Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University discusses Jerusalem and the settlements on Al Jazeera.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University discusses Jerusalem and the settlements on Al Jazeera.
Egyptian security authorities announced the arrest of 25 Palestinians, who they claim have links to the Al Qaeda terror organization and were plotting to bomb American and other ships passing through the Suez Canal. The terror cell planned to fabricate bombs that could be detonated by using cell phones, Egyptian authorities said. The group planned to make car bombs to bomb oil and gas pipe lines running across and alongside the canal; and bombs that could be ferried to the passing vessels in small boats, similar to the way the American destroyer, USS Cole, was severely damaged by Al Qaeda suicide boat bombers in the Gulf of Aden in October, 2000.
The Suez Canal has seen a heavy use of marine traffic lately, despite the frequent attacks by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. Many American naval vessels pass through the canal on their way to and from the Persian Gulf; and with things heating up in Iran, especially following the demonstrations against the results of the June 12th elections there, levels of security alert have been increased by US naval bases in the Persian Gulf.
More recently, Israeli naval vessels have passed through the canal, including at least one submarine capable of firing nuclear tipped missiles; which the Israeli Navy said is to show the Iranians that Israel is watching events going on in Iran very closely.
These and other Palestinians could well be parts of large groups of Palestinians who crossed into Egypt over a year ago when they bombed parts of the security fence between Gaza and Egypt. Although most of the thousands of Palestinians who went on “shopping sprees” in Egypt eventually returned to Gaza, many did not; and they are still hanging out in various parts of the Sinai Peninsula, including along the Red Sea coast; where many Israelis and Egyptians like to go for holiday vacations. For this reason, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is constantly advising Israelis to refrain from vacationing in the Sinai, due to a very real threat of kidnappings and terror attacks.
The 25 detainees told Egyptian authorities that they had received funds for these terror operations from Islamic charities abroad, many of whom are actually fronts for terror organizations like AL Qaeda and Hezbollah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally put forward the concept of a Palestinian State in his address Sunday night before a packed audience at the BESA Center at Bar-Ilan University. In his carefully worded address, much shorter than the one U.S. President Barack Obama had given in Cairo a week before, Netanyahu said that he supports the idea of a Palestinian State alongside a Jewish one. “I come to you, the Palestinian People â€“ come, let us have peace together and develop the region together”.
He noted that this state, when created, must abide by a number of principles; including being fully demilitarized and not allowed to have an air force, navy or mechanized army, and that they would only be allowed to have enough small arms to maintain law an order and preserve their national security. “We are prepared to let the Palestinians live in their designated areas but we don’t want to have their missiles landing on our cities such as Kfar Sava and Petach Tikvah, as well as our international airport” he continued.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Israel will remain a Jewish State with an undivided capital in Jerusalem. He said that the lands upon which the Palestinian claim as their national homeland is also Jewish homeland with a historical connection going back 3,400 years. He added that these lands are the ones given by God to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and as such “will remain as an indispensable part of the Jewish Homeland”. He added that one of the conditions of the Palestinians being allowed to have “their little state” would be their recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. He was quick to add that the Palestinians would be allowed their national identity and religious freedom within their own borders. “We don’t want to impose our religion, flag, or national identity upon them” he said.
In reference to what President Obama had said about “the state of Israel being created as a result of the horrors of the Holocaust”, he pointed out that Jewish claim to this land goes back more than 3,500 years. He further pointed out that had a Jewish state been established earlier (at the time of Balfour Declaration for example) “there might not have been a Holocaust as Jews would have had a place to go to prior to the onset on WWII.
The question of Palestinian refugees was also mentioned and this issue would not be acceptable within the borders of Israel. “A solution will be found for these refugees, but outside Israel’s borders”, he added.
Netanyahu both began and ended his 30 minute speech by offering to reach out to the heads of all Arab states who are interested in having peace with Israel. “I am prepared to meet with Arab leaders anytime, anywhere, including Beirut, Damascus â€“even Jerusalem”. He specifically mentioned that he would not meet with terrorists, but did say that his government would make the return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit “a top priority”.
He ended his speech by calling upon leaders of the Arab World “to continue the path of Menachem Begin and (slain Egyptian president) Anwar Sadat in making peace with Israel. “We must not forget the sacrifices they made for peace” he said, and ended by quoting a passing from the biblical Book of Isaiah: “nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they commit war anymore”.
Now the ball is in the Palestinian’s court.
The reality of an actual State of Palestine came one step closer following Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu’s telephone conversation Monday with U.S. President Barack Obama. Following conversation, said to be mostly positive, the Obama administration the formation of a special executive committee that will work toward the reality of a Palestinian State, along side with the State of Israel.. The special committee will work closely with groups from both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in all relevant areas, including administration, land appropriation ( including final border lines); economic and social preparation, and other important areas.
In the immediate future, according to their conversation, Israel is to freeze the formation of all new settlement activity, as well as the expansion of present settlements. All activity connected with illegal “outpost” settlements is specifically forbidden and those involved in it (especially in a violent nature) will be subject to full legal prosecution.
A special international conference, made of both Israeli and Arab delegates is to meet in the coming months to work out to terms of the two state agreement; according to proposed requirements from both sides.
The White House is still waiting to receive the answers to two important questions from P.M. Netanyahu concerning this entire matter: s Israel ready to stop construction of outpost settlements and is Israel ready to enter into negotiations on the reality of two separate states? Both aides presently have issues that are in conflict with each other, especially in regards to final territorial agreements, and whether the new state of Palestine will be allowed to have full nation status, including the right to a self defense force similar to neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon. Israeli government officials are more in favor of a neutrality arrangement for the Palestinians in which they will have a neutral status, similar to Austria or Switzerland, and be limited to a paramilitary police force similar that what they presently have.
Arab countries, who will hopefully be participating in helping the Palestinians achieve statehood, want Israel to go back to the pre-June 1967 borders; something that at present is not acceptable with most Israelis. Many Arab leaders, including those in favor of the “Saudi Plan” say that if Israeli agrees to this, it will receive full recognition by most Arab countries. Countries who will be actively participating in the diplomatic process include the US, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Persian Gulf Emirate states. Many other countries are expected to join in as the process moves toward the 2012 target date completion.
How the Hamas ruled section of Palestine in Gaza will figure in to all of this still very much an undecided issue at present, and this is one of the most problematic issues of the entire matter. There is also the matter of Israel (and all Jews for that matter) being fully accepted by the Muslim World; especially by Islamic clerics, who still preach from their mosques that all Jews are “descendents from pigs and monkeys”. Unless this attitude changes, the likelihood of a Jewish State of Israel ever being accepted by the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims is very distant indeed.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesmen have blasted a UN report blaming the IDF for excessive damage to Palestinian and UN installations during the January Operation Cast Lead military conflict in Gaza. The report specifically mentioned damage and casualties sustained to a UN food and supply depot, where tons of rice, sugar and other foodstuffs were being stored, as well as medical supplies. Palestinian schools and other institutions shelled and bombed by the IDF were also mentioned as being targets during the 21 day operation.
Government and IDF spokesmen refuted these claims, saying that eyewitness accounts, as well as ground and aerial photos indicated that Palestinian fighters were either using these facilities to fire at IDF units or were shooting Qassam and other missiles at Israeli cities and settlements from them, as well as store arms and munitions. Due to the intense crowded conditions of these areas, if Palestinians were launching attacks from buildings located next to UN installations, or schools, hospitals and other facilities, it was very difficult to avoid hitting other buildings; as often was the case.
The apparent bias of the report, which appear to disregard Israeli claims that the IDF did not intentionally fire on UN and other high profile locations, indicates that Israel is getting the “short end of the stick” in regards to the UN’s apportionment of blame.
A letter sent by the Israeli government to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted specifically that the IDF did its utmost to coordinate all operations with UN personnel, and worked in close cooperation with UN inspection teams following the end of the fighting. It was noted in the letter that the UN inspection team is not a legal authority, and hence has no right to function in that capacity.
Hamas leaders were specifically pointed out as using violence and intimidation against the Palestinian population to prevent them from telling the truth as to what really happened during this time. This includes that fact that Hamas placed its men and military equipment in close proximity to these installations, in order to make it more difficult for the IDF when attacking Palestinian insurgents; something not mentioned in the U.N. report.
On matter that wasn’t brought up was the fact that foreign reporters were prevented from entering Gaza during the operation, and were forced to set up their news centers on a hill outside the border with Gaza; the hill subsequently being named “the hill of shame.” Undoubtedly, a number of these journalists, and their auxiliary crews, are alive and well today due to this fact. But of course, that’s another issue.
If any of you read an article in Friday’s Haaretz about an interview with former police psychologist Zvi Sela, now turned writer, you may have been as surprised as we were to read Sela’s remarks about deceased Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, whom Sela met with many times during Yassin’s imprisonment in Hadarim Prison, south of Raanana. Sela, who worked for many years as a senior police officer and has a PHD in educational psychology, told Haaretz reporter, Kobi Ben-Shalom, that Yassin, though cruel and ruthless, and responsible for most of the suicide bombings that were killing scores of Israelis during the mid 1990’s, was willing to have his Hamas organization recognize Israel as long as the Palestinians were given a state of their own. Sela said during the interview that “if we (Israel) had tried for an agreement with Yassin, we would have succeeded”. He also said that Yasser Arafat, with whom Israel was trying to negotiate, was in reality very corrupt, and that Hamas could not deal with him at all.
In regards to a final settlement, Yassin was quoted as saying: “I have no interest in destroying you â€“ all I want is a state”.
Sela confessed his unhappiness that Israeli governments refuse to talk to Hamas leaders, saying that this is due to “the ego of our leaders”. During his two years of conversations with Yassin, Sela also had meetings with other imprisoned terrorists, including Samir Kuntar; who said he had not been responsible for the murders of Danny Haran and his daughter in Nahariya in the late 1970’s. Sela seems to paint a different picture of these people, whom many say return to terrorism immediately upon their release back to Gaza or Lebanon. In fact, Sela believes that long time terrorist internees, like Kuntar for instance, do not return to terrorism after being set free.
Return to active terrorism or not, these people certainly do not keep quiet about their feelings towards their former captors, as was seen from Yassin, before his assassination in 2004; and has been seen from Kuntar, who is being used as a symbol of resistance by another Sheikh, Hassan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah.
So are there some “good” terrorists and extremists, as far as Israel’s security is concerned? We’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions on this subject.
Yonit Levi is Channel 2’s anchor goddess.
She has been having a few bad days lately after some comments and gestures she made about the plight of the Palestinian population pissed off a bunch of viewers that write the talk backs on some of the news sites. In fact these hotheads went as far as putting up a petition online (now closed) calling for her dismissal and they got 35,000 signatures. Things got so bad that the people at the competing Channel 10 actually proclaimed their support and that they were standing behind her.
Apparently things got to the point that she was receiving some violent threats from a bunch of yahoos and a talk from her bosses asking her to tone down her alleged reactions. Now to be fair, Yonit Levi, is an extraordinary anchor woman. Aside from being a real hottie, she is a sharp, articulate, intelligent, very factual and professional anchor woman (you get we like her right?). She is sometimes called “The Ice Queen” for her cold, almost detached, professional approach. Personally, I think its wonderful and refreshing compared to some of the mindless, mushy twits we see on TV.
This war has received unprecedented support in Israel. Maybe as a result of the last war – that many felt was a slap in the face with the bumbling idiots that were running the show. Maybe its the fact that we had enough of turning the other cheek and getting shit on by a bunch of fundamentalist hate mongers. We feel like this is a just war and we won’t take any criticism for it.
In a post a while ago I discussed Fox News as an example of how low TV News Channels can take the news and the absurd of having to sell yourself as “Fair and Balanced” when that’s the last thing you ever will be. Yonit Levi is ACTUALLY fair and balanced and doesn’t need to sell it. She has been doing this for a long time and has been presenting the news in professional even tone, void of personal views and opinions.
In short, Yonit we love you ! Keep up the great work.
This is a cute viral video being sent around by people and offered by MemriTV.org. I guess you could say it provides a little background on the current dismemberment Hamas is going through…
This morning there is another humanitarian break. It starts at 9:00 AM and the southern cities are bracing for the missile attacks that will follow. As soon as these Humanitarian breaks take place the Hamas uses the opportunity to fire rockets.
The show “Eretz Nehedert” was on live last night after the news on channel 2. These shows are usually prerecorded but this one was live. It was highly critical of the management and future of the war. The message was that Barak was looking for political gain in the polls, the government has no clear objectives and the South is still being attacked.
The skit below is called “No Goals – No Disappointments”. There is no translation but you can see Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Barak who walks into the interview to answer questions from the soldiers.
During the skit Ehud Barak answers some questions from the soldiers with candid answers. He starts with the question – “So Now What?”.
He answers: We are now waiting for a cease fire. You (the army) will need to hang around in the field making you an easy target to Hamas. A couple of soldiers here will be killed (he points to 2 of them). Then we will sign a cease fire agreement, which when you read it, you will not understand why we couldn’t sign it 2 weeks ago.
“And that’s it – that’s how it ends?” he is asked. No, Barak answers, it doesn’t end, you will be called back to reserve duty, 2 years from now to serve here or some other place, all of you will report for duty minus the 2 fallen soldiers obviously. This time it might be the north, south or center of Israel. You will be called to help change the reality of some place – a place with a strange reality to start with.
Ismail Haniyeh was speaking yesterday and was calling basically for a cease fire. He looked bad. He said Hamas was ready for any initiative that will end the violence and for the first time he didn’t sound combative, made no threats and sounded like he wanted out of this war. In the Middle East that’s probably as close to surrender as we will ever get, although I am sure that by the time a cease fire is signed Hamas/Iran/Hezbollah will all be celebrating there victory over our coward army and hailing the legendary ass whipping we received.
As a response today we hear that the Security Ministers Council (Kitchenette) Olmert, Barak and Livni has decided to hold off stepping us to the next level of the war. The army was instructed to continue pressure on selective Hamas positions and that the Egyptian cease fire option was to be explored. (sounds familiar…)
Hamas has indicated they would be willing to have a Turkish force to enforce the cease fire. Different sources say they are only interested in a short term cease fire and that they will reject the Egyptian cease fire offer today. It looks like they are going through some shift in thinking though.
I am not sure how far we are supposed to go but the Eretz Nehedert episode was foretelling the future. When I saw it my first impression was that it was in poor taste. Even the live studio audience was holding back when Barak made reference to the “future” dead soldiers we will be incurring. But the truth is that its probably right on the money. Now it seems like it’s the right thing to ask Are we there yet?
The expected attack on the ground is on its way since yesterday evening. I think that many are thinking of the last time we were at war and the uncertainty and mistrust we had in the people leading us. There is a different feeling in Israel today. It’s been a long time coming.. We have had enough of the attacks and the constant pain of watching Israelis living in the south of Israel under a constant barrage of missiles.
I am writing and watching the attacks in real time and its insane. We advanced in technology, medicine and supposedly awareness and we are again dragged into this. The global financial stress is not enough, we need something extra to make things interesting.
I watched â€œFair and Balanced Fox Newsâ€ this morning. Itâ€™s amazing to me that a News channel like this can even exist in todayâ€™s world. Geraldo Rivera was talking to Hanan Ashrawi and I switched it off. Just hearing the introduction was enough. The world is coming to an end, Iran is threatening to join the war, Hezbollah is preparing to attack from the north and terror is at the door. Balanced my ass. The only thing that station sells is fear and bad energy!!
The people in the middle of all this are the people in the south of Israel and by far worse, the Palestinian families trying to move from the North of the Gaza Strip to the South â€“ just trying to get away from all this and literally running for their life. There are no words to describe the pain they must be going through.
On the other hand, choosing a Terror Organization like Hamas to be your leader is like going on an organized bus ride in the Rockies with a blind bus driver â€“ at some point you are going to hit something.
There is nothing fair about all this. We as a global society are measured by the weakest link and it seems like the more advanced and the further we reach, that weak link keeps getting weaker.
The Media war is on as well and the Arab world is getting behind Gaza in all its might. Understandable. What has been unique is the Israeli side in the media war, Arab speaking Israeli officers and foreign ministry personnel were interviewed, debated and heard on Arab media channels. We are adding here the live Gaza feed from Mako the Channel 2 News channel.
Itâ€™s been less then 24 hours and hopefully this will all be over soon. For the sake of everyone involved.
Just donâ€™t listen to Fox..