenes the law in effect in the territories. The law states that absentee property cannot be allotted for civil use and must be handed over for safekeeping to the Civil Administration official responsible for government property, a representative of the custodian general.
The Histadrut Hazionit, which serves as the government's settlement body, generally carries out the handover. Legal advisers for the Judea and Samaria region have noted the illegality of the handover and suggested promising financial support in cases of lawsuits filed by the Palestinian landowners.
In an opinion written in October 2003, the attorney general said that if the matter reached the courts before it was resolved elsewhere, a chain reaction could be expected to take place that would "place the entire land area of the relevant communities at risk."
The settlement authorities apparently did not report to the house and land buyers, or to the mortgage banks that issued them loans, that they were involved in what was essentially land theft, as per Mazuz's definition.
According to the most recent state comptroller's report and military sources, the Jordan Valley land that has been handed over for the illegal construction of settlements and army bases amounts to thousands of dunams. Allocation for security purposes requires a specific injunction; but in several instances, the Israel Defense Forces has taken control of property without the necessary authorization.
In a few instances, the absentee property has been transferred to Palestinian residents living in the area, in exchange for plots of land they owned.
The Civil Administration said it was studying the comptroller's report and was working to fix the problems cited in the report. -
Israeli Forces Raid Jericho Jail
SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer JERICHO, West Bank - Palestinian prisoners surrendered to Israeli forces after the soldiers burst into their jail in the West Bank town of Jericho on Tuesday in a deadly bid to gain custody of militants convicted of killing an Israeli Cabinet minister. But the targets of the siege apparently refused to come out despite Israel's threats to kill them.
During the operation, a Palestinian officer and a prisoner were killed in a shootout between Palestinian police and Israeli forces, Palestinian security officials said.
Several hours into the raid, the first Palestinian prisoners came out wearing just their underwear, having been ordered to strip down. The top wanted man was not among them, witnesses said. The operation was the most high-profile Israeli incursion into a Palestinian town in months and came just two weeks before Israel holds hard-fought national elections. Palestinians condemned the raid as a campaign stunt, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the United States and British governments.
U.S. and British observers who had monitored the jail for the past four years withdrew early Tuesday morning - just before the raid - citing security concerns. The Israeli government ordered the raid because the monitors were withdrawn, the army said, blaming the Palestinians for violating the agreement regarding the prisoners.
Dozens of prisoners in their underwear came out of the prison building, where they were being searched and blindfolded by Israeli troops. Some of them were taken away. None of them appeared to be the six targeted men. - news.yahoo.com
6 foreigners kidnapped by Palestinian militants
GAZA, March 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Palestinian militants kidnapped six foreigners, including four Americans and two French women, in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, and demanding an immediate halt of an on-going Israeli raid on a West Bank prison.
A group, calling itself "Jivara Gaza" which is affiliated with the Popular front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claimed responsibility for the abduction.
The group's spokesman Abu Ra'aed told a local Palestinian radio that his group kidnapped four Americans, who were employees at the Elite American School in the northern Gaza Strip, and two Frenchwomen in the Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip. The group threatened to hurt the hostages if the Israeli army did not halt its operation at a major prison in the West Bank town of Jericho.
Earlier in the day, Israeli troops surrounded and stormed into the Jericho prison, demanding the surrender of six militants jailed there, including PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat.
Israel has accused Saadat of ordering the assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001 and the Palestinian militant has been jailed since August 2002.
Armed Palestinians also stormed British and U.S. office buildings in the Gaza Strip and set fire to the British cultural center in Gaza City in protest against the Israeli operation. xinhuanet
Hamas leader warns Israel against harming Saadat
DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal warned Israel on Tuesday not to harm a jailed Palestinian militant, saying it would be responsible for the consequences of its raid on a West Bank prison. Speaking on Al Jazeera television, Meshaal also called on Palestinians to rally around the Jericho jail being bombarded by Israeli troops trying to seize militant leader Ahmed Saadat, accused of killing an Israeli minister.
"We condemn this Israeli crime and hold Israel responsible for any consequences arising from this crime and warn them against harming Ahmed Saadat... and all the prisoners in Jericho," said Meshaal, who is in Saudi Arabia for talks with the world's largest Islamic organisation. "I call on our people in Jericho to throng around the Jericho prison," he added. "Our people will not forgive the Zionists and we will not let this crime pass. If... they harm Saadat, there will be a huge Palestinian and Arab reaction."
Israeli forces blasted their way into the West Bank prison to try to seize Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), storming in after U.S. and British monitors withdrew. Both Meshaal and Saadat accused the foreign monitors of conspiring with the Israeli forces.
Meshaal called on the United Nations, Muslim and Arab countries, and the international community to "take urgent measures to stop this crime". "This is required from the United States, from Egypt and Jordan who have ties with Israel and have always said the these are of benefit at times of crisis," said Meshaal, who also called on Russia to help.
Palestinian adviser Nabil Abu Rdainah told Al Jazeera that President Mahmoud Abbas had contacted the United States and Europe to help end the Israeli army's siege.
"The president is very angry and calls on the international community to quickly intervene to save lives," Abu Rdainah said. "The president condemns this attempt especially that there is an agreement and we are abiding by it."
Palestinian officials said a guard and a prisoner were killed in clashes at Jericho prison, which also houses other senior militants held under foreign supervision. - alertnet.org
British office in Gaza set alight
14th March 2006 -
Palestinian protesters have set fire to the British Council office in Gaza City, angry that UK prison monitors withdrew from a Jericho jail. Israeli forces have taken control of the prison in the West Bank town and killed a guard, demanding the handover of militant leader Ahmed Saadat. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas criticised the US and UK for pulling out the prison inspectors.
But the UK government said it acted due to fears for their security.
The prison raid has triggered a wave of violence across occupied territories, directed mainly at Western targets. The Foreign Office is warning against all travel to the occupied territories. Crowds also attacked the British Council office in Ramallah in the West Bank, although no members of staff are believed to have been hurt in either incident. And a branch of HSBC in Ramallah was also attacked.
Sir David Green, director general of the British Council, told BBC News the building in Gaza had been "very badly damaged". Masked gunmen came into the building and started firing shots in the information centre, he said, but a large group from the presidential guard arrived and staff were vacated. But the situation deteriorated, Sir David said, when a larger number of demonstrators, many of them armed, arrived and the building set on fire. "And according to our centre manger both the ground floor and the second floor are completely burnt out."
The incident was sparked by the raid by Israeli troops on the prison in the West Bank town of Jericho. The Israelis demanded the handover of militant leader Ahmed Saadat, thought to be behind the killing of an Israeli cabinet minister. Mr Saadat is normally guarded by British and US prison monitors, in addition to Palestinian jailers, but they were withdrawn on Tuesday for what they described as security reasons. Some prisoners were eventually marched out of the jail by Israeli forces, but others, including Mr Saadat, have refused to surrender.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said prison monitors had been removed because the Palestinian Authority had ignored repeated requests to guarantee their safety. "Ultimately the safety of our personnel has to take precedence," he said.
Mike Gapes, chairman of the Foreign Affairs select committee, said the British government had repeatedly warned it was unhappy about the safety of wardens.
Ahmed Saadat's lawyer Daniel Machover told BBC News he was "extremely distressed" by the UK's decision to withdraw its monitors, in place because of an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the US and UK. "The British monitors withdrew and placed Mr Saadat at great risk of being summarily executed because the Israeli authorities have made it clear that's what they would do if he was going to be released," he said. "Mr Saadat has never been prosecuted or convicted of any offence." - BBC
Jericho raid gives Olmert pre-election boost -polls
By Megan Goldin JERUSALEM, March 16 (Reuters) - Israel's seizure of a radical Palestinian leader in a prison raid boosted interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in opinion polls published on Thursday ahead of a March 28 election they predict he will win.
In fresh violence in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli soldier involved in a raid to capture militants in the city of Jenin, and militants shot and wounded two Israeli motorists near a Jewish settlement.
Pointing to a "Jericho effect", a survey on Army Radio gave Olmert's front-running Kadima party 43 seats in the 120-member parliament, a six-seat jump which the poll attributed to public support for Tuesday's operation in the West Bank city.
"This effect, in my opinion, will wear off over the next day or two," Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party which is struggling in third place, told Army Radio.
Opinion polls in several newspapers predicted a smaller increase, to 38 or 39 seats, for centrist Kadima following the day-long assault in which Israeli forces seized Ahmed Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Support for Kadima had slipped slightly in recent weeks after a sympathy surge that followed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's crippling stroke on Jan. 4, which left him in a coma.
According to the new polls, the centre-left Labour Party and Likud were showing no sign of gaining momentum ahead of election day. Both parties remained relatively stable with about 19 seats for Labour and 15 for Likud.
The Jericho raid, following the pullout of foreign monitors supervising Saadat's incarceration under a 2002 deal that ended an Israeli siege of Yasser Arafat's West Bank compound, was widely seen as having burnished Olmert's security credentials. Israel accuses Saadat of ordering the 2001 assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. The PFLP said it killed Zeevi to avenge Israel's killing of one of its leaders. The PFLP and Hamas, winner of the Jan. 25 Palestinian election, have vowed to take revenge for the prison raid.
The latest opinion polls were also the first taken after Olmert said last week he planned to set Israel's permanent borders unilaterally by 2010 by uprooting isolated settlements and expanding major enclaves unless the militant Islamist Hamas movement renounced violence and recognised the Jewish state.
Olmert has pledged an uncomprising fight against militants.
ln the Jenin operation, the army said it detained five wanted Palestinians. Palestinian security sources said four of the men belonged to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of the Fatah movement, and one was a member of Islamic Jihad.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a visit to Australia, urged Israel and the Palestinians to exercise "calm and restraint" following the prison raid that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned as an unforgiveable crime.
The seizure of Saadat, 51, was another headache for Abbas, already shaken by the election victory of Hamas, which is preparing to head a new government.
Hamas has courted Abbas's Fatah faction in hope of forming a governing coalition. It has rejected Fatah calls to abandon violence and accept peacemaking with Israel.
Fatah and Hamas were expected to reconvene for talks on Thursday. But signalling that the impasse might not be bridged, a Hamas spokesman said his group, formally sworn to the Jewish state's destruction, would make a "final offer" to Fatah.
Whatever the outcome with Fatah, Hamas could announce a new government as early as Saturday, Hamas sources said. - alertnet.org
Hamas to announce government
ISN SECURITY WATCH (Friday, 17 March: 11.32 CET) – Hamas is set to submit its governing cabinet to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, according to Al Jazeera.
A spokesman for the militant Islamic group, Salah al-Bardaweel, told reporters on Friday, "The government will be ready tomorrow with its formation and its ministers but we will not announce the government before we hand it over to the president."
The list of ministers will be submitted to Abbas on Saturday if he goes ahead with a planned visit to the Gaza Strip al-Bardaweel confirmed.
Abbas is scheduled to hold talks with Hamas officials that are likely to include Mahmoud al-Zahar, who Hamas sources confirmed would be named the new foreign minister.
Al Jazeera notes that Israel has previously tried to assassinate al-Zahar.
Fellow Hamas leader Saeed Seyam is to be named the new interior minister, giving him control over three Palestinian security agencies, which Abbas agreed to yield to the militant group despite resistance from within his Fatah party and the security forces.
Hamas has been unable to attract any other party to join the government following its sweeping victory in January's Palestinian Legislative Council elections.
Hamas held talks with several small parties on Thursday without succeeding in brining them into the governing coalition. It was thought that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had been enticed into joining the government but it seems now that none of its members will be included in the cabinet line-up.
Hamas has so far resisted calls from Abbas to abide by peace agreements signed by the PA and to recognize Israel.
Major bird flu outbreak feared in Israel
17/03/2006 - About 11,000 turkeys have died in what Israeli officials suspect is the country's first outbreak of the dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu, and officials will decide within hours whether to destroy tens of thousands of other birds, they said today.
After preliminary tests, Health Minister Yaakov Edri told Army Radio there was a "very high chance that this is avian flu." "We are already pretty sure it is avian flu, but of course, there are more tests to be done," Edri said.
An Agriculture Ministry spokeswoman, Dafna Yarisca, told The Associated Press it could take anywhere from hours to days until final results were in. The suspected outbreak in Israel was centred on the Negev Desert farming community of Ein Hashlosha and the nearby community of Holit, where thousands of turkeys died. Officials imposed a quarantine in a radius of seven kilometres (four miles) around the area, and were prepared to destroy flocks in a radius of three kilometres (two miles) if suspicions are confirmed, Edri said.
"In the coming hours we will decide whether to destroy birds; if further steps are required, we will take them. ... We're talking about tens of thousands of birds," he said. No cases of human illness have been reported, Edri said. If deadly avian flu is confirmed, and in the unlikely event it spreads to humans, Israel has vaccinations for half a million of its seven million people, he said.
Health officials fear H5N1 could evolve into a virus that can be transmitted easily between people and become a global pandemic, but there has been no confirmation of this happening yet. At least 97 people have died from the disease worldwide, with most victims infected directly by sick birds.
Ein Hashlosha is about two kilometres (one mile) from central Gaza, and Holit is 15 kilometres (nine miles) to the southwest, about two kilometres (one mile) from southern Gaza.
Yarisca said Israel, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, regularly tests chickens from Gaza for avian flu, and so far, the flocks there have aroused no cause for concern.
The H5N1 virus was detected in neighbouring Egypt last month, and Agriculture Minister Zeev Boim said yesterday that the death of the birds in southern Israel might indicate the disease entered Israel from Egypt.
The H5N1 strain has killed or forced the slaughter of tens of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia since 2003, and recently spread to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Officials said there was no danger of infection from eating cooked chicken, turkey or eggs.
Britain condemns Israel over fatal shooting of a child
By Harry de Quetteville in Jerusalem (Filed: 19/03/2006)
The Foreign Office condemned Israel yesterday after a young Palestinian girl was killed in a what her family describe as a hail of bullets in the northern West Bank on Friday.
Akbar Zayed, reported to be eight years old, was with her uncle on her way to a doctor's appointment when the pair drove into an Israeli military operation to seize militants near the town of Jenin. The Israeli army, after an initial inquiry, said its soldiers called on Akbar's uncle to stop before they opened fire at his car's wheels. But in hospital, where he was recovering from gunshot wounds to his arm and leg, Kamal Zayed gave a conflicting account of events.
He said that three Israeli soldiers, from an arrest team of more than 30, opened fire on his car before he had the chance to respond to their shouted orders. "The first bullet hit my niece. She got a bullet in the head from the very beginning," he said.
No one was arrested during the operation. The Foreign Office minister, Douglas Alexander, urged Israel to show restraint. He said: "We condemn the killing on 17 March of a Palestinian child in the Occupied Territories. Israeli actions in the Occupied Territories must be proportionate and in accordance with international law."
The condemnation was made just days after British monitors withdrew from a Palestinian jail, prompting an Israeli army raid in which six senior militants were seized. The speed of the army's intervention prompted accusations of British collusion and furious anti-British demonstrations in the Palestinian territories.
According to B'Tselem, the respected Israeli human rights group, Akbar Zayed is the 3,396th Palestinian to have been killed by Israel since the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, in 2000. It says the number of Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by Palestinians during that time is 994. Of the Palestinians to have died, 683 were minors, according to B'Tselem.
Earlier this month three Palestinian children - aged seven, 14 and 16 - were killed by gunfire from an Israeli helicopter in Gaza, during the targeted assassination of an Islamic Jihad leader. A fourth child, Amer Hassan Hassan Basuni, 16, was killed by an Israeli sniper in Nablus.
The Knesset composition in early March 2006. (Ariel Barazani)
In this deeply factionalized country it is telling to see how the various ethnic groups voted in 2003:
National Religious Party: 4.6%
National Unity (Haichud HaLeumi): 6.0%
Am Ehad: 2.4%
Torah and Shabbat Judaism: 4.8%
Yisrael B`Aliya: 2.4%
Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash): 10.9%
National Democratic Assembly (Balad): 6.0%
National Unity (Haichud HaLeumi): 3.9%
Am Ehad: 13.6%
United Arab List: 4.3%
Torah and Shabbat Judaism: 2.4%
Yisrael B`Aliya: 1.7%
Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash): 9.6%
National Democratic Assembly (Balad): 8.0%
Am Ehad: 5.1%
United Arab List: 46.2%
Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash): 26.8%
National Democratic Assembly (Balad): 19.8%
Am Ehad: 5.7%
United Arab List: 18.6%
(The remaining votes were either empty ballot papers or they went to parties that did not pass the electoral threshold.)
The total population that voted: 3,200,773 (67.8% of the electorate). 62% of the Arab population voted that day.
Dark horse emerges in Israeli election
By Harvey Morris in Ashdod, Israel Published: March 24 2006
Avigdor Lieberman, a burly, bearded former Moldovan known by the unlikely sobriquet of "Yvette", is emerging as the dark horse of next week's Israeli election.
With his support growing among the country's million-strong Russian immigrant community, the 48-year-old far-rightist is revelling in the prospect of playing power-broker in coalition negotiations that will follow Tuesday's vote.
Opinion polls show his Yisrael Beitenu – Israel Our Home – party winning around 10 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Members of his overwhelmingly Russian constituency say this could rise to 15, elevating the party to third place ahead of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud.
In the January 2003 election, the more than one in six of the Israeli population who came from the former Soviet Union voted overwhelmingly for Ariel Sharon. But with his departure from political life following a stroke three months ago, the "Russians" are returning to sectarian politics.
"With Sharon out of the picture, people are coming back to their own community – and that means Lieberman," said Larissa Lanina, Yisrael Beitenu's campaign manager in the coastal city of Ashdod where around 40 per cent of the population is Russian.
With a world view that rejected socialism and Palestinians in equal measure, the immigrants embraced Mr Sharon for his tough policies as well as his Russian origins.
"They saw him as a combination of Winston Churchill and Marshal Zhukov," said Marina Solodkin, a Russian-born government minister who is trying to stem the haemorrhage of immigrant votes from the ruling Kadima towards Mr Lieberman's party.
It is a constituency apparently undeterred by Mr Lieberman's past demands for Arabs to be transferred out of Israel or by former relationships with members of the Russian community who have subsequently been involved in crime.
"Lieberman represents the thinking of the Russians," said Mary Bruskin, an Ashdod municipal building commissioner who left Lithuania in 1972. "I liked Sharon, but now we have Ehud Olmert and he doesn't show us a clear path in the future."
According to Ms Solodkin, no Israeli party can aspire to rule without solid Russian immigrant support.
She says Mr Olmert's Kadima can count on 30 per cent of the Russian vote but acknowledges that, under Mr Sharon, it was 50 per cent. "Kadima people are those who have succeeded and who don't want to see a replica of Russian society here."
She said many Russian immigrants had turned their backs on Likud in reaction to the welfare cuts Mr Netanyahu imposed as finance minister, measures that disproportionately hit the Russian sector, with its high number of single mothers.
Few, however, have switched their votes to Labour, whose new leader, Amir Peretz, is ridiculed in the Russian-language press not only as a Moroccan and a socialist but also – with his trademark moustache – as the spitting image of Stalin.
That has left the field open to Mr Lieberman, a former minister and chief-of-staff to Mr Netanyahu, who spent eight years in Likud. Denounced as a racist and a fascist by Israel's liberal elite, he has somewhat tempered his rhetoric in the run-up to the election.
The man who has in the past called for the bombing of Egypt's Aswan dam and the invasion of Palestinian cities has come up with a plan to hand predominantly Arab-populated areas of northern Israel to Palestinian control in return for large swathes of the West Bank.
Although the plan overlooks the possible objections of those living in such areas, it is not fundamentally different from more mainstream proposals for territorial swaps. It is also in tune with a more general desire within the Israeli electorate to see a separation between the Jewish and Palestinian communities that is nowhere stronger than among the Russians.
"I don't want Arabs in Ashdod," said Ms Lanina. "Let them stay in Gaza where they belong."
Mr Lieberman has spoken out against Mr Olmert's plans for further unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank but has left the door open to a coalition partnership with the Kadima leader if the terms are right.
He told the liberal daily Haaretz he would demand the public security portfolio. Despite his own previous run-ins with the country's public order institutions, he has promised to lead them in their fight against Israel's Chicago-style organised crime. - news.ft.com
would Palastinians aim to kill Bedouin Arabs?
Three die during Israeli voting
2006/03/28 - Two Israelis have been killed in a blast thought to have been caused by a homemade rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip. The explosion occurred near Nahal Oz farming community just a few hundred metres east of the Gaza Strip. Israeli medics said the two casualties were Bedouin Arab shepherds.
In other violence, as Israelis vote in a closely-watched general election, Israeli troops killed one Palestinian militant in a raid in the West Bank. Samer Freihat, 24, was hit by an Israeli bullet after clashes broke out in the village of Yamun, near Jenin, Palestinian medics said. Palestinian radio said he was shot several times and left to bleed for several hours before he died. An Israeli army spokesman said troops had opened fire after seeing Freihat was armed, adding that he had been on a list of wanted militants.
In Gaza the Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the Nahal Oz blast - which killed a father and his 16-year-old son - saying it had timed a rocket attack to disrupt the election in Israel.
The Israeli army said the explosion might have been caused by a rocket that had lain dormant for some time. However, the army did confirm that three rockets had been fired from Gaza during the day.
Palestinian militants frequently fire makeshift rockets from the Gaza Strip, but only rarely to they cause Israeli casualties and often the explosives are not detonated on impact. Tuesday's victims were Bedouin Arabs, who make up about 10% of Israel's Arab community, which itself represents about one-fifth of Israel's total population.
Victory for Olmert as Israel moves to the centre
By Harvey Morris and Sharmila Devi in Jerusalem - Published: March 28 2006
Ehud Olmert declared victory early on Wednesday for the new centrist Kadima party in Israel's general elections, and pledged to lead a coalition that would set the country's final borders.
With more than 99 per cent of votes counted, the party founded only five months ago by the ailing Ariel Sharon, had secured 28 seats in the 120-Knesset. It was at the lower end of expectations but enough to give Mr Olmert leadership of a predominantly centre-left government in likely partnership with Labour which won 20 seats.
Likud, the former ruling right-wing party that Mr Sharon and Mr Olmert quit last November, was pushed into an ignominious fifth place, with 11 seats, behind the ultra-Orthodox Shas (13) and Yisrael Beitenu (12), a predominantly Russian immigrant party.
Shas, along with Labour is a potential coalition partner, as is the newly formed Pensioners party, a single issue faction that came from nowhere in recent weeks to secure seven seats.
In his victory speech shortly after midnight, Mr Olmert, who took over as acting prime minister when Mr Sharon suffered a stroke three months ago, said: "In the coming period we will move to set the final borders of the state of Israel, a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. We will try to achieve this in an agreement with the Palestinians. This is our hope and prayer."
The big shock was the virtual meltdown of support for Likud party, which looked likely to be pushed into fourth place by Yisrael Beitenu, a predominantly Russian immigrant party headed by Avigdor Lieberman which appeared to have won 12 seats.
Leaders of Mr Peretz's Labour said the party's showing, which might put him in line for a senior coalition cabinet post, was a victory for his social agenda to defend the poor.
Final results were likely to confirm Israel's shift to the centre in a political realignment analysts have dubbed the Big Bang, sparked by Mr Sharon's defection from the rightwing Likud last year. But with a turnout of 63.3 per cent, the lowest in an Israeli general election, the outcome also reflected uncertainty after decades of more clear-cut left-right politics. - news.ft.com
business as usual
Army, navy pound Gaza Strip Qassam launch sites
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 05:54 02/04/2006
The Israel Defense Force has been pounding the northern Gaza Strip with a massive artillery, air and naval attack for the past 48 hours, targeting Qassam launch sites. Meanwhile, the government has directed the IDF to cut off all contact with the Palestinian security forces under the authority of the Hamas government, sworn in last week in the Palestinian Authority.
The U.S. government announced Friday it was cutting off contact with Hamas, but would maintain links with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
IDF artillery hit the northern Gaza Strip with more than 150 shells Saturday, with Israeli gunboats taking part in the attack for the first time. The air force hit open areas of the northern Strip, along with a number of buildings the army said had sheltered rocket launchers.
In spite of the attack, six Qassams were fired Saturday at the Negev. No damage or injury was reported.
Despite an IDF warning on Friday night, Palestinian police did not leave their posts in the area of the evacuated settlements in the northern Strip. One post was hit Saturday by IDF fire.
An officer on the IDF General Staff told Haaretz Saturday, "Gaza has a new government and we expect it to enforce quiet. If the rocket fire persists, severe punitive measures will be taken.
"If need be," he added, we will take much more serious steps."
THe IDF has already reduced the safe distance set for artillery aimed toward Palestinian residential areas. If the situation escalates, the General Staff has not ruled out steps that will cause people to flee from homes located near rocket launch areas in Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia in the northern Strip.
Meanwhile, the army is enforcing a closure around Nablus following the suicide bombing Thursday night at the entrance to Kedumim in which four Israelis were killed. A preliminary investigation shows that the bomber, who was sent by a combined Fatah and and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine network, was disguised as a yeshiva student and was given a lift by two of the victims.
Meanwhile, Deputy State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli, announced Friday that the U.S. was suspending contacts with the PA's Hamas government. However, contacts could be maintained with Abbas and officials directly responsible to him, including the PA's Washington representatives, Ereli said.
Israelis blocked investigation into cameraman's shooting
Thursday, 6th April 2006, 12:12 - Category: Healthy Living [my note: eh?] - LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - British detectives' attempts to investigate the shooting of award winning documentary maker James Miller, shot dead by an Israelie soldier while filming in Gaza, were blocked by the Israeli authorities, it was revealed today.
Attempts to visit the country by Met Police detectives were thwarted "several times" to interview the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers implicated in the killing and other witnesses.
Detective Inspector Rob Anderson, from the Met's Specialist Crime Directorate, said: "This matter has obviously been challenging to investigate. "The usual avenues of retrieving evidence have been blocked and an early investigation in which to secure vital evidence was never initiated. "This whole matter has had a devastating effect on the deceased's family who have only ever wanted to find out the truth surrounding his death."
Mr Miller, 34, was fatally shot in the neck as he filmed Palestinian children in Rafah, in May 2003.
DI Anderson said there was no evidence that suggested he posed a threat to Israeli soldiers and there was "strong evidence" to suggest the fatal shot came from the Israeli soldiers in an APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier). He added evidence suggested First Lieutenant Hib al Haib, a member of the Bedouin Desert Reconaissance Unit, was the only person firing that night who had agreed "that the fatal shot might have come from his weapon."
The Israeli authorities did not collect the weapons for forensic analysis until 11 weeks after the shooting and the area was bulldozed within days destroying any evidence on the ground. An investigation by the IDF, concluded in April 2005, said they were unable to identify the shooter.
DI Anderson said: "Not withstanding the ballistic reports and weapons seized three months after the shooting that potentially served to exonerate any IDF soldier, no other rational explanation or source of fire has been identified that would prevent the conclusion being drawn that the fatal shot came anywhere other than from the IDF position."
At least four other shots were fired after the fatal bullet at intervals between five and 12 seconds.
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Emck, a military expert who has served in the British Army for 22 years, said those shooting had intended to kill other members of the documentary crew.
Barrister for the Miller family, Michael Mansfield, QC, said the shot immediately after the fatal bullet hit a veranda where two members of the crew were crouching. He said: "Whoever is firing a shot at the veranda plainly ran a serious risk and may have intended to kill either of the two (the Associated Press camera-man and producer Daniel Edge) on the veranda."
Lieutenant Colonel Emck replied: "I think it's possible to make that judgement, yes."
Mr Mansfield continued: "So this distribution of shots can't fairly be described as random."
Lieutenant Colonel Emck replied: "No. It appears to be very deliberate and targeted. And again given the conditions that pertain, and the distance and the light, the man doing the firing appears to know exactly what he is doing."
Mr Miller died from a "classic sniper shot" to the base of his neck. Home Office pathologist, Alen Anscombe, flew out to Israel to conduct an autopsy on behalf on the Home Office and the family. He concluded Mr Miller died from a single gun shot wound which entered the bottom right side of his neck above the collarbone and came out of the back of his shoulder. It hit two main blood vessels, causing "catastrophic bleeding" and also damage to his lung and ribs.
The IDF had originally put out statements saying Mr Miller was hit in the back indicating an attack by a Palestinian gunman.
Dr Anscombe said: "There is no shadow of doubt in my mind the entry was at the front and the exit was at the back."
The hearing at St Pancras Coroners Court continues.
Israeli air strike hits Gaza security compound
By Nidal al-Mughrabi - GAZA, April 4 (Reuters) - Israeli missiles hit a Palestinian security compound in Gaza on Tuesday, the first such air strike in two years,
[my note: er... see story dated 02/04/2006 above]
and Israeli shells killed a Palestinian in the north of the strip after rocket attacks on the Jewish state.
Hamas, sworn to destroying the Jewish state, said Israel was trying through the strikes, which wounded a policeman, to send a message in response to the Islamic militant group's victory in January elections.
Speaking to reporters, Hamas leader and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called the air raids "a serious escalation". Israel said it was responding to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Israel launched the strikes shortly after interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his centrist Kadima Party expected centre-left Labour to be its senior partner in a coalition government being formed after elections last week. Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who holds the power to appoint a prime minister from among the leaders of elected parties, is likely to decide on a candidate by Thursday, his spokeswoman said. Israel's YNET News Web site quoted him as saying there was "no other candidate" than Olmert, who most factions endorsed during talks with Katsav earlier this week. If appointed prime minister, Olmert would have 42 days to form a government.
Kadima won the most parliamentary seats, but fewer than expected, on its plans to lay down Israel's final borders with or without Palestinian agreement. It secured 29 seats in the 120-member parliament. Labour came second with 19. Olmert was elected on a platform of withdrawing from more West Bank settlements while keeping large ones and setting Israel's borders, moves Palestinians condemn as land grabs.
Taking a page from Kadima leader and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who lies comatose after a stroke in January, Olmert had vowed an "iron" response to Palestinian militant attacks in the lead up to Israel's March 28 elections. Israeli media said one of about a dozen projectiles fired from Gaza militants landed in an industrial area on the outskirts of the Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon, narrowly missing a storage area for flammable materials.
The Israeli military said it had carried out two separate air attacks, one on an open field in northern Gaza from where militants fire rockets, and the other on an "open, unpopulated space" in Gaza City. In the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiyeh, separate Israeli fire killed one person and wounded about seven others, including several in a house, Palestinian security officials said. One of those wounded in the house was a four-month-old girl. An Israeli army spokeswoman said artillery fire targeted rocket launching sites and did not intend to hit homes.
Earlier, Palestinian witnesses said two missiles fired from the air struck a training base used by Palestinian security forces in Gaza City. The office of President Mahmoud Abbas is nearby, although he was not there at the time. "There is no justification for these operations. We do not understand them," Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "We have appealed to the United Nations, Russia, the EU (European Union) and our Arab brothers, telling them that these actions will severely complicate civil life."
Militants regularly fire rockets from Gaza, which Israel withdrew from last year after 38 years of occupation. But the makeshift missiles rarely cause casualties nor are they launched from Gaza City because they do not have sufficient range. (Additional reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem) - alertnet.org
Film maker murdered by Israeli soldier
Thursday, 6th April 2006, 14:31 Category: Healthy Living LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - A British award-winning documentary maker shot dead in Gaza by Israeli army officer was murdered an inquest concluded today. James Miller, 34, was hit by a single sniper bullet in the neck after filming Palestinian children throwing stones at Israeli tanks in Rafah. The father-of-two had approached soldiers from the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) holding a torch to a white flag but was gunned down with a "slow, deliberate, calculated and aimed" shot fired by Lieutenant Hib al Haib of the Bedouin Desert Reconnaisance Unit.
His family always maintained he was deliberately killed and the Israeli authorities had attempted to cover up his death and said British diplomats had also tried to block their investigation.
Vital evidence was destroyed or tampered with and almost three years later First Lieutenant Haib commander of the unit has not been prosecuted or disciplined.
Today a jury of five men and five women at St Pancras Coroner's Court took exactly an hour to return a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing. The jury foreman said: "Based on the evidence laid before us we the jury are unanimously agreed that this was an unlawful shooting with the intention to kill Mr Miller. therefore we can come to no other conclusion that Mr Miller was murdered. "It is a fact that from day one the Israeli authorities have not been forthcoming in the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Miller's death."
Earlier the inquest was told Mr Miller died on the last day of filming "Death in Gaza" a documentary about the impact of violence upon children in the conflict zone which won three Emmys and a Bafta. He and two colleagues approached an armoured personnel carrier (APC) in jackets and helmets with the letters "TV" in florescent tape and shouted they were journalists and were leaving. They were less than 100m away when a shot was fired, followed by a second fatal shot - described as a "classic sniper shot" - 13 seconds later. At least four other shots were discharged hitting the Palestinian house, from which the TV crew had emerged.
Military expert Lt Col Harry Emck (corr), who served with the British Army for 22 years, said: "these shots had been designed to kill journalists still in the house."
The bullet hit Mr Miller at the base of his neck between his bullet-proof jacket and helmet, described as a "classic sniper shot" which had an 80-90 per cent fatality rate.
Chris Cobb-Smith conducted a private investigation days after the shooting around 11pm on 2 May 2003. The former British soldier and UN weapons inspector told the three-day inquest Mr Miller's death could not have been an accident. "This was calculated and cold-blooded murder, without a shadow of a doubt. These shots were not fired by a soldier who was frightened, not fired by a soldier facing incoming fire - these were slow, deliberate, calculated and aimed shots." He added the soldiers would have had night vision equipment on their APC and it would have been obvious that the cameraman, reporter and interpreter were unarmed and presented no threat.
Reporter Saira Shah said the group begged the soldiers for help as they struggled with a fatally-injured Mr Miller. After several minutes they eventually threw down a stretcher and took Mr Miller, of Braunton, Devon, to a military base, where he died. Footage of the incident was captured by an Associated Press cameraman and formed part of the documentary.
Mr and Mrs Miller met at a mutual friend's party in their early 20s and had been together for 10 years. They were married in 1997 and had two children, Alexander, now five and Lottie, now three. His widow has visited Israel three times since his death and said the authorities initially tried to deny responsibility.
"They put out statements almost immediately saying that there had been a gun battle and that James had walked into a gun battle. We know from military reports that there had been no gun battle. They said he had been shot from behind and it had been a Palestinian - it was quite clear from the autopsy that he had been shot through the neck."
A colleague of the victim, Daniel Edge, said Israeli soldiers had put pressure on him to say they were not to blame. He told the hearing: "They personally tried to get me to say the sentence 'James could have been shot by a Palestinian', which I refused to say."
The crew said they were interviewed by the IDF before they were allowed to ring Mrs Miller or the British Embassy and inform them of Mr Miller's death.
Within days the scene was bulldozed by the IDF and the weapons were not collected for 11 weeks. The barrel of the M16 gun that fired the fatal shot had been changed and video-footage from the APC had mysteriously disappeared.
The family had to fight to get an independent autopsy and were warned by British military attache Tom Fitzallen-Howard, an Israeli investigation would be questionable.
Mrs Miller said: "The thing that is the hardest is that we (the family) were given assurance by the Israeli authorities and our Government that this was being fully and thoroughly investigated. "And yet all the while it has been the family that has had to produce, investigate and provide the evidence in order to bring any form of justice. It would have been much easier for them (the Israeli authorities) if we had found it too difficult and they have given the impression that they were just trying to grind us down in the hope that we couldn't go on."
St Pancras Coroner Dr Andrew Reid praised the family for their hard work throughout the inquest. The Israeli authorities had declined to take part.
The inquest heard First Lieutenant Haib gave six testimonies about the killing, all of which were conflicting. The Israeli Judge Advocate General recommended he be disciplined for acting outside the rules of engagement and his conduct under investigation. This was overturned by his commanding officer Brigadier General Guy Tzur and he remains an active soldier.
The five-man, five woman jury took just ???? hours / minutes to deliver its verdict.
Dr Reid said: "I have indicated an intention to write to the attorney General and others in order to seek to prevent similiar fatalities."
His death came just weeks after British photographer and peace activist Tom Hurndall was shot by an Israeli soldier in Rafah. He died in hospital nine months after falling into a coma and and Ex-Sergeant Taysir Haib, of the same Bedouin Desert Reconnaissance Battalion, was convicted of manslaughter in April 2005 and jailed for eight years.
Israel: New 'axis of terror' sowing seeds of world war
18/04/2006 - Israel warned today that a new "axis of terror" - Iran, Syria and the Hamas-run Palestinian government - was sowing the seeds of the first world war of the 21st century.
The warning came as Israeli and Palestinian envoys traded charges at an open United Nations Security Council meeting in response to the recent upsurge in Israeli attacks in Gaza.
But the Palestinians accused Israel of an escalating military campaign using indiscriminate force to kill civilians and entrench its occupation.
The war of words took place a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber struck a packed fast-food restaurant in Tel Aviv, killing nine people and wounding dozens in the deadliest bombing in more than a year.
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan called the escalating violence "very worrying" and urged both sides to avoid putting civilians at risk. He also announced that the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers - the United Nations, the US, the European Union and Russia - would meet in New York on May 9 to discuss how to move the stalled roadmap to peace forward.
Israel's UN ambassador Dan Gillerman told the security council that yesterday's "horrific act of terrorism as well as the ones that preceded it were the direct result of the new axis of terror" comprising Iran and Syria and the "terrorist organisations they have been harbouring, nurturing, financing and supporting, namely Hamas and Hezbollah".
Recent statements by Hamas leaders refusing to recognise Israel, and by Iran's president who said on Saturday that Israel was a "rotten, dried tree" "on the road to being eliminated", represented "the stated goal of this axis of terror" - which was again executed in yesterday's deadly suicide bombing, he said.
"Each day extreme fundamentalist leaders are inciting more acts of terrorism," Gillerman warned. "A dark cloud is looming above our region, and it is metastasising as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria, and the newly-elected government of the Palestinian Authority."
"These recent statements … are clear declarations of war, and I urge each and every one of you to listen carefully and take them at face value," he said.
The Palestinian UN observer, Riyad Mansour, condemned yesterday's suicide bombing and the loss of innocent civilians on both sides but attacked Israel for trying to portray its latest military escalation - which killed 21 Palestinians between April 7 and 9 - as a response to violence from the Palestinian territories.
"Israel, the occupying power has been relentless in its grave breaches of international law, including the wilful killing and injury of civilians and the practice of extrajudicial executions," he said.
"What the Israeli government is doing and what it has been doing throughout its nearly 39-year-old military occupation is clearly intended to serve its clear political objectives of inflicting maximum pain, suffering and loss on the Palestinian people while it entrenches its occupation."
Mansour urged the security council and the international community to condemn the Israeli attacks and take measures to halt the latest escalation.
Gillerman urged the international community and the security council "to take swift actions to try and prevent the next murder which is already on its way".
Since January, he said, 11 major suicide terrorist attacks had been prevented and 90 potential suicide bombers arrested.
Gillerman said while Israel regretted any loss of life, it would not sit idly by and allow "human bombs" or rockets to penetrate the country and kill Israelis - and asked whether every country would not do the same to eliminate a similar danger.
"The danger I must add, not just to Israel but also to the whole free world, and to civilisation as we know it, as this axis of evil and terror sows the seeds of the first world war of the 21st century," he said. - IOL
Lawyer: Rice Allegedly Leaked Defense Info
By Matthew Barakat The Associated Press Friday 21 April 2006
Alexandria, Virginia - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said Friday.
Prosecutors disputed the claim.
The allegations against Rice came as a federal judge granted a defense request to issue subpoenas sought by the defense for Rice and three other government officials in the trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. The two are former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who are charged with receiving and disclosing national defense information.
Defense lawyers are asking a judge to dismiss the charges because, among other things, they believe it seeks to criminalize the type of backchannel exchanges between government officials, lobbyists and the press that are part and parcel of how Washington works.
During Friday's hearing, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said he is considering dismissing the government's entire case because the law used to prosecute Rosen and Weissman may be unconstitutionally vague and broad and infringe on freedom of speech.
Rosen's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the testimony of Rice and others is needed to show that some of the top officials in U.S. government approved of disclosing sensitive information to the defendants and that the leaks may have been authorized.
Prosecutors opposed the effort to depose Rice and the other officials. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory also disputed Lowell's claim, saying, "She never gave national defense information to Mr. Rosen."
The issuance of subpoenas does not automatically require Rice or anybody else to testify or give a deposition. A recipient can seek to quash the subpoena.
Calls to the State Department seeking comment Friday evening were not immediately returned.
The judge also granted subpoenas for David Satterfield, deputy chief of the U.S. mission to Iraq; William Burns, U.S. ambassador to Russia and retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni.
"Each of these individuals have real-life dealings with the defendants in this case. They'll explain what they told Dr. Rosen in detail," Lowell said. "On day one, Secretary of State Rice tells him certain info and on day two one of the conspirators tells him the same thing or something less volatile."
The indictment against Rosen and Weissman alleges that three government officials leaked sensitive and sometimes classified national defense information to the two, who subsequently revealed what they learned to the press and to an Israeli government official.
One of the three government officials is former Pentagon official Lawrence A. Franklin, who pleaded guilty to providing classified defense information to Rosen and Weissman and was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.
Franklin has said he was concerned that the United States was insufficiently concerned about the threat posed by Iran and hoped that leaking information might eventually provoke the National Security Council to take a different course of action.
The indictment against Rosen, of Silver Spring, Md., and Weissman, of Bethesda, Md., alleges that they conspired to obtain classified government reports on issues relevant to U.S. policy, including the al-Qaida terror network; the bombing of the Khobar Towers dormitory in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel; and U.S. policy in Iran.
Lowell said it is impossible for Rosen and Weissman to determine what is sensitive national defense information when they are receiving the information from government officials who presumably understand national security law and therefore would not improperly disclose national defense information.
The World War I-era law has never been used to prosecute lobbyists before.
Is outed CIA asset Val Plame responsible for helping WMD proliferation?
In a televised confession Khan insisted he acted without authorization in selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, saying the proliferation took place between 1989 and 2000. Khan has been pardoned by President General Pervez Musharraf, and Pakistan has refused to hand him over to the US or the UN nuclear watchdog agency for questioning.
How CIA "protected" A.Q. Khan
Hasan Suroor - hindu.com - Aug 10, 2005
He was caught stealing designs from a Dutch uranium plant. Former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers in a radio programme says the CIA saved Khan from going to prison.
LONDON: In a disclosure that is likely to embarrass American authorities, the former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers has revealed how the CIA protected the controversial Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and saved him from going to prison after he was caught stealing secret designs from a Dutch uranium plant in 1975.
Mr. Lubbers, who was Minister of Economic Affairs at the time, told a Dutch radio station on Tuesday that because of pressure from the CIA no action was taken against Dr. Khan and he was quietly allowed to return to Pakistan.
"Copying secret designs"
In a 35-minute programme on Radio Argos, which describes itself as the Dutch equivalent of the BBC, Mr. Lubbers said that Dr. Khan was then working for a company called FDO and his job allowed him access to the British-German-Dutch uranium enrichment facility, Urenco, in Almelo in the Netherlands. On one of his visits, he was allegedly found "copying" and taking away secret designs from Urenco.
According to Mr. Lubbers, Dr. Khan was banned from entering Urenco and the matter was reported to the police but, surprisingly, the case was dropped and he was allowed to leave the country. He said he learnt later that the CIA told the Dutch authorities not to arrest him as they wanted to follow him in order to find out more about his activities relating to Pakistan's secret nuclear programme.
Mr. Lubbers also said that the information was kept away from the country's Parliament, and the "scandal" became public only in 1979 thanks to a Dutch TV programme. Legal proceedings were launched against Dr. Khan and he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in absentia.
In 1985, Dr. Khan appealed against the judgement and the court ordered a retrial on grounds that proper procedures were not followed in the original trial. But, according to Mr. Lubbers, Dr. Khan was not put on trial a second time - again because of pressure from the CIA.
Mr. Lubbers, who was Prime Minister then, was asked in the programme why his Government succumbed to CIA pressure. He admitted that, looking back, he believed it was a mistake but said at that time the political climate in Europe was such because of the Cold War "you had to listen to the Americans."
Gerard Legebeke, editor-in-chief of the programme in which Mr Lubbers was interviewed, told The Hindu that this was the first time such a senior Dutch political leader [Mr. Lubbers was Prime Minister for 12 years] had talked publicly about the CIA's role in protecting Dr. Khan at a time when American and European secret services were on his trail for smuggling nuclear material to build an atomic bomb for Pakistan.
He said that Dr. Khan, who had a Dutch wife, continued to "slip in and out of Holland illegally" and the secret services including the CIA knew about it.
now consider: Bush has a NAZI past -
Documents in The National Archives and Library of Congress reveal that Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush, served as a business partner of and U.S. banking operative for the financial architect of the Nazi war machine from 1926 until 1942, when Congress took aggressive action against Bush and his "enemy national" partners.
The documents also show that Bush and his colleagues, according to reports from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and FBI, tried to conceal their financial alliance with German industrialist Fritz Thyssen, a steel and coal baron who, beginning in the mid-1920s, personally funded Adolf Hitler's rise to power by the subversion of democratic principle and German law.
Furthermore, the declassified records demonstrate that Bush and his associates, who included E. Roland Harriman, younger brother of American icon W. Averell Harriman, and George Herbert Walker, President Bush's maternal great-grandfather, continued their dealings with the German industrial baron for nearly eight months after the U.S. entered the war.
John Buchanan [backed up]
& remember GWH Bush 1st was CIA head [& still has connections]
what do Pakistan get in return for its War on Terror complicity?
Dr Khan probe a 'closed chapter': FO hails APHC-Singh meeting
By Qudssia Akhlaque - ISLAMABAD, May 2 -2006: www.dawn.com
The Foreign Office on Tuesday declared that investigations into the Dr A.Q. Khan affair were over and as far as Pakistan was concerned the chapter was closed. "As far as we are concerned this chapter is closed," Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam stated in response to a question at a weekly news briefing.
The spokesperson asserted that the government had conducted thorough investigations into the affair and shared the information and conclusions with the International Atomic Energy Agency besides other countries, including the US. "Our cooperation has been appreciated both by the IAEA and the United States," she maintained.
In reply to a query, Ms Aslam said the Americans had not asked any questions about scientist Dr Mohammad Farooq, who was released last week. When asked if his release marked the end of Pakistan's investigations into the affair, she said: "I would presume that with Dr Farooq's release there is a closure to that."
The spokesperson said there was no question of giving the US direct access to any Pakistani scientist, saying: "We have repeatedly emphasised that, whatever information is required, questions can be forwarded to the government of Pakistan and we would get the answers. We would do the investigations and transmit this information."
Responding to a question, Ms Aslam said the government had no intention of designating the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its affiliate organisation as terrorist entities as done by the US. However, Pakistan would be legally bound to take action if they were placed on United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee's consolidated list, she said.
She said the US had approached the UNSC for designation of the organisations as terrorist outfits and for putting them on the committee's list.
"We do not put any of our entities on the terrorist list if the action is taken under the US domestic law," she said in reply to a question.
On All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders' planned meeting with the Indian prime minister, the spokesperson said: "This is part of the trilateral engagement in which Kashmiri leaders are meeting amongst themselves and the leaders of Pakistan and India, and we welcome it."
She said Pakistan had emphasised all along that it was important to involve the Kashmiri leaders in the peace process or at least have their association with the process.
She said the killing of 34 Hindus in Doda was unfortuunate, adding: "It is a terrorist act and we condemn it." She was confident that the incident would not have any impact on the peace process.
When asked about some lobbies in the Indian establishment wanting to derail the peace process, Ms Aslam replied: "I understand that the Indian government and Indian occupied Kashmir's administration would be carrying out investigations… I'm not in the business of conspiracy theories."
"As far as we know, China did not intervene during the Kargil conflict," she said when asked about an Indian army genera's claim in this regard.
Ms Aslam, who participated in the inaugural session of Pakistan-US strategic dialogue in Washington last week, said various aspects of the bilateral relationship were reviewed during the meeting and both sides agreed to deepen and broaden it.
She said the foreign secretary and his US counterpart had decided that the working groups on different subjects would meet over the next two months. This, she said, would follow another round of talks between the foreign secretary and US Under-Secretary Nicholas Burns. "We expect progress once the working groups meet," she said.
In reply to a question, she said the issue of mining and fencing parts of the Afghanistan border was discussed during the meeting.
She underlined that cross-border movement was taking place from both ends, saying people from Afghanistan were also coming into Pakistan and creating trouble here.
"While we are doing all we can, we expect the other side to also initiate action and if they want they can mine the border to deter this movement," she stated.
She said the Pakistan-Afghanistan-US joint military exercises that started on Tuesday were aimed at promoting coordination among the three countries.
Responding to a question regarding Pakistan's readiness to open its airspace and airfields to Dutch aircraft active in Afghanistan, she emphasised that such cooperation would not be part of any military operations in the neighbouring country.
Pointing to the fact that the Netherlands was deploying additional troops in Afghanistan under the Nato-Isaf command, the spokesperson said Pakistan had been providing logistic support to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the International Security Assistance Force in their security operations in Afghanistan.
She underlined that Pakistani facilities were not meant for military action in Afghanistan but as a transit point, adding that Isaf had been using part of the base in Karachi for its forward mounting operations to lift their supplies.
"If we have similar cooperation with the Netherlands it is in that context," she said, adding that Dutch troops in Afghanistan were in any case not involved in military operations but were there to provide security cover.
The spokesperson told a questioner that the government had no confirmation of reports that India would be stationing 12 MiG aircraft at a base in Tajikistan. However, she said Pakistan was aware of the fact that India was helping Tajikistan develop an airfield.
Responding to question regarding disappointment expressed by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on the role of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Ms Aslam said that did not mean a change in the country's policy. "We want Saarc to be an effective and vibrant organisation and if progress in the context of Saarc is slow, naturally there is disappointment." She maintained that Pakistan was working with other countries to make Saarc successful.
She said Pakistan was heartened by the interest shown by a number of countries in the region and outside it to join the organisation as observers. "That shows that Saarc as an organisation is gaining credibility."
In reply to a question, she said: "The Saarc Charter says that political disputes cannot be discussed but, realistically, if Saarc were to do that perhaps it would help the member states to discuss a number of issues at this forum, which is important to all the countries." She recalled that the Forum of Eminent Persons formed to look into ways of making Saarc more effective had recommended that the association should be able to discuss political disputes and help member countries resolve them.
The spokesperson said the defence agreement signed with the United Arab Emirates last week would increase, promote and deepen cooperation in the field between the two countries. She said the agreement would cover joint military training and exercises, research, exchange of information, security in defence policy coordination and defence procurement. It would pave way for more systematic exchanges between the two military establishments, she said.
Replying to a question, Ms Aslam said Pakistan and Iran were ready to develop a gas pipeline bilaterally as well. She said Pakistan was looking at both bilateral and trilateral tracks. If for some reason India was unable to join, the pipeline could be built from Iran to Pakistan, she said, adding: "However, we would be very happy if India is still part of this project."
"We have no indication that India is not part of this gas pipeline anymore," she said.
Is the US setting Isreal up for a confrontation with or annihalation by Iran?
Retired Pakistani general says he told Iran to
hit Israel in event of any attack
AP , ISLAMABAD Sunday, May 14, 2006,Page 4 - taipeitimes.com
Pakistan's former army chief says Iranian officials came to him for advice on heading off an attack on their nuclear facilities, and he in effect advised them to take a hostage -- Israel.
Retired General Mirza Aslam Beg said he suggested their government "make it clear that if anything happens to Iran, if anyone attacks it -- it doesn't matter who it is or how it is attacked -- that Iran's answer will be to hit Israel; the only target will be Israel."
Since Beg spoke of the encounter, echoes of his thinking have been heard in Iran, though whether they result directly from his advice isn't known.
Mohammed Ebrahim Dehghani, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, was quoted last week as saying that if "America does make any mischief, the first place we target will be Israel."
The threat was disavowed the following day by Brigadier General Alireza Afshar, deputy to the chief of Iran's military staff, who said that it was Dehghani's "personal view and has no validity as far as the Iranian military officials are concerned."
"Make it clear that if anything happens to Iran, if anyone attacks it ... that Iran's answer will be to hit Israel; the only target will be Israel." Mirza Aslam Beg, retired Pakistani general
And on Tuesday, Israel's vice premier, Shimon Peres, warned that "Those who threaten to destroy are in danger of being destroyed."
In the interview that took place several weeks before these threats were exchanged, Beg said a delegation from the Iranian Embassy in Pakistan had come to his office in January, seeking advice as Western pressure mounted on Iran to abandon its nuclear effort. Beg said he offered lessons learned from his experience dealing with India's nuclear threat.
He said he told the Iranians, whom he did not identify, that Pakistan had suspected India of collaborating with Israel in planning an attack on its nuclear facilities. By then, Pakistan had the bomb too.
But both countries had adopted a strategy of ambiguity, he said, and Pakistan sent an emissary to India to warn that no matter who attacked it, Pakistan would retaliate against India.
"We told India frankly that this is the threat we perceive and this is the action we are taking and the action we will take. It was a real deterrent," he recalled telling the Iranians.
He said he also advised them to "attempt to degrade the defense systems of Israel," harass it through the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, and put second-strike nuclear weapons on submarines.
Although analysts are divided on how soon Iran might have nuclear weapons, Beg said he is sure Iran has had enough time to develop them.
But he insists the Pakistani government didn't help, even though he says former prime minister Benazir Bhutto once told him the Iranians offered more than US$4 billion for the technology.
Ephraim Asculai, a former senior official with the Israel Atomic Agency Commission, said he didn't think Beg's remarks reflected official Pakistani policy. Asculai said he believed Iran learned more from Iraq than from Pakistan, recalling that as soon as the 1991 Gulf War broke out, Saddam Hussein fired missiles at Israel, even though it wasn't in the US-led coalition fighting Iraq.
Beg became army chief of staff in 1988, a year after Pakistan confirmed CIA estimates that it had nuclear weapons capability. He served until 1991 and now runs his own think tank. He speaks freely and in detail about the nuclear issue, but many critical blank spots remain and the subject remains one of great sensitivity, clouded by revelations in 2004 that A.Q. Khan, who pioneered Pakistan's nuclear bomb, sold nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. The bigger picture has also changed radically. Pakistan is now a US ally in the war on terrorism, and Asculai said "Pakistani government officials have often suggested that they would be willing to have ties with Israel under certain conditions."
In the interview, Beg detailed nearly 20 years of Iranian approaches to obtain conventional arms and then technology for nuclear weapons. He described an Iranian visit in 1990, when he was army chief of staff. "They didn't want the technology. They asked: `Can we have a bomb?' My answer was: By all means you can have it but you must make it yourself. Nobody gave it to us," Beg said.
The US imposed sanctions on Pakistan in 1990, suspecting it was developing a nuclear bomb. In 1998, confirmation came with Pakistan's first nuclear weapons tests.
Although Beg insisted his government never gave Iran nuclear weapons, Pakistan now acknowledges that Khan sold Iran centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium, though without his government's knowledge.
In a televised confession Khan insisted he acted without authorization in selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, saying the proliferation took place between 1989 and 2000. Khan has been pardoned by President General Pervez Musharraf, and Pakistan has refused to hand him over to the US or the UN nuclear watchdog agency for questioning. According to Beg, Iran first sent emissaries to Pakistan in the latter years of its 1980-88 war with Iraq with a shopping list worth billions of dollars, mostly for spare parts for its air force.
It offered in return to underwrite the development plan of General Zia-ul Haq, then Pakistan's ruler.
"General Zia did not agree," he said.
Much of what Beg says cannot be independently confirmed, and the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Beg's version of events.
No Place for Non-Jews in Fortress Israel
Marriage Ban Closes the Gates to Palestinians
By JONATHAN COOK
In approving an effective ban on marriages between Israelis and Palestinians this week, Israel's Supreme Court has shut tighter the gates of the Jewish fortress the state of Israel is rapidly becoming. The judges' decision, in the words of the country's normally restrained Haaretz daily, was "shameful".
By a wafer-thin majority, the highest court in the land ruled that an amendment passed in 2003 to the Nationality Law barring Palestinians from living with an Israeli spouse inside Israel -- what in legal parlance is termed "family unification" -- did not violate rights enshrined in the country's Basic Laws.
And even if it did, the court added, the harm caused to the separated families was outweighed by the benefits of improved "security". Israel, concluded the judges, was justified in closing the doors to residency for all Palestinians in order to block the entry of those few who might use marriage as a way to launch terror attacks.
Applications for family unification in Israel invariably come from Palestinians in the occupied territories who marry other Palestinians, often friends or relatives, with Israeli citizenship. One in five of Israel's population is Palestinian by descent, a group, commonly referred to as Israeli Arabs, who managed to remain inside the Jewish state during the war of 1948 that established Israel.
As there is no principle of equality in Israeli law, human rights groups who challenged the government's 2003 amendment were forced to argue instead that it violated the dignity of the families. Mixed Israeli and Palestinian couples are not only unable to live together inside Israel but they are also denied a married life in the occupied territories, from which Israeli citizens are banned under military regulations.
Most of the judges, however, seemed incapable of grasping this simple point. In an earlier hearing, Justice Michael Cheshin suggested that mixed couples wanting to build a family "should live in Jenin", a Palestinian city in the West Bank besieged by Israeli military armour.
Cheshin again demonstrated an other-worldly logic this week when he justified the majority view of his colleagues: "Beyond this [measure] stands the state's right not to allow residents of an enemy country to enter its territory during time of war."
The problem is that the Palestinians are not another "country", enemy or otherwise; they are a people who have been living under Israeli military occupation for nearly four decades. As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for their welfare, though it has happily passed on that burden to international players with deeper pockets.
And the suggestion that the Palestinians, who have no army, are waging a war against Israel, one of the world's strongest military powers, expands the idea of war into the realms of doublespeak. Palestinians are resisting Israel's occupation -- some violently, others non-violently -- as they have a right to do under international law.
Few observers in Israel, however, believe that their government passed the law in 2003 on security grounds. Of the 6,000 Palestinians given residency rights in Israel during the Oslo period, a tiny number -- only 25 -- have been questioned on security-related matters, according to figures the government reluctantly published during the case. How many of this number were actually involved in attacks has still not been clarified.
The real reason for the law is to be found elsewhere. It springs from the same impulse that prompted Israel to "disengage" from the 1.3 million Palestinians of Gaza last year and is now spurring the government on to "consolidate" its West Bank settlement blocs behind a wall designed to annex Palestinian land but not the Palestinians themselves.
The ban on marriages and the drawing of final borders share a single guiding vision: one of maintaining Israel as a Jewish state with a "massive Jewish majority", as former prime minister Ariel Sharon phrased it shortly before the Gaza withdrawal.
Until it was amended, the family unification provision in the Nationality Law offered Palestinians in the occupied territories the sole route to Israeli citizenship. But if Israel is building its walls to establish an expanded Jewish state, an ethnic fortress, it is hardly going to leave the back door ajar to let Palestinians achieve what Israelis regard as a right of return, through marriage, to Israel.
The interior ministry has done much to fuel a demographic and racist hysteria by inflating the figures to suggest that more than 100,000 Palestinians from the occupied territories have gained Israeli citizenship through marriage in the past decade. In fact the real number is a few thousand.
If the judges were too embarrassed to admit that demographic concerns prompted the amendment to the Nationality Law, few others in Israel have been as reluctant. A Jerusalem Post editorial this week admitted the government's security arguments for the law were "weak", observing instead: "Israel is openly threatened with annihilation -- not just physically, by a potential Iranian nuclear capability, but demographically, by Palestinian claims of a 'right of return'."
Yoel Hasson of the ruling Kadima party hailed the court's decision as "a victory for those who believe in Israel as a Jewish state", while the immigration absorption minister, Zeev Boim, added: "We have to maintain the state's democratic nature, but also its Jewish nature. The extent of entry of [Palestinian spouses] into Israel's territories is intolerable."
The government's ban on family unification between Palestinians and Israelis is currently a temporary measure (of three years standing) but that is likely to change now that the court has given the law its blessing. This week justice minister Haim Ramon vowed to establish a new Basic Law that would permanently block entry to Palestinians, as well possibly as other non-Jews.
This is in line with the recommendations of the government-appointed Rubinstein Committee, under the chairmanship of Israel's foremost constitutional law expert Amnon Rubinstein, which has been preparing an immigration policy for non-Jews.
In its report, issued in February, the committee proposed draconian limitations on non-Jews' rights to Israeli citizenship through marriage. (All Jews, meanwhile, will continue to qualify for citizenship based on another piece of legislation, the overtly discriminatory Law of Return.)
According to Rubinstein's recommendations, Palestinians and inhabitants of "hostile" (read Arab) states who marry Israelis (read Israel's Palestinian citizens) will be banned from rights to either citizenship or residency in Israel.
Other non-Jewish spouses (read mainly Europeans and Americans) will face age and income requirements and be expected to affirm a loyalty oath -- not to Israel, but to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. In keeping with current policy, non-Jews are unlikely to receive citizenship but may be eligible for residency rights.
As one seasoned Israeli observer, Shahar Ilan, commented in Haaretz: "It is doubtful that there are many issues that elicit such broad consensus in the [Israeli] political system as that of closing the gates to family unification [of non-Jews]."
Such changes will make Israel unlike any state we have seen in modern times. In 1980, at the height of apartheid in South Africa, the courts there refused to approve legislation much like Israel's ban on family unification, arguing that it contravened the right to a family life.
In Israel, on the other hand, faced with a new wave of racist legislation, no one -- not even the country's "liberal" Supreme Court is prepared to safeguard the most basic rights of the land's native people.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the author of the forthcoming "Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State" published by Pluto Press, and available in the United States from the University of Michigan Press. His website is www.jkcook.net
Isreal - we will not yield
'We can't wait forever', Olmert tells US Congress
25/05/2006 - Ireland Online
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert told a joint meeting of US Congress that Israel would be a "willing partner in peace" with the Palestinians, but would draw its own borders in the West Bank should it conclude it had no negotiating partner.
"We cannot wait for the Palestinians forever," Olmert told members of the House of Representatives and Senate gathered in the House chamber in Washington yesterday.
"Our deepest wish is to build a better future for our region, hand in hand with a Palestinian partner, but if not, we will move forward, but not alone," he said, alluding to promised US support.
Olmert drew a sustained standing ovation when he declared, "We will not yield to terror," a reference to suicide attacks on Israelis such as those that killed a 16-year-old American high school student observing the Passover holiday in Israel this year. Daniel Wultz's parents sat in the House chamber, sobbing, as Olmert mentioned their son.
Olmert also drew long applause for tough words condemning whet he said was Iran's drive to build nuclear weapons and the escalating anti-Semitic rhetoric from its leader.
"If we don't take Iran's bellicose rhetoric seriously now, we will be forced to take its nuclear aggression seriously later," Olmert said.
Olmert said the West Bank withdrawal was vital to Israel's security and the cause of peace and could not go forward without US support.
In a policy shift on Tuesday, the White House gave unexpected backing to Israel's plan to unilaterally set its borders with the Palestinians should their new Hamas leaders refuse to disarm and renounce their call for Israel's destruction.
President George Bush praised what he called Olmert's "bold ideas" for acting on its own in the event that talks founder on the internationally backed "road map" peace plan.
From the US Capitol podium yesterday, Olmert called on the moderate Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to seek a negotiated solution - the preferred route for Olmert and Bush.
"With a genuine Palestinian partner for peace, I believe we can reach an agreement on all the issues that divide us," the Israeli leader said.
If the Palestinians "ignore our outstretched hand for peace," Olmert said, "Israel will seek other alternatives to promote our future and the prospects of hope in the Middle East."
Hamas' victory in January Palestinian parliamentary elections hurt peace prospects because of the group's violently anti-Israel ideology. The Bush administration considers Hamas to be a terrorist organisation, and has acknowledged the obstacles Israel is liable to face in trying to make peace with Abbas, who was elected separately last year.
After the two men met on Tuesday, Bush said Olmert's ideas "could lead to a two-state solution if a pathway to progress on the road map is not opened in the period ahead".
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, an Abbas ally, welcomed Bush's call for negotiations. But he rejected the notion of an imposed solution.
"President Bush said the first option is negotiation," Erekat said. "There is no other option."
Olmert, making his first visit to the US since winning election in March, told Congress that Israel had learned it must give up some of its dreams in the interest of a secure future for a Jewish democratic state.
"We hope and pray that our Palestinian neighbours will also awaken," he said.
In Jerusalem, a senior Cabinet member close to Olmert said if Hamas did not recognise Israel and renounce violence within six months Israel would move ahead with plans to unilaterally draw its final borders by 2010.
"If these things don't happen, we won't wait for years, but rather we will wait until the end of this year," Haim Ramon told Israel Radio. "This will be a year of diplomacy."
"First negotiations, and after the negotiations, if it doesn't succeed and it becomes clear that there is no (Palestinian) partner, we will move ahead with the consolidation plan," Ramon said.
Olmert has given Abbas a tall order for proving Palestinian commitment to negotiating a final deal.
Abbas would have to disarm Palestinian militant groups; the Palestinian government would have to recognise Israel; and previous agreements would have to be fully put in place.
Before leaving, Olmert met with about 40 American Jewish leaders and told them he was very much impressed with Bush's "comprehensive grasp of the entire situation in the Middle East," said June Walker, national president of Hadassah, the women's Zionist organisation.
On Iran, she said, Olmert said he was "confident that America would do what was necessary to deal with Iran."
On Hamas, Olmert said he was not confident Hamas would change, but he wanted to give Abbas every opportunity to develop a pathway to coexistence of two separate nations.