Archive for April 7th, 2010

SWI NEWS: Thursday, April 8, 2010 24 Nisan, 5770

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
Ashkenazi ends tenure as Israel's top soldier February. Galant leading candidate DEBKAfile Special Report April 6, 2010, 9:14 PM (GMT+02:00)
Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi bows out in February
 

Samaria Mayor: Our Case Against Destruction is Just

  by Hillel Fendel
With less than a month to go, residents of Eli hope the Supreme Court will decide not to allow the destruction of the homes of fallen war heroes Ro'i Klein and Eliraz Peretz in the Shomron. The Supreme Court will issue its ruling on a petition brought by the radical Peace Now organization, which demands that a small neighborhood in Eli be razed because it is "illegal." Peace Now claims that the homes are located on private Arab land; the residents and township say this is nonsense. Among the 24 families living in the HaYovel neighborhood are the widows and small children of Ro'i Klein and Eliraz Peretz, both of whom were killed in clashes with the enemy while serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Klein was killed in the summer of 2006, during the Second Lebanon War. While fighting for control of the hostile village of Bint Jbil in southern Lebanon, Maj. Klein and his men were ambushed by Hizbullah terrorists. At one point, Klein began treating one of his wounded comrades, at which point a terrorist hurled a grenade at the group. Ro'i yelled out "Shma Yisrael" and jumped upon the grenade, absorbing the brunt of the explosion, saving the men around him, and breathing his last a few seconds later. Peretz was killed less than two weeks ago in a clash with Moslem Arab terrorists in Gaza. The mayor of Eli, Kobi Eliraz, told Arutz-7 on Wednesday that, based on the facts alone, he expects the Supreme Court to turn down the Peace Now petition. "The homes of the Peretz and Klein families, just like the others in the neighborhood, are located on land owned by the State of Israel," Eliraz said. "The case has been ongoing for five years, and a final ruling is expected at the beginning of next month. "No Palestinians Other Than Peace Now Claim This Land" "This is nothing more than a political petition," he added, "and we are certain that we are in the right. The homes are on state-owned lands, and there is not one Palestinian, aside from Peace Now, who claims these lands as his own." "The Peace Now petition is based solely on the findings of the Talia Sasson report of 2005," Eliraz said, "which is a report that has no validity at all." Sasson, long known for her left-wing views – she ran for Knesset on the Meretz party list in 2009 – was asked to prepare a report on the "illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria." Often cited as being one-sided and biased, her report claimed that despite instrumental aid provided by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Housing and Construction and the World Zionist Organization, the outposts should be considered illegal. The Minister of Science, Rabbi Prof. Daniel Herskowitz, said at a Cabinet session on the report that “if you look at the outposts, you’ll see that their classification as illegal was made by Talia Sasson, who is not exactly an objective source. Often, the only reason for an outpost’s classification as illegal is not because of the residents themselves, but because of a technical government problem, and there is truly no legal problem at all.”  Mayor: Petition is Immoral Mayor Eliraz said that Peace Now's petition is immoral: "This neighborhood was built in the State of Israel's Jubilee year, and that's why it's called HaYovel . The Klein and Peretz families are perfect examples of the type of people who live here; they sense that they are on a national mission, and they include military men, public figures and of course Torah scholars. Suddenly, someone gets up and decides that it's an illegal outpost; this is not ethical. And the fact that two of those living here fell on behalf of the State of Israel merely intensifies our feelings. We hope that in three weeks, the Supreme Court will accept the State's  response on this matter, and that the homes will finally receive their final authorization." (IsraelNationalNews.com)

Jordan Wants a Piece of Jerusalem, Too

  by Shimon Cohen and Gil Ronen
Jordan has not waived its rights to sovereignty and responsibility over the Temple Mount, the Hashemite Kingdom's Minister of Islamic Affairs and Holy Sites, Abdel Salam Abbadi, said Tuesday.   The Minister said that in its 1988 decision to disconnect from Judea and Samaria, Jordan had not disengaged itself from Jerusalem and the holy sites, the Al Quds newspaper reported. Observers said that the minister's statements were not necessarily aimed solely at Israeli ears. It could be that Jordan wants to stake out its claim to Jerusalem because the Palestinian Authority is currently demanding the Holy City for itself with overt United States support, and Jordan does not want to be left out. Senior PA officials are currently in the US, poring over maps and other documents that they intend to present before the American administration as proof that the PA is capable of controlling areas under its authority. The presentation is intended to bolster new demands from Israel for territorial handovers, including areas of Jerusalem such as Abu Dis.  (IsraelNationalNews.com)
 

Israel Completes Upgrading Turkey's Tanks

  by Hillel Fendel
Despite the Turkish antagonism to Israel of late, business is business: A joint Turkish-Israeli project to revamp and upgrade 170 Turkish tanks has been completed. The last of the tanks, model M60A1, was delivered to Turkey this week, completing the program jointly carried out by the Turkish Defense Ministry, Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit Systems. The program was the largest of its kind in the world, and the tanks are now equivalent to the highest-level tanks in the world. The nearly-$700 million deal was signed in March 2002. It is not clear if the successful conclusion of the project will lead to better ties between Turkey and Israel, or perhaps Turkey's new-found lack of dependency upon Israel will lead it further towards Islamic extremists. Turkey’s M60A1 tanks started out as 40-year-old American armored vehicles, but now boast state-of-the-art weapons systems that combine the best of tankionics, fire power, sensors, and more. Turkey’s Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul outlined, at the concluding ceremony, the technological advantages of the upgraded tanks, and noted that it had undergone very thorough – and successful – checking prior to operative use. He added that in order to access the knowledge and experience acquired in the course of the project, Israel Aircraft Industries and a Turkish company had signed a cooperative agreement, with the goal of working together on additional projects throughout the world.   Defense Ministry Director-General Gen. (res.) Udi Shani said, “I am proud to be here on Turkish soil and to take part in this ceremony. Another joint project has ended successfully. This project is unique in its scope in both countries, which recruited its best forces for the mission.” (IsraelNationalNews.com)
 

Israel Distributes Gas Masks Nationwide by Hana Levi Julian

Israel has begun its nationwide program to provide protection kits with gas masks to every citizen in the country, and for the first time ever, the IDF Home Front Command has teamed up with the nation's Postal Service to distribute the equipment. The campaign, officially launched on Tuesday, is being carried out to ensure that every Israeli will be protected in case of chemical, biological or other attack that could temporarily threaten one's ability to breathe. Citizens are able to obtain their kits in two ways – either by going to one of several distribution stations currently in the process of opening up throughout the country, or by calling the Israel Postal Service and asking for the kits to be mailed directly to the home. The first distribution points are expected to open in Ashdod and Rishon LeTzion, with eight more stations to open shortly thereafter in the Tel Aviv metro area, Jerusalem, Be'er Sheva, Haifa and the surrounding area. Israelis choosing the second option are asked to call the Israel Postal Authority's “171” hotline and coordinate a time for delivery of the kit to the home. The delivery service costs NIS 25 (approximately $7) per household. Several weeks ago, the project was piloted in the Beka'at Ono area, where some 70,000 were distributed via the postal service. “The high satisfaction with the Home Front Command's service regarding the distribution time and according to the terms of the agreement with the Israel Post has brought further cooperation with them on a national level,” explained the IDF Spokesman in a statement on the army's website. Individual protection kits were first distributed to the citizens of Israel on the eve of the American Gulf War with Iraq in 1990. Routine maintenance of the kits was subsequently provided by Home Front Command until 2003. As the kits reached their expiration dates, and demographic changes took place across the country, the government collected the kits for rehabilitation and upgrading in a drive that took place from 2007 to 2008. Home Front Command may be reached by dialing ”1207” from any telephone in Israel. (IsraelNationalNews.com)
    New al Qaeda Levant chief plans fresh assaults from Gaza, Lebanon DEBKAfile Special Report April 6, 2010, 11:38 AM (GMT+02:00)
New al Qaeda regional chief: Saleh Al-Qaraawi
   How Israelis View U.S.-Israel Relations

JERUSALEM, Israel -- Some are calling the recent dispute between the U.S. and Israel over Israel's building in Jerusalem the worst diplomatic crisis in more than three decades. But how are Israelis feeling about the state of relations between the two countries?

The crisis began nearly one month ago during a visit from U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden when a local planning board approved the construction of 1,600 more apartments in a Jerusalem neighborhood, a location Israel felt it had a legitimate right to build in.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement "insulting." Later in the month, the White House refused to allow the press to cover a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many in Israel and in the U.S. saw the incident as an unprecedented public snub to an Israeli leader. These actions and others by the Obama administration have many Israelis worried.

"On the one hand people I think people in Israel are very confident about the shared values, the shared heritage, the shared relationship and even the shared and common enemies that we face particularly after 9/11," said Ranann Gissen, former advisor to the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "But they're quite worried about the president. They're quite worried about the publicized expression and his background and they don't know because they were used to different kinds of presidents."

What the Polls Say

A recent poll showed an overwhelming majority of Israelis feel the Obama administration's attack on Israel for building in Jerusalem was "out of proportion." Seventy-five percent of Israelis felt the Obama administration overreacted, according to the IMRA (Independent Media Review Analysis).

The recent crisis seems to reinforce the view many Israelis share about the Obama administration.

For example, another recent poll conducted by Smith Research showed just 9 percent of Israelis feel the Obama administration is pro-Israel.

Obama Targeting Iran -- or Israel?

Some suspect the Obama administration is more interested in regime change in Israel than in Iran. Gissen believes the crisis over building in Jerusalem obscures the real danger in the Middle East, a nuclear Iran.

"There's a critical question," Gissen said. "A strategic critical question and that is what's going to be on the agenda, Jerusalem which cannot be resolved right now or Iran. We've got to put Iran on the agenda and take Jerusalem off the agenda."

But whether the agenda will change remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Iran has issued a warning saying that if Israel launches an attack, the Iranians will strike back by launching missiles at Tel Aviv.


Netanyahu Will Attend U.S. Nuclear Summit

JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will join more than 40 world leader's next week at the U.S.-sponsored nuclear security summit in Washington.

Shaul Horev, director-general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and National Security Advisor Uzi Arad will be among the senior officials accompanying the prime minister.

While President Barack Obama plans to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Chinese President Hu Jintao, among others, he will not meet with Netanyahu, citing their recent visit and time constraints.

On Tuesday, Obama presented his administration's nuclear policy, which some analysts believe compromises U.S. national security.

In one of several significant shifts from former President George W. Bush, Obama's policy restricts U.S. use of nuclear arms, rejects the development of new atomic weaponry and calls for more cuts in America's stockpile.

The new policy states that the U.S. military will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if attacked with biological or chemical weapons.

If, however, the government believes the U.S. would be subject to a devastating biological attack, the plan provides the option of reconsidering the use of a nuclear deterrent.

Obama also banned the use of terrorist terminology such as Islamic extremism and jihad ("holy" war) from the policy.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Israel will not be negatively impacted by the Obama administration's policy shift, especially regarding Iran.

Following a phone call from U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher on Tuesday, Ayalon said the White House will continue to support Israel's traditional policy of ambiguity concerning its nuclear capabilities.

"Israel and the U.S. see eye to eye on the Iranian issue," Ayalon said. "The latest statements from Washington show their patience has been stretched to the limit ," he said.

Because Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Israeli delegation may be subjected to verbal attacks by Arab and Muslim leaders at the summit.

Israel has maintained a policy of ambiguity – not confirming or denying its possession of nuclear weapons, though some experts say Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons – as a deterrent policy because it is surrounded by Arab countries traditionally forsworn to its destruction.

  In introductory interviews to Islamist websites, Saleh Al-Qaraawi, the newly-appointed al Qaeda chief in the Levant (Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian territories) threatens to loose a fresh wave of attacks on US and Israeli targets as well as UN peacekeepers in South Lebanon. debkafile's counter-terror sources report that Al-Qaraawi (aka Star of Piety), a Saudi aged 40, is on the oil kingdom's list of 85 most wanted terrorists. He is married to the daughter of another terrorist high on the wanted list, Sheikh Hazeima. Al Qaeda's sites present Al Qaraawi as Commander of the "Abdullah Azzam Brigades," named for Osama bin Laden's precursor as the jihadi organization's founding ideologue in the late 1980s. He is thought to be a personal appointee of al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman Zuwahri, who is chief of operations for the Middle East region. In one of the interviews, the new man says the time has come to intensify attacks on Israel from two bases:  the Gaza Strip, where al Qaeda has established a stronghold, and Lebanon. Our military sources report that the cluster of groups affiliated to al Qaeda, which have sprung up in the Gaza Strip under the Jalalat umbrella, keep their hand in with the occasional Qassam or mortar attack across the border into Israel. But most of their energies go into building up their power base in the southern areas of Khan Younes and Deir al-Balakh and pushing Hamas out. Building on Al Qaraawi's rich operational experience in Saudi Arabia - high command of the Saudi arena is said to be on his resume - his new job is to inject fresh impetus into cross-border offensives from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. As for assaults on US targets in the Levant area, al Qaeda plans to use the Kingdom of Jordan as its main arena, as it has in the past. Al Qaeda's most ambitious operation from Gaza was mounted eleven months ago, on June 8, 2009, when a large contingent of raiders, some on horseback, swept across the border at several points from north to south. An estimated 10 gunmen attacked a Golani infantry patrol and tried to kidnap Israeli soldiers. In the ensuing battle, a back-up al Qaeda force fired mortars from inside the Gaza Strip. That operation failed in its purpose but demonstrated the scale of attacks the Islamist organization is planning to mount from the Gaza Strip against southern Israel. Three months later, on Sept 11 2009, al Qaeda marked the date of its New York atrocity by firing two 122mm Grad missiles from the Qlaileh area in South Lebanon into Western Galilee, where they exploded on open ground near Kibbutz Gesher Haziv. 
Defense minister Ehud Barak informed Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi Tuesday, April 6, that his four-year tenure as IDF chief of staff would not be extended when it runs out next February. This decision was approved by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. debkafile's military sources report that neither was satisfied that Ashkenazi's performance and strategic approach were appropriate in the light of current security threats. Both hold his military ability in high esteem, but since he was hurriedly appointed chief of staff in early 2007, Ashkenazi has shown little appetite for turning his talents into proactive field combat. In the early 2009 Cast Lead operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, our sources report Barak and Ashkenazi did not work well together. At the time, the defense minister was highly impressed by the decisiveness and tactics employed in the operation by the far more hawkish OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant. Ashkenazi virtually blocked Galant's path as his successor by vetoing his promotion to deputy chief of staff, the usual jumping-off slot to the top post. The prime minister and defense minister decided nonetheless that the commander of the Gaza sector was the tough, practical leader the armed forces need at a time of looming peril from a nuclearized Iran and its allies and the unsettled situation on two of Israel's borders. The transition is expected to begin shortly. In a statement Tuesday night, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi explained he had not applied for a fifth-year extension because he fully approved of the government's unanimous decision when he took the job not to extend the tenure of any chief of staff beyond four years - except in extraordinary emergency circumstances. "We face complicated security problems and exceptional challenges from near and far which oblige is all to focus on essentials - and that is what we shall do," said the chief of staff.