Abbas: No temporary borders for state
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND TOVAH LAZAROFF
Mitchell expected to leave Israel without launching proximity talks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said he strongly opposes the idea of a Palestinian state with temporary borders or a “one-state solution,” saying the Palestinians remained committed to the two-state solution.
Abbas’s remarks came a day after he met in his Ramallah office with US special envoy George Mitchell, who briefed him on his talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier in the day.
Mitchell arrived in Israel on Thursday amid high hopes of a breakthrough that would launch proximity talks between Israel and the PA.
Outside of meetings on Friday with Netanyahu and Abbas, Mitchell spoke with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres. He is scheduled to hold a second meeting with Netanyahu on Sunday before he flies back to Washington.
But already on Friday night, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, “Are we expecting a breakthrough through this visit? Probably not.”
Chief PA Negotiator Saeb Erekat said after the Abbas-Mitchell meeting that it was premature to talk about the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the coming days. He said that Mitchell would pursue his efforts to reach an agreement that would allow the two sides to return to the negotiating table.
A PA official in Ramallah said that Mitchell did not bring anything new.
“We keep hearing the same things again and again,” the official said. “Our position is clear. There will be no resumption of the talks until the settlement construction stops, not only in the West Bank but also in east Jerusalem.”
The prime minister has adamantly refused to stop construction in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
In an interview with ABC early in the week, he said that such a notion was a “non-starter.” On Thursday night, hours after Mitchell arrived in Israel, Netanyahu told Channel 2 this was a “red line” he did not intend to cross.
Still, Barak, who himself heads to Washington on Sunday for a weeklong visit to the US, told Channel 1 on Friday evening that he hoped proximity talks could be launched within two weeks.
Direct talks with the Palestinians were broken off at the end of 2008, during Operation Cast Lead, and were not resumed when Netanyahu took office in March 2009, despite his repeated calls for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
In early March, Mitchell had secured a Palestinian agreement to start proximity talks. But the Palestinians changed their minds after an Interior Ministry committee advanced a plan to build 1,600 Jewish homes in northeast Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.
It is expected that before he would agree to hold proximity talks, Abbas would seek the approval of the Arab League, which is set to meet on May 1. He is not expected to press for such approval until Israel cedes to his demand to halt construction.
According to media reports, Netanyahu has offered the Palestinians other incentives to agree to proximity talks, such as releasing Palestinian security prisoners and removing IDF road blocks in the West Bank.
The Jerusalem Post had also reported that Israel had a plan to withdraw to where the IDF was deployed in the West Bank before the outbreak of the second intifada in late 2000. In addition, it was reported that Netanyahu offered Abbas a state with temporary borders on anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the West Bank.
A diplomatic source, however, denied that Israel had made such a proposal.
The source added that the idea of a “temporary state” was included in the road map and in addition had been part of diplomatic discourse for a decade.
Addressing the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah, Abbas said of the idea of a state with temporary borders, “Please forget about it.” He said that his idea was first mentioned in the road map, but only as an option. He claimed that while the Palestinians have abided by all terms of the road map, “Israel has not fulfilled any of its commitments.”
The Fatah Revolutionary Council began a series of meetings aimed at supporting Palestinian “popular resistance” and voicing solidarity with “martyrs and prisoners” in Israeli prisons.
Abbas called on Israel to halt all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem so as to pave the way for the launching of “real negotiations” over final-status issues under US, Arab and international auspices. He expressed his belief that an agreement could then be achieved within two years.
Abbas likened Israel’s “occupation” to the “apartheid regime” in South Africa and said there was a need for a “brave” Israeli leadership to change the situation.
The PA president also denied that the Palestinians had set conditions for resuming peace talks with Israel. He said that previous agreements between the two sides prohibited unilateral actions that could prejudice the outcome of the final-status negotiations. Abbas also renewed his call for reconciliation between his Fatah faction and Hamas. He urged the Islamist movement to accept the latest Egyptian proposal for ending the Fatah-Hamas dispute.
Addressing Hamas, he declared: “Let’s arrive at the moment of truth. Let’s reach understandings, because if the difference is over one point here and one point there, then you are not serious.”
Abbas called on US President Barack Obama to impose a Middle East peace deal. In an unusually blunt appeal, Abbas said that if Obama believes Palestinian statehood is a vital US interest, then the American leader must take forceful steps to bring it about.
“Since you, Mr. President, and you, the members of the American administration, believe in this, it is your duty to call for the steps in order to reach the solution and impose the solution – impose it,” Abbas said in a speech to leaders of his Fatah movement.
“But don’t tell me it’s a vital national strategic American interest... and then not do anything,” he said.
Barak told Channel 1 on Friday that Israel should come up with its own peace plan.
Before his meeting with Mitchell, Netanyahu said that he looked forward to working with Obama and Mitchell to advance peace.
Relations between the US and Israel have been strained since the Ramat Shlomo announcement in the midst of a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.
On Friday, Netanyahu and Mitchell were careful to shake hands warmly in front of the cameras.
Mitchell quoted from Obama’s statement to Israel on Independence Day, in which he said, “We continue to share a strong unbreakable bond of friendship between our two nations. Anchored by the United States’ enduring commitment to Israel’s security, Israel remains our important partner and key strategic ally in the Middle East.
Near-Lynch Sheds Light on Why Police Don't Get Involved
by Maayana Miskin
A near-lynch in Jerusalem last week led police to admit that they have a policy of not getting involved when Arabs attack Jewish motorists, a victim says. Baruch Heller, whose car was smashed by Arabs as he left the Kotel (Western Wall), spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service about the attack, and what it taught him about police policy.
Heller travels to the Kotel via the majority-Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber on a regular basis, and has seen masked Arab men in the street before, apparently looking for Jewish drivers. In the past, he has been mistaken for Arab, he said, and so has not been attacked.
Last week, he and a friend were driving between Jabel Mukaber and the adjacent neighborhood Mei Shiloach (Silwan). They passed a Border Police vehicle, and immediately afterward, drove straight into an Arab riot.
"It was a part of the road where there's no way to turn around, and right there, I saw thirty or forty masked men surrounding us. I took my kippah off immediately. I opened the window and yelled at them in Arabic to let us through,” he recalled.
The men began to yell at him and hit the car with metal rods, he said. “They did think we were Arabs, but they were annoyed that we were arguing with them,” he explained. Finally, the two managed to turn around and drive back.
Police won't get involved
When they returned to the Border Police jeep “they saw the car had been hit. We thought they would rush over to see if anyone was injured, but they did nothing. They said they had orders not to intervene, and if we wanted to file a complaint, we should go to the 'Oz' station,” Heller said.
When they reached the police station, officers showed more concern. “The soldiers there rushed toward us, they wanted to hear details – but then someone came and presented himself as the commanding officer and asked us to show him the car, asked about the Border police officers we'd met... asked all sorts of random questions,” he said.
While at the station, Heller said, he managed to get an officer to explain why police stand to the side while Arabs attack Jewish motorists. Arabs attack cars in order to force police to enter their neighborhoods, so they can attack them, the officer explained.
For that reason, he said, police have been ordered not to be drawn into areas where there is frequent trouble.
Police may fear that clashes with Arabs would lead to casualties among the Arab rioters. In the past, violent riots in which Arabs were injured have led to inquiries into police behavior, such as the Or Commission that investigated police officers following Arab deaths in the October 2000 riots.
Heller and his friend have filed a complaint with police over the incident. In addition, they have written to the Jerusalem city council and to officials responsible for Arab neighborhoods in particular, explaining the problems they encountered when dealing with the police, and expressing hope that policy will change in the future. (IsraelNationalNews.com)
Orlev: Arab MKs Who Visited Libya Can't Serve in Next Term
by Gil Ronen
Police arrest band of 3 kidnappers
MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home) said Sunday that six Arab MKs who visited Libya have disqualified themselves from running for the Knesset again.
Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi hosted six Arab members of the Israeli Knesset and forty other Arab public figures from Israel Sunday. He spoke before them for more than an hour inside a giant Bedouin tent in the city of Sirat.
MK Orlev noted that a law which he had initiated, and that was passed in the previous Knesset, determines that a candidate for Knesset who illegally visited an enemy state in the seven years preceding the election will be seen as having supported armed struggle against Israel and disqualified from running.
Libya an enemy?
Orlev said that he checked with the Defense Ministry and Ministry of Interior and confirmed that Libya is on the list of enemy states, and that the MKs did not receive permission to travel to Libya. The MKs who traveled to Libya include Ahmed Tibi and Taleb A-Sana of Raam-Taal and Muhammad Barakeh of Hadash..
Orlev sent a letter to Judge Ayala Procaccia, the Chairwoman of the Central Elections Committee for elections to the 19th Knesset, and asked that the committee meet soon to decide that the participating MKs and the parties that they represent are disqualified from running for another term.
MK David Rotem (Israel Our Home), Chairman of the Knesset's Constitution Law and Justice Committee, said in a discussion
of the MKs' trip earlier in the day that Libya is not formally considered an enemy state. (IsraelNationalNews.com)
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Gang held prominent J'lem businesswoman, maid for $3.5m. ransom.
Pakistani centrifuges launched Iran's nuclear program 24 years ago
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 25, 2010, 4:55 PM (GMT+02:00)
Jerusalem Police on Sunday cleared for publication details of a kidnapping and multi-million dollar ransom attempt on a prominent Jerusalem businesswoman and her housekeeper, which began in the capital two weeks ago, and ended days later outside an apartment in Petah Tikva.
According to police, the affair began on April 11, when three men from the Tel Aviv area knocked on the door at the woman’s residence in the luxury David’s Village complex in the capital’s Mamilla quarter.
One of the men, carrying a handgun, identified himself as a security guard and asked the woman to open the door.
When she did, all three men pushed their way into the apartment and ordered both the businesswoman and her housekeeper to pack clothes for “an extended stay.”
“If you don’t come easily, there is another way,” one of the kidnappers threatened the women at gunpoint, police said.
Neither of the women’s names have been cleared for publication by police.
While the women packed, the kidnappers took their cellphones and then began rummaging through the apartment, stealing two personal computers, expensive jewelry and a valuable hand-painted Chinese egg.
The kidnappers then loaded the two women into a Suzuki van and drove to Petah Tikva.
The following day, police received complaints from the housekeeper’s family and the businesswoman’s personal assistant regarding the pair’s disappearance.
The callers both told police they feared the women were in danger, and police began to put together a special investigation team comprised of Jerusalem and Central district detectives, and officers from the special investigations unit and a special intelligence unit.
“The police opened an investigation, and after reviewing security camera footage, ascertained that in fact, the three men, one of them armed, had entered the building on the 11th ,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “The investigation then obviously took on a much more serious tone.”
A fax was received by the businesswoman’s accountant in Luxembourg, demanding that she transfer $3.5 million to a bank account in Sofia, Bulgaria. The fax was written in the businesswoman’s handwriting and had her signature on it.
Investigators employed a number of tactics to locate the women, including cellular location technology, which led police to a building on Zohar Street in Petah Tikva.
Detectives and SWAT team members surrounded the building. Officers refrained from entering the building immediately, out of fear for the safety of the women and their forces, as the kidnappers were considered to be armed and dangerous.
On April 13, police spotted one of the suspects leaving the apartment building with the two women, getting into the van and driving off. Police later ascertained that the suspects, wary of a police raid, wanted to move the women to another location.
Detectives followed the van, pulling it over at the Shimshon junction, where the women were rescued and the driver, 45-year-old Petah Tikva resident Michael Yuroslavsky, was subdued and arrested.
Meanwhile, detectives and SWAT officers raided the apartment, where they turned up dozens of automatic weapons, including handguns and rifles, ammunition magazines, commando knives, silencers, handcuffs, legcuffs, ski masks, bullet-proof vests, night vision goggles, telescopic weapon sights, a slew of counterfeit passports, Israeli IDs, army IDs and make-up kits – presumably to be used for disguises in the suspects’ getaway.
Investigators continued tracking down the suspects, and with assistance from Petah Tikva Police, arrested Robert Abayev, a 38-year-old Bat Yam resident, as he was leaving a house on his way to the apartment where the hostages had been held.
After questioning the two suspects, who admitted to their roles in the kidnapping, police determined that they had secured the women with duct tape in the apartment and held them at gunpoint.
As the two were being questioned, a third suspect, Anton Nati Petrokov, was arrested in Bat Yam with his girlfriend. Inside Petrokov’s apartment, police found the two stolen computers and the Chinese egg, along with two packed suitcases, which police said contained clothes for Petrokov and his girlfriend, who were planning to fly to an undisclosed European location.
“This was a fairly complicated police operation,” Rosenfeld said. “All in all it took police 48 hours from the time they received word of the possible kidnapping on April 12, to the time the women were freed and the suspects arrested.”
On Sunday, all of the suspects had their remands extended in Jerusalem District Court for 10 days. In addition to kidnapping, the suspects are being charged with robbery and attempted murder. Police expect to make additional arrests in the case.
Syria sends Hizballah Scuds in disassembled batches
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 23, 2010, 11:54 PM (GMT+02:00)
Ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati
Syria has smuggled three consignments of disassembled Scud A ground missile components across the border to the Lebanese Hizballah, debkafile
disclose from Middle East intelligence and military sources Friday, April 23. They do not add up to a complete set of parts for an operational Scud missile. However, another five shipments, awaiting handover at Syrian border bases will provide the missing elements for complete weapons.
Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak disclosed Friday night that Syria had transferred "Scud missile parts" to Lebanon, refusing to elaborate. But he accused Syria of providing Hizballah with game-changing weapons which jeopardized regional stability.
According to Western intelligence sources, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put in an urgent phone call to Syrian president Bashar Assad Thursday, April 22, to urge Assad to make as many Scud transfers to Lebanon as possible and enable Hizballah to deploy them opposite Israel without delay. He implied that speed was necessary because Iran is preparing to strike out against US Middle East interests and he wants Iran's Lebanese proxy to be ready for all possible eventualities. The Iranian president dismissed Israel as a declining force with its political and military strength in a state of paralysis.
The two presidents speculated about the source of the leak to the media about the Scuds for Hizballah. Ahmadinejad said Iranian intelligence had turned up a source in the Syrian military who was probably a mole and offered to help hunt him down.
Friday night too, the Obama administration stamped down harder on Damascus, warning Syria that providing Hizballah "a wider array" of missiles" carried serious consequences. The diplomat, who declined to be named, said: We are concerned with the broadening nature of cooperation between Syria and Hizballah." He stopped short of accusing Syria of arming Hizballah with Scud missiles: "… we have no evidence of Scuds crossing into Lebanon, that's something… to watch," he said.
Earlier, US Assistant Secretary of State Jerry Feldman told members of Congress that the administration condemns in the strongest terms Syria's "provocative" behavior in transferring arms to Hizballah. On April 21, a senior Syrian diplomat was summoned to the state department for the fourth strong dressing-down
Ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati revealed for the first time that he brought Iran its first centrifuges for uranium enrichment as far back as 1986, escorting them on the flight from Pakistan aboard the private plane of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution or Iran.
His disclosure was carried by the semi-official weekly Panjereh Saturday, April 24. According to debkafile
's Iranian sources, Velayati, today one of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's most influential advisers, is in charge of Tehran's nuclear diplomacy and the backroom planning of its tactics for resisting international pressure against its program.
The Panjereh report may therefore be assumed to have an ulterior motive - probably to make trouble between the United States and Pakistan while at the same time showing how the West was too feeble to stall Iran's nuclear program - not just in recent years but for almost a quarter of a century.
Our intelligence and counter-terror sources disclose that the centrifuges he brought in came with the first Pakistani technical specifications for building a bomb and missiles for their delivery. Velayati did not admit this. Neither did he disclose how much Iran paid for the prize. Our sources estimate that around $30 million was handed over to Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb. A.Q Khan also ran a global nuclear black market run in conjunction with the Islamabad government, which was then headed by Gen. Zi ul-Haq, Pakistan's first military ruler.
There are other omissions in the long Velayati interview, such as where Khomeinei's aircraft landed to pick up the centrifuges, which he claims were loaded aboard the Iran-bound flight without the knowledge of the government in Islamabad. He also denies he ever met A.Q. Khan.
The key element of his account is the delivery date of Iran's first centrifuges.
It has always been conventionally assumed that Iran decided to go nuclear after it was defeated by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces in 1988. Khomeini's abject capitulation to the ceasefire terms dictated by Iraq was thought to have persuaded him that possession of an atomic bomb would save Iran from these humiliations in the future. However Velayati's new disclosure dispels that assumption, predating the covert creation of Iran's nuclear program by two years when Iraqi missiles were still blasting Iran and leaving whole cities, including districts of Tehran, in ruins.
Setting his Islamic Republic on the road to a nuclear bomb did not deter revolutionary leader Khomeini from maintaining that the Islamic faith bans the use of nuclear arms or any other weapons of mass destruction.
This double standard still governs Iran today. Supreme ruler Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, consistently argue that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic, while pushing forward their covert plans for a nuclear bomb full tilt.
As for Velayati's colorful past, debkafile
's intelligence sources report he has avoided foreign travel for some years because his name appears on several wanted lists as a mastermind of terror. Argentina, for instance, has a warrant out for his arrest as a suspect in engineering the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, the first Middle East terrorist outrage in Latin America, in which 29 people were killed and more than 250 injured.