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« Reply #495 on: May 12, 2006, 10:01:44 PM »

Haniyeh: Plan implicitly accepting Israel important
By Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday that a proposal hammered out by Palestinian militants that would implicitly recognize Israel is important but needs deeper study.

The document is the result of a month of negotiations by militants in Israeli jails and it calls for a Palestinian state on the lands Israel captured in 1967: Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The plan, which has been accepted by the leadership of both organizations, is the first one signed by a senior Hamas official - Sheikh Abdel Halek Natshe of Hebron - that recognizes those borders.

"The Palestinian people, in the homeland and in the diaspora, aspires to liberate its land and realize its self-determination, including the establishment of an independent state on all the land occupied in 1967, and to assure the right of return for refugees and the liberation of all prisoners and detainees," reads the first section of the document.

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The implicit recognition of Israel would be a major change for Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, but it is unlikely to go far enough to satisfy Israel and Western nations, who cut off funds to the Palestinian government after Hamas won parliamentary elections in January.

"The document includes very important useful points that will contribute to remove some obstacles, but it needs more deep study," Haniyeh said, adding that the document would be among several presented to a conference of Palestinian factions later this month.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the document Thursday, calling it an "important plan" that constitutes a basis for future Palestinian policy. The accord calls on all the factions in the Palestinian parliament, starting with Hamas and Fatah, to establish a national unity government.

Meshal urges Hamas and Fatah to unite and fight Israel
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said Thursday that Hamas and Fatah should unite and fight Israel rather than fighting each other.

Speaking at the end of a two-day conference in Qatar, Meshal, who is based in Damascus, said Hamas could close ranks with Fatah on the platform of "liberating Palestine, not recognizing Israel and adopting the path of jihad [holy war] and resistance."

The conference - a gathering of Islamic scholars to discuss the Palestinian question - issued a final statement supporting "the right of the Palestinian people ... to wage holy war to regain all their homeland and liberate their land from the river to the sea."

The phrasing means that the conference does not recognize the right of Israel to exist - a position at variance with Fatah.

Meshal made no reference to the 18-point plan between Hamas and Fatah leaders imprisoned in Israel that was announced earlier Thursday, leaving observers with mixed messages about Hamas' position on the 1967 cease-fire lines.

Haniyeh: Plan implicitly accepting Israel important
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« Reply #496 on: May 12, 2006, 10:02:45 PM »

Hamas-led Palestinian Gov't May Accept Two-State Plan Recognizing Israel

Friday , May 12, 2006

RAMALLAH, West Bank  — The Hamas militant group, facing a crippling international boycott and unable to meet Palestinians' basic needs, is prepared to accept a plan that calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, a Hamas official said Friday — potentially a major concession implying recognition of Israel.

However, Hamas' top leaders have not yet responded to the plan. Even if Hamas accepts a two-state solution to the Mideast conflict, it's unlikely it would be able to secure a resumption of Western aid without an implicit recognition of Israel.

The plan was negotiated by top militants from Hamas and the rival Fatah group, who are held in an Israeli prison. The 18-point proposal will be the basis for upcoming talks between Hamas and Fatah, said the Hamas official who spoke on condition of anonymity because Hamas leaders have not yet gone public with their views.

Countrywatch: Israel

Since taking power in March, Hamas has sent conflicting signals about its willingness to accept the international community's conditions for doing business with it. The West has froze hundreds of millions of dollars in aid payments to the Palestinian Authority because Hamas has refused to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

In the West Bank, about 5,000 Hamas supporters rallied in the city of Nablus, donating money and jewelry to the cash-strapped Palestinian government. Organizers announced over megaphones how much participants were donating. Speakers criticized Western economic pressure on the Islamic militant group. "These donations are our way of telling the world that we can live without them, and our children are paying what the Europeans should be paying," said Bassam al-Shaqaa, a former mayor of Nablus.

The prisoners' draft agreement was negotiated over the past month by militants held in an Israeli prison, including Abdel Khaleq Natche, the top Hamas member held by Israel, and Marwan Barghouti, the senior Fatah prisoner.

The proposal calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state "in all the lands occupied in 1967," a reference to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

While the draft document signals an important turning point for Hamas, it includes key Palestinian demands that Israel rejects. These include affirmation of the right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to homes in what is now Israel and a complete withdrawal from all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The document also asserts that Palestinians have the right to attack Israelis in the West Bank, but that Israel itself should be off-limits for bombings and shootings.

Hamas leaders in Gaza and the West Bank have previously hinted they might abandon the group's call for the destruction of Israel, but Khaled Mashaal, the Syria-based leader of Hamas, has rejected any suggestion of moderation.

Attending a conference in Qatar on Thursday, Mashaal made no reference to the document. He called on Hamas and Fatah to end their infighting and adopt a platform of "liberating Palestine, not recognizing Israel and adopting the path of Jihad and resistance."

"I urge you in the name of God to save your blood and direct the weapons to the chests of the enemy," Mashaal said. "We are brothers. We may disagree politically, but we are not enemies."

Since Hamas defeated Fatah in Jan. 25 parliamentary elections, it has been in an increasingly contentious struggle with the moderate president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, for control of the government. The rivalry erupted in Gaza this week, with three gunmen killed and more than a dozen wounded in firefights.

Abbas said he backs the draft, which authorizes him to lead peace talks with Israel.

"This document is very important," Abbas said Thursday. "It includes a deep and realistic political vision that to a very large extent represents my point of view ... and thus I adopt it."

Abbas has repeatedly urged Hamas to soften its positions.

Western nations, which list Hamas as a terror group, cut off all funding to the Palestinian Authority, and the Israeli government froze its monthly transfer of $55 million it collects in taxes for the Palestinians.

The economic boycott has left the Palestinian government unable to pay salaries to its 165,000 workers, causing a deepening financial crisis throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

Concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation, Western donors agreed this week to resume some humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. But they said no aid will be sent to the Hamas government until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and accepts past peace agreements.

In other developments:

— An Israeli court charged four Palestinian militants in the 2001 assassination of Israeli Cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001. The men were charged, two months after troops snatched the men in a brazen military raid on a West Bank jail.

— A Palestinian militant was killed during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Nablus. The army said it shot the man, a member of the Fatah-linked Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, after militants opened fire at the troops.

— Two Palestinians, an Australian and a Dane were hurt during a protest against Israel's separation barrier near the West Bank village of Bilin, witnesses said. The four were hurt by rubber-coated steel pellets. The Israeli military said troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas after protesters tried to tear down barbed wire and threw rocks.

Hamas-led Palestinian Gov't May Accept Two-State Plan Recognizing Israel
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« Reply #497 on: May 14, 2006, 06:51:57 AM »

Nuke attack won't destroy Israel

Special report: Tel Aviv University history professor says ‘Ahmadinejad trying to replace Bin Laden, his great rival, as leading representative of extreme fanaticism.’ Adds: It is unclear whether Israel can withstand the death of a million people in an Iranian nuclear attack, but it would not be the end of the Jewish State. History of Science lecturer Yoav Ben-Dov: Israel’s fear of Iranian attack related first and foremost to Holocaust trauma
Eyal Ben

Aviad Kleinberg, head of the history department at Tel Aviv University, says it is unclear whether Israel can withstand the death of a million people in an Iranian nuclear attack, but “it would not be the end of the Jewish State.”

As to Prime Minster Ehud Olmert’s claim that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a “psychopath,” Kleinberg says “I’m not at all certain that he's insane. I’m afraid he’s playing a much more complex game; and this is a dangerous game. One cannot simply assume that Ahmadinejad is bluffing. In certain instances you don’t have a choice but to assume that the other side is not bluffing.”

Kleinberg contends that the cultural need for an enemy is mutual: “Just as Hollywood picks out its enemies –whether it’s the Soviet crime cartels, the Chinese, communists, Bin Laden or Iraq - an enemy allows you to allocate resources; unite the ranks.”

“On the other hand there is the threat itself. In some cases it is almost fictive in nature. If we take Bin Laden, he is an example of a relatively mild threat. His current capabilities to produce terror are rather limited. His image is much stronger due to various reasons. However, Iran is not Bin Laden, nor is it Iraq. Iran has the capability of creating genuine threats. It is a society with money and technological know-how – it can cause severe damage.”

Kleinberg continues: “Ahmadinejad is trying to lead the Muslim world. He is trying to replace Bin Laden, his great rival, as the leading representative of extreme fanaticism.”

What is behind Iran’s denial of the Holocaust?

“Denying the Holocaust is a kind of defiance; it is like the skinheads in Sweden who yell ‘Heil Hitler’ even though they do not really believe in Mein Kampf.

Yoav Ben-Dov of the Cohn Institute for the History of Science at Tel-Aviv University says “Israel’s fear of an Iranian attack is related first and foremost to the Holocaust trauma, although it’s obvious that the security establishment has an interest in focusing on the Iranian threat.”

“There is something very strong in Judaism that preserves the trauma, and this trauma related directly to the fear of another Holocaust,” he says.

Nuke attack won't destroy Israel
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« Reply #498 on: May 18, 2006, 01:47:19 AM »

Islamic Jihad: Israel will pay for Peretz's policies

Terror group leader Sheik Khaled el-Batsh says in response to IDF operation in Jenin ‘Peretz proved that he is no less of a preying hawk than his predecessor, and he too will be held accountable for his policies, which will result in the death of Israeli citizens in retaliatory attacks’; Hamas member: World must intervene to stop massacre
Ali Waked

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council told Ynet Sunday “just like his predecessor (Shaul Mofaz), (Defense Minister Amir) Peretz is proving that he is a criminal and a terrorist.”

Al-Masri referred to the IDF operation in Jenin, which is being carried out under Peretz’s orders as “a war crime.”

“The world must intervene to stop the massacre instead of stopping the transfer of aid to the Palestinian people,” he said.

Al-Masri said Peretz’s policy comes as no surprise to him: “We have seen those before him who spoke moderately when they were in the opposition and transformed into murderers and terrorists when they attained power.”

Islamic Jihad was also quick to slam Peretz for ordering the IDF operation.

“Peretz proved that he is no less of a preying hawk than his predecessor, and he too will be held accountable for his policies, which will result in the death of Israeli citizens in retaliatory attacks that the Palestinian resistance groups are sure to carry out in response to the crime in Jenin,” Jihad leader Sheik Khaled el-Batsh said.

Peretz, for his part, praised the IDF for a successful operation in Jenin, during which senior Islamic Jihad commander Elias Ashkar was killed.

"That's an important achievement against terror in Judea and Samaria, which took place as yet another Israel family was informed of the death of its son, Daniel Wultz, who was injured in an attack masterminded by Ashkar," Peretz said. "We will continue to fight terror intensively while trying to alleviate as much as possible on the Palestinian civilian population."

'No peacemakers in Israel'

El-Batsh continued by saying that “Peretz proved that in Israel there are no doves or hawks and that he wants to be even crueler than his predecessor.

“We (Islamic Jihad) have followed Peretz closely since he was named Labor chairman and until he entered the cabinet. I admit, we thought we could trust his early statements that he would act to end the occupation. He is a man who speaks a lot about peace and the need to end the occupation in order to end the cycle of violence, but apparently a wolf will always remain a wolf, and even if he becomes more moderate, he quickly resorts back to his predatory nature. Peretz proved he is no different than the criminal Mofaz. They both kill Palestinians.”

“I expected him to understand the interests of both sides and what the real path to bring security to Israelis is, which will not be achieved through killing Palestinians continuously. I estimated he would acknowledge the fact that Palestinians have rights, but it seems he is uninterested.

“Since he occupied the post we noticed a different attitude. He is following the path of his predecessor by giving orders to kill Palestinians. I tell him that be doing so he is not caring for the security of Israeli civilians but inviting responses by Palestinian groups, who will certainly claim a heavy price from Israeli civilians," he said.

El-Batsh added: "Peretz has proven that there are no peacemakers in Israel. There are no doves in Israel; all are wild hawks who know but kill and assassinate. He who does so will bear responsibility for the price."

'Peretz is irrelevant'

Sunday's operation in Jenin dimmed hopes among Palestinians that Peretz's socialist background will lead to a relative drop in IDF operations in the West Bank.

"We thought there is hope for a new situation; we thought the man with the socialist background, the man who spoke of the need for peace and dialogue, for common living, will endorse different patterns. We thought that his understanding of the economic and social price of the occupation and its influence on people's life in Israel will affect his policy; but today he made us understand that in Israel they are all the same. Peretz, like his predecessor, knows one thing: killing Palestinians and nothing else."

The spokesperson for the Palestinian Interior and National Security Ministry, Khaled Abu Hallal, said that IDF operations ordered soon after Peretz taking over the Defense Ministry prove that no minister can influence the security establishment and change things on the ground.

He added that the Palestinian have no hope that the situation in the territories will change with Amir Peretz.

"We understand well that decisions do not depend on Peretz, but more on real decisions taken by the Israeli government to change its policy. But it seems the Israeli government is not ready for this, and therefore we turn to the Israeli public who is yearning for peace and stability."

Israel will pay for Peretz's policies
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« Reply #499 on: May 18, 2006, 01:49:11 AM »

Israel, U.S. to start discussing convergence plan this week
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel and the United States will begin discussing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's "convergence plan" this week. The working assumption among senior Israeli officials is that the administration supports the plan and views it as "the only game in town."

Two major issues are on the agenda: the timeline for the plan and the nature of the support to be extended by the U.S. government.

Olmert leaves next week for his first White House visit as Israel's elected prime minister, during which he will present the convergence idea to President George W. Bush. Aides to Olmert, who flew out Saturday night to prepare for the visit, will meet with White House officials to decide on the manner in which the plan is to be presented at the meeting between the leaders, as well as the statements that will follow the meeting. These preliminary sessions were defined as a "coordination of expectations."

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The advance team consists of the prime minister's chief of staff, Yoram Turbowicz; special advisor Dov Weisglass; and foreign affairs adviser Shalom Turjeman. They are scheduled to meet at length Sunday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Steve Hadley.

The Israeli sources said that Olmert's visit will probably be followed by lower-profile talks over the details of the plan and of American support for it.

The administration wants Olmert to try to restart talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas before going ahead with any unilateral measures. According to the Israeli sources, both Israel and the U.S. know that any such efforts will get nowhere, but it is important to the Americans to show their international allies that Israel is trying to talk with the Palestinians. Another goal of such efforts is to maintain the PA chairman's status vis-a-vis the Hamas government.

Olmert has promised to make an effort to hold talks with the PA, on condition that its government meet the international community's demands of recognizing Israel, renouncing terror and violence, and honoring previous agreements between the PA and Israel. Olmert has said that if negotiations with the PA fail, then Israel will take its fate into its own hands with unilateral measures to evacuate West Bank settlements while expanding the settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim, the "Jerusalem envelope" and the Etzion Bloc.

Olmert intends to meet with Abbas, but only after completing a series of talks with the leaders of the U.S., Egypt, Jordan and the main European countries. He fears a situation in which talks with Abbas could translate into a suspension of international efforts to isolate the Hamas government.

Olmert criticized Defense Minister Amir Peretz during their meeting on Thursday for calling for negotiations with Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen.

"Why are you selling out?" Olmert asked Peretz. "You have to check it out first, you have to charge for it. Abu Mazen will also want a price for it, so the issue must be treated carefully and not lightly." Olmert let Peretz know that the decision must be made by the prime minister and not by any other minister, no matter how important.

Israel, U.S. to start discussing convergence plan this week
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« Reply #500 on: May 18, 2006, 10:09:26 AM »

Knesset member: Strike Iran now
Warns if U.S., others don't take action, Israel should act alone

JERUSALEM – Israel and the international community should consider carrying out strategic strikes now against Iran's nuclear facilities to stall its suspected uranium enrichment activities, Israeli Knesset member Effie Eitam told WND yesterday during an interview.

Eitam, chairman of the National Union Party and a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, warned Israel would need to attack Iran by itself if the international community led by the United States fails to successfully halt Tehran's nuclear program within about a year.

He blasted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's administration for "failing to devise a coherent strategy toward Iran" and urged Israel to immediately make public a doctrine of deterrence that would assure "total destruction" of Iran should it contemplate a first strike against the Jewish state.

"Iran is now at that kind of bottleneck junction where strategic sites that are known can be relatively easily and safely attacked with the goal of causing maximum delay," said Eitam. "Strikes now can stall the entire nuclear process by many years."

The Knesset member, a former Israeli Defense Forces general, said Israel may need to act alone against Iran.

"With or without a world coalition, Israel will have to take action at some point when we are fully sure Iran's nuclear project is coming to a point of no return," he said. " I am worried all mechanisms of diplomacy used by the Iranians in response to the international movement against it are to buy time as they camouflage the real nature of their programs."

Asked to offer a timeline for the point at which he feels Israel would have to strike Iran by itself, Eitam replied, "We are talking about the period when Iran would have enough uranium to build a bomb. The information indicates this is not long away. Six months to a year or not much more.

"It is clear Iran is already starting to enrich uranium, and they are nearing the completion of technology necessary to assemble weapons. It is true they may leave quantities of uranium unpacked and not processed as weapons-grade for a time, but they can soon bring themselves to the point where they can make weapons within short periods of time."

Iran is openly defying international calls to halt uranium enrichment activities. After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was inaugurated last August, the country rejected European proposals aimed at curbing its nuclear programs and resumed nuclear projects, reopening a major uranium conversion plant in Isfahan. In January, Iran escalated the international confrontation by removing U.N. seals at one of its uranium-enrichment plants and resuming nuclear research.

Eitam deemed Iran "an international problem – by far not just an Israeli problem. The Iran leadership threatens the entire free world. It is a source of evil and not just a typical enemy. This evil will not compromise. It is best if it is destroyed physically. If the world doesn't act by a certain point, then Israel must."

So far, Tehran has scorned most diplomatic initiatives. Yesterday, it rejected an EU proposal to cease uranium enrichment in exchange for economic incentives and the construction of a light-water energy reactor. Unlike the heavy-water plant Iran is building in the city of Arak, a light-water reactor wouldn't produce plutonium – another ingredient for weapons – as a waste product. Such a reactor would still need enriched uranium for fuel, though, which could be refined to weapons-grade material.

Eitam said military action is the best assurance against Iran's nuclear program.

"With diplomacy and agreements you can never be sure unless the diplomacy comes to a point where the Iranians agree to dismantle their nuclear projects under intense international supervision. This looks extremely unlikely after so many years of negligence [by the U.S., Israel and Europe]. There is no second to physical destruction of Iran's facilities," said Eitam.

Security analysts contend any Israeli or international strike against Iran would result in retaliatory attacks by Palestinian terror groups and by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which is stationed alongside Israel's northern border and boasts it has over 10,000 missiles pointed at the country's civilian population centers.

But Eitam, who predicted Iran would also retaliate against international interests, said Israel is prepared for the expected onslaught of violence.

"We are ready to defend ourselves against Hezbollah and are quite adept at dealing with terrorism," he said. "These Iranian threats are very cheap prices to pay relative to what an Iranian nuclear threat represents for the future of the state of Israel. The entire world may have some tough times while the Iranians try to retaliate by using terror internationally, hijacking embassies, targeting innocents like at nightclubs in Europe."

The Knesset member went on to blast Olmert and the current Israeli administration for what he said was "gross negligence" at failing to counter the Iranian threat.

"I am extremely skeptical as far as Olmert, [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz and [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni being able to revive and renew a credible Israeli policy toward Iran. So far they are paralyzed. They have no program. They are just waiting for a miracle or for someone else to act. In a very short time if Olmert fails to provide a new approach, the real question becomes whether he should continue to be allowed to govern."

Eitam recommended Israel make public a policy of deterrence he says would render an Iranian first strike against Israel useless.

"It is crucial to change Israel's current policy of vagueness to open deterrence. It needs to be made clear to the Iranians that Israel will not be the only country destroyed if it is attacked. Even if the Iranians have weapons, they wont enjoy any strategic advantage because Israeli deterrence will be clear and credible. They wont even think about destroying Israel because doing so will place them under the fear of being totally destroyed, too."

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« Reply #501 on: May 19, 2006, 03:19:48 PM »

Iran eyes badges for Jews
Law would require non-Muslim insignia

Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.

"There's no reason to believe they won't pass this," said Rabbi Hier. "It will certainly pass unless there's some sort of international outcry over this."

Bernie Farber, the chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was "stunned" by the measure. "We thought this had gone the way of the dodo bird, but clearly in Iran everything old and bad is new again," he said. "It's state-sponsored religious discrimination."

Ali Behroozian, an Iranian exile living in Toronto, said the law could come into force as early as next year.

It would make religious minorities immediately identifiable and allow Muslims to avoid contact with non-Muslims.

Mr. Behroozian said it will make life even more difficult for Iran's small pockets of Jewish, Christian and other religious minorities -- the country is overwhelmingly Shi'ite Muslim. "They have all been persecuted for a while, but these new dress rules are going to make things worse for them," he said.

The new law was drafted two years ago, but was stuck in the Iranian parliament until recently when it was revived at the behest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa refused to comment on the measures. "This is nothing to do with anything here," said a press secretary who identified himself as Mr. Gharmani.

"We are not here to answer such questions."

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has written to Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, protesting the Iranian law and calling on the international community to bring pressure on Iran to drop the measure.

"The world should not ignore this," said Rabbi Hier. "The world ignored Hitler for many years -- he was dismissed as a demagogue, they said he'd never come to power -- and we were all wrong."

Mr. Farber said Canada and other nations should take action to isolate Mr. Ahmadinejad in light of the new law, which he called "chilling," and his previous string of anti-Semitic statements.

"There are some very frightening parallels here," he said. "It's time to start considering how we're going to deal with this person."

Mr. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly described the Holocaust as a myth and earlier this year announced Iran would host a conference to re-examine the history of the Nazis' "Final Solution."

He has caused international outrage by publicly calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

Iran does not yet have nuclear weapons, but Tehran believed by Western nations to be developing its own nuclear military capability, in defiance of international protocols and peace treaties.

The United States, France and Israel accuse Iran of using a civilian nuclear program to secretly build a weapon. Iran denies this, saying its program is confined to generating electricity.
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« Reply #502 on: May 21, 2006, 12:59:02 AM »

US fumes as Iraq backs Israel boycott
MICHAEL FREUND, THE JERUSALEM POST    May. 18, 2006

The US-backed Iraqi government sent an official representative to this week's meeting of the Arab League Boycott Office in Damascus, The Jerusalem Post has learned, prompting criticism from members of Congress and the Bush administration.

Liaison officers from 14 countries met for four days this week to discuss ways of intensifying the Arab embargo against Israel. Among those taking part were delegates from several ostensible US allies, such as Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

Tom Casey, a spokesman for the US State Department, told the Post that Washington was unhappy with Baghdad's action.

"We are disappointed by the decision of the Iraqi government to attend this meeting, and will be noting our concerns with Iraqi officials," he said. "We have raised this issue with Iraqi officials in the past and expect to raise it with them again."

"The US position on the Arab League boycott is well known," Casey noted, adding that "perpetuation of the Arab League boycott does greatest harm to those who participate in it by hampering their efforts to develop their economies."

Members of Congress were also critical of the Iraqi move.

Rep. Paul Ryan, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told the Post that "the US government has been very successful in negotiating the cancellation of Israeli boycotts from many countries throughout the Arab world. This would appear to be a big step in the wrong direction on the part of the new Iraqi government."

Ryan, a Republican, said he expected Washington to bring the matter up with Baghdad. "We should make our position clear, just like we do with every other Arab government," he said.

Contacted by phone, a spokesman for the Iraqi embassy in London declined to comment.

According to figures released this week by the Israel Export Institute, there has been a 46 percent rise in Israeli sales to Iraq (valued at $320,000), with 27 exporters active in that market dealing primarily with the US military.

US fumes as Iraq backs Israel boycott
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« Reply #503 on: May 23, 2006, 09:32:04 PM »

Syria May Join Active 'Resistance' Against Israel
By Julie Stahl
CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief
May 22, 2006

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - A Syrian government minister has said that his country may have to resort to "resistance" - a euphemism for terrorism -- to regain control over the Golan Heights if the peace process with Israel is not revived soon.

The Israeli-Syrian peace process has been in the deep freeze since early 2000, when a U.S.-sponsored attempt to revive talks bottomed out after several months of negotiations.

Although the Israeli-Syrian border along the Golan Heights has been one of Israel's quietest for more than 30 years -- with almost no infiltration attempts or trouble -- Israel says Syria continues its attempt to undermine the Jewish state by backing the Lebanese-based terrorist group Hizballah and hosting the headquarters of Palestinian terror groups in Damascus.

In an interview that aired on Hizballah's Al-Manar television 12 days ago, Syrian Information Minister Muhsen Ballal said that if the peace process is not revived soon, Syrians would resort to "resistance" to liberate the Golan Heights.

"The liberation of the Golan is a comprehensive Arab-Syrian demand, made by 20 million Syrians, and the leadership must take this demand into consideration. The Golan must be returned to the motherland, and there is no alternative but to liberate the Golan," Muhsen said, according to a translation provided on Monday by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Muhsen indicated that the time for peace talks was running out.

"Until now, we have been waiting, and allowing a short period of time... We are allowing the peace process to have its last moment...If the peace process does not come back to life, if it is not resurrected once again, our people will have no alternative other than resistance in order to liberate and regain the land," Muhsen said.

In response, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the problem is with Damascus.

"Obviously, Israel wants peace with Syria," Regev said. "The trouble today is that the Syrian government appears uninterested in peace."

It lends active support to terror groups and allows extremist groups like Islamic Jihad to operate from its territory and has relations with Hizballah, "an extremely negative, anti-peace element," said Regev.

"If the regime in Damascus wants to be seen as a partner for peace, they should start acting like one," he said.

Israel (backed by the U.S.) has dismissed occasional Syrian "overtures" in the few years, saying that Syrian suggestions to renew the peace process are intended to deflect international pressure from Damascus.

Syria has been under pressure for years to withdraw troops that had been stationed in Lebanon for more than two decades. It finally withdrew its forces last year, following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Many Lebanese blame senior Syrian officials for involvement in the Hariri murder and the United Nations has threatened Syria with sanctions for failing to cooperate with the probe.

Unlike the Gaza Strip, which Israel turned over unilaterally to the Palestinians last summer, there is a broad Israeli consensus for holding on to the Golan Heights.

Israel captured the strategic plateau in the 1967 Six-Day War and recaptured it in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The Heights holds strategic advantage over a large part of northern Israel, including the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, from which Israel takes about 40 percent of its drinking water.

There are more than 18,000 Israelis living on the Golan Heights and about 17,000 Syrian Druze residents, who have been extended the rights and privileges of Israeli citizens and live peacefully there.

Syria May Join Active 'Resistance' Against Israel
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« Reply #504 on: June 02, 2006, 03:15:30 AM »

Islamic Jihad: We'll accept ‘two-state’ document

Palestinian terror group’s armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades, announces it would accept document of principles written up by Palestinian prisoners and initiated by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, which calls for establishing independent Palestinian nation on ’67 borders next to Israel
Ali Waked

The Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades, announced Thursday it would accept the document of principles written up by Palestinian prisoners and initiated by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, which called for establishing an independent Palestinian nation on the ’67 borders next to Israel.

In a surprising step, following lengthy consultation between commanders of the armed wing and the Islamic Jihad’s political leadership, al-Quds issued a statement in Jenin saying that “the factions fully trust the organization leaders jailed in Israel who signed the document. They are a brave leadership who fought and sacrificed all they have for the Palestinian people. We examined and learned the document and we don’t have any reservations about it, except those clauses which our imprisoned leaders had reservations over.” The as-Quds members were referring to the comments Islamic Jihad prisoners wrote on the document stating that they oppose in principle negotiations with Israel.

The most significant declarations in the armed wing’s statement are in reference to a cease fire: “We support and are committed to these instructions, even if they include a limited cease fire. If it wasn’t for the daily assassinations and arrests we would have announced a cease-fire for a month so that our leaders could examine the document of understandings and the possibility of implementing it as a temporary national project. We believe that the document includes the minimum which all the Palestinian factions agree on.”

In the statement, the al-Quds Brigades said it does support the shedding of blood, adding that, “everything we do is not done out of love for death or despair, but rather to improve life for our children and the Palestinian nation.”

When asked whether the acceptance of a two-state solution marks, in essence, an indirect recognition of Israel by Islamic Jihad, a senior organization member said “we are committed to the interests of the Palestinian people and to the Palestinian consensus. We have no intention of taking a position that would in any way cause harm to the Palestinian nation and its policy within the current international diplomatic reality.

'This is an internal Palestinian matter'

The statement also suggests that Islamic Jihad is solely responsible for all terror attacks carried out in Israel in the past year, or since a cease fire was declared by the Palestinian organizations in March 2005.

In addition, the statement also indicates a willingness on the part of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing to accept the document of principles in its entirety, including the agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel and the recognition of the PLO and past agreements with Israel.

A senior al-Quds Brigades member told Ynet, “we are prepared to implement the document, including a temporary lull in violence if the situation on the ground will permit us to do so, which means the acceptance of the document by the Palestinian organizations on the one hand and the cessation of Israeli violence against us and the Palestinian people on the other. Such a development may lead us to declare a cease fire.”

Israel, however, does not have high hopes for the ultimatum set by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ to Hamas.

“This is an internal Palestinian matter,” an Israeli government official said. “We prefer not to get involved in this directly.”

Islamic Jihad: We'll accept ‘two-state’ document
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« Reply #505 on: June 02, 2006, 11:08:27 PM »

Former Prime Minister Sharon opening eyes for several hours at a time: report
By Associated Press  June 1, 2006
 
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been comatose since suffering a massive stroke in January, has been opening his eyes for several hours at a time, according to a report published Wednesday in the Yediot Ahronot daily.

Sharon, 78, was moved Sunday from Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital to a long-term care facility at Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Center.

According to the report, family friends said Sharon opens his eyes for one to three hours at a time. Apparently he does not move his eyeballs and stares vacantly ahead.

A spokeswoman for Sheba refused to confirm the report.

Experts have said that patients in a comatose state often open their eyes, and it does not indicate any level of consciousness.

Israeli media reported that Sheba will try to take Sharon off a respirator and make other efforts to improve his condition.

Sharon underwent extensive brain surgery after massive bleeding in his brain Jan. 4. He has had several operations since then.

Sharon was at the height of his political powers when he was felled by the stroke. He had created a new political party, Kadima, which held a commanding lead heading into March 28 elections.

His closest political ally, Ehud Olmert, replaced Sharon as prime minister and Kadima head. Olmert led the party to victory in the election, but it received fewer seats in the party than Sharon had been expected to win.

Former Prime Minister Sharon opening eyes for several hours at a time: report
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« Reply #506 on: June 04, 2006, 02:02:03 AM »

Fatah deploys new militia in West Bank
Posted 6/3/2006 11:22 AM ET
JENIN, West Bank (AP) — The moderate Fatah movement deployed a new militia in a West Bank town on Saturday in a show of force against the militantly anti-Israel Hamas government.

The new unit, which Fatah officials said numbers 2,500, is the group's answer to a 3,000-strong Hamas militia that the government deployed last month over the objection of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

The presence of the new Fatah militia, on top of the official security branches that the movement already dominated, ratcheted up tensions between Fatah and Hamas. The strains between the two main Palestinian factions have already erupted in deadly violence and raised the specter of civil war.

"It is unacceptable for any faction to field a militia in support of the security apparatus," Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer of Hamas told a news conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Shaer said the government would resolve the dispute through dialogue with Fatah.

Control over security forces is a key element in the increasingly venomous power struggle between Abbas, who was elected separately last year and hopes to restart peace talks with Israel, and Hamas, whose violent ideology has brought crippling international economic sanctions against the Palestinian government.

Hamas, ignoring a presidential veto, activated its new force in mid-May after Abbas took charge of all of the Palestinian security branches.

Abbas is also pressuring Hamas to accept the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and says he plans to go ahead with a national referendum on the issue if Hamas balks.

More than 2,000 members of the new Fatah unit gathered in the town of Jenin Saturday morning wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with "Special Protection Unit" on the back, and a photo of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the front. Some 60 to 70 were armed with assault rifles, and several dozen carried pistols.

A Fatah leader in Jenin, Ata Abu Rmeileh, said the aim of the force was to back the official Palestinian security branches.

"You are here to protect your people and the Palestinian Authority institutions," Abu Rmeileh exhorted the force over a loudspeaker at the local high school where they gathered. "We are loyal to our people, not like those who have sold themselves to Arab and non-Arab capitals," he said in a thinly veiled reference to Hamas, which is supported by Syria and Iran.

The new fighters raised their arms in a salute and shouted "Fatah, Fatah!" The force then split into 23 groups that paraded through the streets.

The deployment of the militia on Saturday was intended to drive home the message that unless Hamas disbands its new force, Fatah will create parallel units across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Fatah officials said.

On Saturday, Nabil Amr, an adviser to Abbas, reiterated that the president would not travel to Gaza unless Hamas dissolved its recently deployed militia.

Shaer told a news conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah that the members of the Hamas militia had been integrated into the official police force, and were not operating as a separate unit. But that will not necessarily appease Abbas, who has said he wants the militiamen off the streets.

Fatah deployed its new militia just hours after a senior member of Hamas' military wing was shot in the chest in a drive-by shooting.

Hamas did not directly blame anyone for the attack on Abdel Hadi Siyam, 35, early Saturday. But officials said Palestinian security forces fired at him in the same Gaza City neighborhood two months ago.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek said Saturday the government would pay one month's salary on Monday to 40,000 low-income civil servants.

Advances that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh promised to the remaining 125,000 will be paid later because the government does not have money to pay them now, he said.

International sanctions have kept the new government from paying welfare allowances and salaries to 165,000 civil servants over the past three months, prompting protests and some violence.

About 300 protested in Ramallah on Saturday against withheld welfare payments, some setting tires on fire.

Fatah deploys new militia in West Bank
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« Reply #507 on: June 20, 2006, 01:53:03 AM »

Eyeing Iran, Israel seeks cruise missiles-sources
Tue 23 May 2006 5:39 PM ET


(adds Israel reporting Iranian missile test, paragraphs 12&13)

By Dan Williams

TEL AVIV, May 23 (Reuters) - Israel has speeded up efforts to develop long-range cruise missiles of a type that could be used should the Jewish state try to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities, security sources said on Tuesday.

Israel sent warplanes to destroy Iraq's main atomic reactor at Osiraq in 1981 and has not ruled out similar action to prevent its arch-foe from getting the bomb should U.S.-led diplomatic pressure on Tehran fail.

The greater ranges to Iran's nuclear facilities might make cruise missiles more practical than planes, but the United States has rebuffed past Israeli requests to buy them.

Cruise missiles are programmed to seek out and hit distant targets, flying low to avoid radar. But only the United States and Russia are known to have mastered all aspects of production.

"A top priority has been put on developing this technology, in light of the Iran situation, as well as improving the Arrow," an Israeli security source said, referring to the anti-missile defence system designed by state-run Israel Aircraft Industries.

Jane's Defence Weekly said in 2004 that Israel Military Industries had fielded the country's first cruise missile, but its range was only around 300 km (190 miles).

There have also been media reports that government arms manufacturer Rafael created at least a prototype cruise missile by attaching a jet booster to its medium-range Popeye missile.

Israel asked Washington to sell it Tomahawk cruise missiles in 2000, during peace talks with Syria. Israel argued that it would need Tomahawks to make up for the loss of "strategic depth" were it to return the occupied Golan Heights to Syria.

The request went unmet. Defence experts saw U.S. reluctance to stir up jitters among Israel's rivals in the Middle East.

"The United States would not want to export such a capable weapon at such sensitive times," said Jane's analyst Robert Hewson, noting that Tomahawks can carry nuclear warheads. Israel is believed to have the region's only atomic arsenal.



WASHINGTON TALKS

Iran is high on the agenda for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on his current first visit to Washington. An Olmert confidant predicted that after a White House summit on Tuesday, Israel would renew its request for Tomahawks.

An Israeli security source said Iran had carried out a test on a long range missile on Tuesday, the first since January. The source said the exact range was not known but the test did not appear to represent any technological advancement.

Western nations have been watching developments in Iran's missile capabilities with concern. Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment on the reported test.

Israel might argue that Olmert's plan to give up parts of the occupied West Bank, with or without a peace deal with the Palestinians, would cost Israel strategic depth that would need to be balanced with better weapons.

"It (Tomahawk) was requested in the past. I believe it will be requested again, especially in light of the kind of threats Israel is facing in the future," the Olmert confidant said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country seeks nuclear energy only, but has raised worries in the West by calling for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map".

Some Israeli missile specialists have voiced scepticism about the usefulness of Tomahawks against Iranian nuclear facilities that are much better fortified than Osiraq was.

Israeli defence analyst Alon Ben-David suggested the United States might end up supplying the Tomahawks in order to scotch Israel's rival cruise missile programme.

"If the Americans discover that Israel is close to a credible cruise-missile capability, I expect they will be quick to curb it by finally coming up with the Tomahawks," he said.

Tomahawks are guided by a coded global positioning system network controlled by the Pentagon, meaning any Israeli launch would have to be approved by Washington.

Eyeing Iran, Israel seeks cruise missiles-sources
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« Reply #508 on: June 20, 2006, 01:55:26 AM »

Israeli council meets for first time, discuss Iran

Monday, June 19, 2006 - ©2005 IranMania.com
 
Archived Picture - A new Israeli council made up of former prime ministers met Monday for the first time to discuss arch-enemy Iran and its nuclear programme, an official said, according to AFP.Raanan Gissin, advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said earlier only that the council would meet on Monday for the first time at the cabinet office.

LONDON, June 19 (IranMania) - A new Israeli council made up of former prime ministers met Monday for the first time to discuss arch-enemy Iran and its nuclear programme, an official said, according to AFP.

No statement was released after the discussions and participants agreed not to divulge the contents of their talks, public radio reported.

Raanan Gissin, advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said earlier only that the council would meet on Monday for the first time at the cabinet office.

"The threats posed by the Iranian nuclear programme are an important strategic problem that transcends ... political parties and can benefit from the experience of former heads of government," he said.

Gissin said the council had been set up following a suggestion from the chairman of the right-wing Likud party and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Olmert, Netanyahu, Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres, who is a deputy prime minister in the present government, and Ehud Barak, a member of the coalition partner Labour, were lined up for the meeting.

According to Israel's top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily, Netanyahu last week discussed the Iranian nuclear issue at length with US Vice President Dick Cheney.

The two countries have spearheaded demands for Iran to allay fears its civil nuclear programme is a front for making nuclear weapons, and are determined to prevent Tehran from acquiring the bomb.

Israel is considered the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons, although it has never confirmed or denied it holds such an arsenal.

Israeli council meets for first time, discuss Iran
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« Reply #509 on: June 22, 2006, 01:18:04 AM »

HIZBULLAH RETURNS TO OUTPOSTS OPPOSITE ISRAEL

TEL AVIV [MENL] -- Hizbullah has returned to its military outposts along the Israeli border.

Israeli military sources said Hizbullah has completed the refurbishing of more than a dozen military outposts along the Israeli border. They said Hizbullah brought reconnaissance equipment operated by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"We're back to square one," a military source said.

The sources said IRGC advisers have been seen participating in Hizbullah patrols along the Israeli border. They said this was the largest contingent of Iranian military personnel detected along the Israeli border.

HIZBULLAH RETURNS TO OUTPOSTS OPPOSITE ISRAEL
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