Barak presents gestures to PA ahead of Muslim holiday
After government approves Palestinian prisoner release, Defense Minister Barak informs PA Prime Minister Fayyad of series of gestures ahead of Eid al-Adha holiday, presents figures showing economic improvement in West Bank
|Israel presents gestures ahead of Muslim holiday: After approving the release of about 230 Palestinian prisoners, Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of a series of Israeli gestures ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday. In their meeting Sunday, Barak told Fayyad that Israel will allow first-degree relatives – men above 40 and women of all ages – from Judea and Samaria into the Green Line. In addition, Arab Israelis will be allowed to enter Area A in the West Bank, and men aged 45 and above will be given permits to head to Temple Mount.
Barak added that in addition to gestures pertaining to West Bank roadblocks, the pace of operation at the checkpoints will be boosted in order to allow for faster crossing.
The two figures also discussed the deployment of Palestinian security forces in the West Bank towns of Jenin and Hebron. Barak said that Israel is considering a go-ahead for the deployment of Palestinian police officers at Bethlehem as well during Christmas.
Barak also briefed Fayyad on the state of economic projects in Palestinian Authority areas being undertaken with the international community's support. The defense minister presented figures showing economic improvement in Judea and Samaria in 2008.
The data includes a 3% decline in unemployment, a 35% rise in trade between the West Bank and Israel, an 87% increase in Bethlehem tourism numbers, and a nearly 1,000% rise in the importation of vehicles and mechanical engineering equipment to Judea and Samaria.
Addressing the situation in the Gaza Strip, Barak said: "The Qassam fire does not enable Israel to open the Gaza Strip crossings, and Hamas is responsible for that."
'Iran test-fires sea-to-sea missile'
The Iranian navy has test-fired a sea-to-sea missile during a six-day naval maneuver in the Sea of Oman, the country's state radio reported Sunday.
Iran fires a missile from a submarine during an exercise in the Persian Gulf last month (illustrative).
The report quoted Adm. Ghasem Rostamabadi, the maneuver's spokesman, who said that the mid-range missile was launched from a battleship late Saturday in the waters off the port town of Chabahar near the Iran-Pakistan border.
The report did not elaborate on the range or give other details about the missile, dubbed Nasr-2 or Victory-2.
Iran said last week that it launched the large-scale naval maneuver that was to cover 50,000-square miles (129,500-sq. kilometers) of Iranian territorial waters and involve about 60 warships.
Iran regularly holds war games in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.
Poll: Netanyahu most likely to advance peace
War and Peace Index shows 31% of Kadima voters believe Netanyahu can promote peace while safeguarding Israel's interests. Most Israelis support establishment of Palestinian state
|Which government will succeed in advancing the peace process while safeguarding Israel’s interests in the context of negotiations with the different Arab actors? According to the War and Peace Index published on Ynet, 35% of the public said a Netanyahu-led government was best fit for the job.
A government headed by Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni got the vote of 25% of the public, while only 6% opted for a Barak-headed government as the one that would best succeed in fulfilling this task.
Among the rest, 15% said all the possibilities were “the same” in their eyes and 20% responded that they did not know or had no clear position on the matter.
The researchers that conducted the poll said that despite the economic situation, foreign and defense issues continued to determine which party the Israeli Jewish public will decide to vote for.
A segmentation of the answers to this question revealed that Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu has a clear advantage among voters for Likud (65%), Shas (71%), Yisrael Beiteinu (65%), the National Religious Party (44%), and Torah Judaism (42%). In addition, he has not inconsiderable support (31%) among Kadima voters.
Tzipi Livni mainly has support from voters for Kadima (41%), Labor (40%), Meretz (65%), and the Pensioners (50%).
As for Labor Chairman Ehud Barak, even in his own party his rate of support is no higher than 19%, primarily because of the “defection” of Labor voters to Kadima (as noted, 40%). It should be emphasized, though, that the survey was conducted two days before the Labor Party’s internal elections and the list that was elected could change this picture.
The index further showed a solid majority among the Jewish public of 58% (vs. 36%) who support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and a slightly larger majority (61% vs. 35%) who see the Palestinians’ claim to an independent state of their own as justified.
Moreover, a clear majority, though a bit smaller - 53% compared to 38% - also say that in the framework of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel could allow itself to agree to an independent Palestinian state’s creation.
This structure of positions among the Jewish public is important and interesting in light of the widespread suspicion of the Palestinians’ intentions.
About two-thirds (63%) expressed agreement with the statement that “In reality, most of the Palestinians do not accept the existence of the State of Israel and would destroy it if they could, despite the fact that the PLO leadership is conducting peace negotiations with Israel.” Only 20% disagreed with the claim.
A segmentation of the answers to this question with the question on personal support or opposition to establishing an independent Palestinian state reveals, as expected, that among those who agree that the Palestinians would eradicate Israel if they could, the rate of those favoring a Palestinian state is lower than among those who disagree with that claim.
Most of the Jewish public is prepared to accept the idea of an independent Palestinian state while, at the same time, assuming that the Palestinians’ intentions toward Israel are not to accept its existence but rather to destroy it.
The survey also showed that the public is split almost exactly down the middle - 46% on each side -regarding the rightness of the statement that any government that is formed after the elections will eventually reach a final settlement with the Palestinians.
On the other hand, a 57% majority was found who disagree with the statement that any government that is formed after the elections will eventually agree to a compromise with the Palestinians on the issue of Jerusalem.
The War and Peace Index is funded by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University. The telephone interviews were conducted by the B. I. Cohen Institute of Tel Aviv University on 1-3 December 2008 and included 598 interviewees who represent the adult population of Israel (including the territories and the kibbutzim). The sampling error for a sample of this size is 4.5%.
Livni calls for reassessment of 'calm'
Foreign Minister and Kadima chair Tzipi Livni attacked Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday, implying that he is not aware of the reality in the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Livni called for more dialogue between herself, Barak, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on whether to continue the faltering truce with Hamas.
According to Livni, "the cease-fire agreement will end shortly in any case, and is not being honored by the Palestinian side. At the moment, we need renewed thought on whether we will act."
"There is no cease-fire in Gaza," she went on, "anyone who calls this 'calm' doesn't know what's happening there. Whoever is responsible for security needs to act."
In response, Barak said, "the situation in Gaza is known. The reality requires us to weigh opinions, responsibility and politics."
Voicing similar sentiments to Livni's, Transportation Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz told Israel Radio Sunday morning that Israel must change its policy regarding Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Vice Premier Haim Ramon
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
Mofaz stressed that it is up to Israel to send a clear message to the group and to other terror organizations, that they are not immune to a blow to their leadership, their infrastructure, or their funding.
The minister noted that he opposes a ground strike in the Strip, but said there are new strategies that can be implemented. He declined to specify such strategies, saying it was advisable not to discuss details.
Mofaz is currently in Washington to meet with US officials, and attended the Saban Forum over the weekend, where he spoke of the Iranian nuclear threat.
His comments came as Kassam and mortar shell fire on the western Negev from Gaza continued, with at least 20 rockets launched over the weekend.
Also responding to the continued rocket fire, Vice Premier Haim Ramon called for an immediate end to the cease-fire, and a strike on Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. "A strategic decision is needed, and regretfully it has not yet been made," he told Army Radio on Sunday morning.
"We can't continue with Hamas control in the Strip," he went on, calling "Hamastan in the Gaza Strip" an "intolerable threat to the State of Israel."
Ramon also criticized Barak, claiming he supports the cease-fire despite "hundreds of Kassams landing in the Gaza belt area."
"Only the defense minister thinks there is a cease-fire," he said. "There's calm in Gaza; there's no calm on the Gaza belt."
Ramon claimed that Barak was avoiding making the decisions needed to combat the rocket threat.
He clarified, however, that he was not suggesting an attack on Gaza, but rather targeting rocket launch squads. "We did it in Lebanon, we targeted the sources of fire, the same needs to be done in the Gaza Strip," Ramon said. "We need to strike Hamas infrastructure and we need to paralyze their power station. The economic blockade is only partial, and we need to do a lot more."
Israeli experts help India prepare commando raids into Pakistan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
December 6, 2008, 4:23 PM (GMT+02:00)
New Delhi has asked Jerusalem to assist in the operational and intelligence planning of Indian commando cross-border strikes against Islamist terrorist havens in Pakistan - including al Qaeda, Indian counter-terror sources report.
The Indian government's decision to embark on these in-and-out incursions in reprisal for the Mumbai outrage of Nov. 26-29 was first revealed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly 375 published Dec. 4 (Indian Retaliatory Raids inside Pakistan Impending).
DEBKAfile adds: Israel is willing to help the Indians carry out punitive forays into Pakistan because it has its own scores to settle for the brutal murder of six Israelis in Mumbai's Chabad Center by the Islamist terrorists and for the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency's hand in the atrocity.
Security sources in New Delhi disclosed Saturday, Dec. 6, that ISI officers actively trained the terrorists on military lines and selected their targets, including two big hotels and the Jewish-Israeli center.
Indian sources told DEBKAfile that Israel was asked for assistance because its special undercover forces were long seasoned in plotting and executing reprisals for terrorist attacks; above all, they were expert in getting away after covert operations without leaving a trail. New Delhi wants its commando operations in Pakistan to be stealthy and focused, and does not propose to admit responsibility.
Four Pakistani locations are targeted:
1. Pakistani Kashmir where scores if not hundreds of extremist Muslim training facilities are situated - many of them ISI-run and funded;
2. Punjab in eastern Pakistan on the border of northern India. DEBKAfile's counter terror sources report that Lahore and Multan have attracted a cluster of Islamist terrorist centers.
3. Pakistan's southern coast - from Karachi north to Gwadar close to the Iranian border. Indian intelligence (RAW) has evidence that this strip was where the terrorists who besieged Mumbai ten days ago were trained for their assault.
Our New Delhi sources disclose that Indian leaders showed the outline of this plan to US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice when she visited last week. She commented guardedly that the United States was strongly opposed to a full-scale war between India and Pakistan but not averse to limited counter-terror operations.
Olmert demonizes settlers as instigators of 'pogrom'
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday made the incredible comparison of a handful of Jews who engaged in violence against Palestinians in Hebron last week to mobs of Russians who massacred thousands of Jews during the 1800s.
"As a Jew, I'm ashamed of the sights of Jews firing at Arabs in Hebron. I have no other definition for what we saw but a pogrom. We are the sons of a nation which knows what a pogrom is, and I'm saying this after much thought. I have no other way to put it," said Olmert.
The incident Olmert was referring to involved two Israelis who were shown on video captured by police opening fire on a group of Palestinian Arabs. Two Palestinians were shot and wounded in the incident.
The two Israelis surrendered themselves to police on Saturday, insisting that they had opened fire in self defense and pointing out that one of them had been injured by the Arab mob before they drew their weapons. A lawyer for the two men told Ynet that one of his defendants had indeed received 36 stitches after being struck by the Arabs.
Hebron's Jewish community issued a letter to the Israeli defense establishment decrying what it called indifference on the part of soldiers and police officers acting on official orders when confronted with Arabs attacking Jews, but who sprung to action when the Jews dared to respond.
Palestinians and their left-wing Israeli supporters maintained that the two settlers had fired toward a Palestinian home without provocation. They had no explanation for injuries sustained by one of the men.
The violence was a continuation of confrontations stemming from the brutal evacuation last week of several hundred Jewish settlers from a house they own in the heart of Hebron. The Israeli government ultimately took the side of Palestinian Arabs who insisted Jews were forbidden to live in that part of the ancient Judean city.
Hebron's Jews and their supporters from around Judea and Samaria have been demonized by the Israeli press and government officials for retaliating against the Arab aggression that greeted their presence in central Hebron.
This Oct. 3, 1980 file photo shows a scene after the bombing of the Copernic street synagogue, in Paris, that killed 4 people. AP Photo by Remy De La Mauviniere (daylife)
France seeks extradition of Canadian professor over 1980 bombing of Paris synagogue in which 4 died
French authorities are seeking the extradition of a Canadian sociology professor suspected in the October 3, 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people, including an Israeli woman, and wounded dozens.Hassan Diab, 54, a dual Lebanese-Canadian citizen who teaches at the University of Ottawa, was arrested at his home in Gatineau, Quebec on November 13 by Royal Canadian Mounted Police acting on a French request for extradition. French authorities have until the end of December to prove their case for extradition.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Michel Charbonneau ruled on Wednesday that Diab should remain in custody while awaiting a decision on his extradition, saying he poses a flight risk, AFP reported.
"There is a real possibility of him not appearing at his extradition hearing," it quoted the judge as saying. An extradition hearing is expected in February.
Diab is accused of planting a bomb in a motorcycle saddlebag outside the Copernic Street synagogue in a wealthy eastern Paris neighborhood on a Friday night, killing three Frenchmen and Aliza Shagrir, 42, and wounding 22 others.
Shagrir, an Israeli cinematographer, was walking past the synagogue with her 15-year-old son, Haggai, who today works at the Foreign Ministry. Her other son, Oron, is currently a university professor.
Her husband, the Austrian-born Micha Shagrir, 69, established the Aliza Shagrir Fund prize for outstanding documentaries in her name.
Micha Shagrir is a well-known television, film and documentary producer who lives in Jerusalem and has never remarried. He was appointed board chairman of Jerusalem's Khan Theater last year, and is a former director of the Sam Spiegel Film School and the Israel Film Foundation.
Speaking on the family's behalf, Oron Shagrir, Micha's son, said Thursday, "We are of course very happy that he has been arrested. We hope that he will be extradited to France, though we understand that process is neither short nor simple. And we praise the French for dedicating the utmost efforts to bringing this man to justice."
French authorities said at the time of the attack that they believed a Palestinian terrorist group planned it to target Jews as they walked out of a Shabbat evening service.
According to L'Express, French investigators suspected the bombing was organized by the Abu Nidal group, which was at odds with the PLO. It was the first fatal attack against the French Jewish community since the Nazi occupation. Some 250,000 demonstrators later marched through the streets of Paris to protest the attack.
"Better late than never after 30 years of silence," Rabbi Michael Williams, who officiated at the synagogue when the bomb exploded, was quoted by the European Jewish Press as saying of the arrest.
The French Jewish umbrella group, CRIF, praised the arrest, saying the attack was the first in France since World War II that "targeted Jews because they were Jews." The CRIF thanked investigators for their 28 years of perseverance in the case.
The French government at the time, under President Valerie Giscard D'Estaing, mostly ignored the attack, and did not even issue a condemnation. Premier Raymond Barre enraged French Jews by declaring that "three innocent people and one Jewess" had been killed.
Diab's arrest marks the the culmination of years of international anti-terrorist investigations, French authorities said.
In Paris, Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie praised the "excellent cooperation" between French and Canadian authorities.
Diab claimed he was innocent and a victim of "mistaken identity." "This is a case of mistaken identity," said Diab's lawyer, Rene Duval, who has insisted his client was not in Paris at the time of the bombing.
Duval said in a telephone interview with AFP that Diab had been studying in Beirut at the time of the synagogue bombing, and that he later moved to the United States to pursue a doctorate.
Before the arrest, Diab worked as a part-time professor of sociology and anthropology at Canada's Carleton University and as a lecturer at the University of Ottawa. He faces life in prison for murder if convicted in a French court.
French authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in November 2007, after receiving information from German intelligence that he was involved.
The French authorities reportedly identified Diab in 1999 in a card index of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) that came into the possession of German intelligence and was handed over to France.
Two French judges issued an international arrest warrant against Diab in early November.
Keeping with the international theme of the evening, I am reminded (again
) of Ocean Guy's post
describing a Palestinian terrorist in conversation with an American in 1970 (ten years before
the Paris synagogue bombing).
Bassam Abu Sharif was on the palestinian front line during the hijackings of September 1970. He has a website on which he has posted his personal photos and memories as a terrorist on the ground at Revolution Airstrip, or what had been Dawson Field, outside of Amman, Jordan. Why the hijackings? To get attention... to publicize their cause... and the media ate it up... and we ate up the medias' coverage.In one stroke of genius the palestinians gained the initiative and took control of the message that the world received. Here is Abu Sharif in his journal:
In September 1970 Wadi Haddad went for the big one: a multiple hijack. Haddad's plan was to hijack three New York-bound flights: El Al flight 219 from Amsterdam, a Swissair DC-8 out of Zurich and a TWA Boeing 707, flight 741 from Frankfurt. It was known that American hostages had the highest news value.
I asked one American who had done this where he thought he as. 'Somewhere in Africa?' he asked dazedly. 'No,' I told him 'You are in Jordan, and we are Palestinian guerrillas.' 'In Pakistan?' he asked, completely bewildered. 'No,' I said patiently. 'We are Palestinian. From Palestine. You know, the country that is now occupied by Israel.' But he didn't know. He had obviously never heard of Palestine. We will just have to go on hijacking until every American in the world has heard of it, I thought.
Talking to the people we held hostage, sometimes tete-a-tete, sometimes in a group, made me realize how few, still, knew anything at all about the plight of the Palestinians, despite widespread media coverage of our previous hijackings. The image the Israelis projected -of poor little Israel surrounded by murderous Arabs trying all the time to gobble it up - was widely accepted. The Israelis were still way ahead in the propaganda war, but we were catching up fast.
We're talking about three and four decades
ago. Just think how many people have grown up in a terror-ridden world, not having known anything else. We have not done well by our children