WEEK OF FEBRUARY 22 THROUGH FEBRUARY 28
Palestinians Take US money, but Hate America
Feb. 27….(Israel Today) The results of a poll conducted by World Public Opinion and published this week show that among Arab and Muslim countries, the Palestinians hate the United States more than any other. That hatred is born of farfetched assumptions of the US and its foreign policies that are fed by local Middle East media. For examples, nearly 90 percent of Palestinian Arabs believe spreading Christianity in the Middle East is an official US foreign policy goal, and that Washington's ultimate aim is to seize control of all Middle East oil resources. Forty-nine percent said they believe the US purposely tries to humiliate the Muslim world. And despite being the recipients of massive amounts of US foreign aid, the Palestinians more than any other group said they support terrorist groups that target Americans. Sixty-seven percent of Palestinian respondents said they support either all or some of the anti-America Islamic terrorist organizations active today. The number of Palestinians thirsty for American blood jumped to 90 percent when asked if they approved of attacks on US troops in Iraq.
FOJ Note: In light of the fact that the Palestinians hate America so much, why are we forcing our best friend and ally to give away their own land to create a state for them, and why are we yearly sending them hundreds of millions of dollars, only to witness their hatred being increased?
Amnesty Int’l Calls for US Arms Embargo Against Israel
Feb. 27….(Newsmax) Amnesty International has called on the Obama administration to immediately suspend weapons sales to Israel after the human rights organization said it found that most of the weapons Israel used in the Gaza Strip were manufactured in the United States. “To a large extent, Israel's military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers’ money,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East. “The Obama administration should immediately suspend US military aid to Israel.” Israeli officials say the report robs Israel of its right to self-defense. The group accused Israel of war crimes in its 38-page report, focusing heavily on Israeli actions and American weapons used in the Gaza Strip. Amnesty researchers say they found that weapons fragments in school playgrounds, hospitals and in homes were mostly made in America, the report said. In a statement, Israel's Foreign Ministry slammed the report calling it a biased version of events. The report neglected to mention Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields, the statement said. “Hamas openly and in an organized fashion uses women and children to protect military targets, and booby-trap homes and public buildings,” the foreign ministry said. “The IDF never intentionally targeted civilians.” Hamas’ weapons are funded by Tehran and other Arab regimes, are illegally supplied through tunnels connecting the Strip to Egypt. NGO Monitor, a watchdog group of non-governmental organization, said, “Amnesty’s attempt to equate the transfer weapons to Israel for legitimate defense, with clandestinely smuggled arms to a terrorist organization, is defamatory, immoral and absurd.” NGO Monitor Director Gerald Steinberg said the report was “clearly part of a campaign to deprive Israel of the means to defend itself.” But the report could gain traction in the US After a visit to the region last week, Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., said he planned to recommend the US reassess its military support for the Jewish state. Baird, who visited Gaza with Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said he was troubled by the American origin of Israeli weaponry. “We need to use every pressure available to make these needed changes happen,” he said. “If our colleagues had seen what we have seen, I think their understanding of the situation would be significantly impacted. They would care about what happened to the Palestinians.” Danny Reisner, a legal advisor to the Israel Defense Forces, countered accusations that Israel committed war crimes and noted that Israel suspended the war every day to allow humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza. “People are complaining that war crimes are being committed, and I agree,” he said. “War crimes are being committed by Hamas. The Amnesty report questioned a 10-year agreement ending in 2017 in which the US would provide $30 billion in military aid to Israel. Israeli defense officials said they were concerned, especially ahead of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell’s arrival in Israel today, that President Barack Obama will cut military aid to Israel. “Mitchell is a known opponent of the outposts and the settlements,” a senior defense official told The Jerusalem Post. “The Americans may try to use the military aid as a way of pressuring the new government into dismantling outposts and freezing construction in settlements.”
PA Officials Reiterate Warning of Renewed 'Armed Struggle' (Terrorism)
Feb. 27….(IsraelNN.com) A Palestinian Authority official reiterated on Wednesday the oft-repeated threat that Fatah will "return" to armed attacks against Israel if negotiations do not produce the results the movement wants. Addressing a pro-Fatah rally of more than 100,000 people in the Samaria city of Shechem (Nablus), the PA Mayor Jamal Muhsein threatened: "Whoever thinks that negotiations are the only choice for Fatah is wrong. On the all options are open, including armed struggle, as long as we seek peace and others do not. Jerusalem is the gate to peace as well as the gate to war." Another high-ranking local representative of Fatah, which is headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told the crowd that his organization is "renewing its pledge to the PLO as it had done before." Regarding reconciliation talks with the Hamas organization underway in Egypt at this time, the Fatah official said that his movement "seeks dialogue and real reconciliation," but first Hamas had to "give the Gaza Strip back to legitimate Palestinian [authority]." Clarifying his view of the relations between the two movements, he added, "We are ready for Hamas to join the PLO, not for the PLO to join Hamas."
Abbas Also Threatened 'Return to Armed Struggle'
The threat that the PA would "return" to the option of armed struggle is far from a new one. It has been made regularly, at least once a year, since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. One year ago, almost to the day, in a February 27 interview with Jordan's Al-Dustour newspaper, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying, "At present, I am against an armed struggle against Israel because we can't do it, but in the coming stages, things may change. I do not rule out a return to the way of armed struggle (terrorism) against Israel." This is in line with the Fatah Constitution, which states (Article 19): "Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated."
Obama Administration Ready To Sacrifice Israel
Feb. 26….(In The News) The Obama administration’s decision to join the planning of the UN’s Durban II “anti-racism” conference has just taken a new twist: cover-up. On Friday, State Department officials and a member of the American Durban II delegation claimed the United States had worked actively to oppose efforts to brand Israel as racist in the committee drafting a Durban II declaration. The trouble is that they didn’t. The Feb. 20 State Department press release says the US delegation in Geneva “outlined our concerns with the current outcome document” and in particular “our strong reservations about the direction of the conference, as the draft document singles out Israel for criticism.” One member of the delegation told The Washington Post: “The administration is pushing back against efforts to brand Israel as racist in this conference.” In fact, tucked away in a Geneva hall with few observers, the US had done just the opposite. The US delegates at Obama’s directive made no objection to a new proposal to nail Israel in an anti-racism manifesto that makes no other country-specific claims. Getting involved in activities intended to implement the 2001 Durban Declaration–after seven and a half years of refusing to lend the anti-Israel agenda any credibility–was controversial to be sure. But late on Saturday Feb. 14, the State Department slithered out a press release justifying the move. It claimed that “the intent of our participation is to work to try to change the direction in which the Review Conference is heading.” Following what was clearly a planned public relations exercise, Washington Post columnist Colum Lynch championed the US bravado in an article based on the story orchestrated by the American delegates. In his Feb. 20 article entitled: “US Holds Firm on Reparations, Israel in UN Racism Talks,” he fawned: “The Obama administration on Thursday concluded its first round of politically charged UN negotiations on racism, pressing foreign governments to desist from singling out Israel for criticism in a draft declaration to be presented at a UN conference in April.” The reality, however, was nothing of the sort. Instead, Obama’s Durban II team slipped easily into the UN’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish environs, taking the approach that “fitting in” was best accomplished by staying silent. On Tuesday, the Palestinian delegation proposed inserting a new paragraph under the heading “Identification of further concrete measures and initiatives for combating and eliminating all manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” with the subtitle “General provisions on victims of discrimination.” The paragraph includes: “Calls for the international protection of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.” In other words, it claims that the Palestinian people are victims of Israeli racism and demands that all UN states provide protection from the affronts of the racist Jewish State.
Obama to Pour $1 Billion into Gaza Rebuilding
Feb. 25….(JNEWSWIRE) The government of US President Barack Obama is preparing to donate more than $900 million dollars to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, according to a senior US official cited by the Associated Press. The Gaza Strip sustained heavy damage during a three-week war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization that ran from late-December till mid-January. The Obama Administration's approach to Gaza is opposite that of the Bush Administration, which refused to give money to a Gaza Strip that elected and is ruled by Hamas terrorist organization. Arabs in the Gaza Strip who have suffered as a result of their people's terrorism against Israel heard Monday that they are to receive almost a billion dollars in aid from the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is planning her first trip to the Middle East in her new capacity next week, will reportedly announce the package at a donor's meeting scheduled to take place in Cairo. The money, purportedly designated to strengthen the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority which is being challenged by Hamas, is to be channeled through the United Nations, the international organization that avidly supports and facilitates the goals of Israel's enemies. An unnamed American official was quoted as saying that none of the money will find its way into Hamas' coffers, but a Fox News reporter in Israel scoffed at the notion, stressing that Hamas fully controls Gaza and nothing can get into the Strip without the terror group's being involved. "Anyone who believes otherwise is only deluding himself," Fox said. Meanwhile, as Clinton earmarks 900 million American dollars for the Arab side, other US lawmakers plan to push for a restriction in aid to Israel. Democratic Congressman Brian Baird called Tuesday for Washington to squeeze Israel to open the borders into Gaza and reassess its military support for the Jewish state, according to The Jerusalem Post. Baird, who visited Gaza last week, said he was shocked by "the level of destruction, the scope of it, specifically the civilian targets, schools, hospitals, industry." Israel had "apparently willfully destroyed any capacity of the Palestinians to rebuild their own infrastructure," he added.
Livni Blocks Unity Government Over Palestinian Statehood
(Meanwhile Hamas and Fatah work on Unity)
Feb. 25….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report and Analysis) DEBKAfile's military sources report that Sunday, Feb. 22, the Palestinian Authority on orders from chairman Mahmoud Abbas began releasing Hamas terrorists detained as part of his commitment to join forces with Israel to combat Palestinian terror. Abbas did not consult Israel before freeing the first batch of 21 prisoners. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas began releasing activists of Abbas' Fatah. Our sources reveal that, under pressure from Washington, prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni agreed to their transfer to the West Bank, where they took part in a conference of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's executive committee last Saturday. DEBKAfile's military sources warn that the reopening of the covert corridor to terrorist traffic between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is a recipe for the revival of Palestinian attacks against central Israel, Hamas' long-held goal. While Israel's unity talks stumble forward, the rival Palestinian Fatah and Hamas are on a fast-moving secret track towards a power-sharing accord. It is Abbas' intention to unveil his Palestinian unity administration simultaneously with the presentation of Binyamin Netanyahu's broad national government. By this means, he expects to maneuver the Americans into non-cooperation with Israel unless its new government swallows the Hamas component of a legitimate Palestinian government. Hamas, for its part, is making hay. Not only are the Islamist fundamentalists not asked to meet international demands and give up their avowed aim to destroy Israel, they have cornered Abbas by requiring him to give up his security partnership with the United States and Israel. He has responded with a directive to Fatah negotiators to promise that their joint regime will in time edge out of this partnership. The undercover Palestinian moves climax Wednesday, Feb. 25 at a formal Palestinian reconciliation conference in Cairo chaired by Egypt's intelligence minister and senior Palestinian negotiator Gen. Omar Suleiman. Cairo has reopened Gaza's Rafah gateway for three days as a gesture to Hamas. Abbas is therefore moving along his own underhand track unrelated to the Palestinian pretext Kadima's Livni is using to opt out of Netanyahu's coalition government. She wants him to commit to the two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict as his government's top priority. Netanyahu argues that the Olmert-Livni talks with Abbas over many months got nowhere, while the perils posed by Iran and its advance on Israel's borders are immediate and existential. Some of Livni's key associates in Kadima have launched their own freelance approach to Abbas. It aims at discrediting the Netanyahu administration from the moment he presents his lineup to the president. At that moment, on their advice, Palestinian Authority leaders will announce the break-off of contacts with Israel until the new Israeli prime minister publicly states his commitment to a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel and a halt to settlement expansion. Livni's close circle is thus hoping to use the Palestinians as a blunderbuss to beat the Netanyahu government into accepting Kadima's point of view or face international condemnation.
EU Worried About Netanyahu
(Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu may still be a long way from forming a government coalition, but some European leaders and many influential voices in the Arab world are already full of gloom-and-doom predictions.)
Feb. 25….(INN) The EU's 27 foreign ministers met in Brussels Monday, and the Middle East diplomatic process and prospects of a Netanyahu government figured large in the discussions. There is concern in Europe that a narrow right-wing government headed by Netanyahu may seek to scuttle a two-state vision, but Franco Frattini, Italy's foreign minister, said, it was "not possible" for Netanyahu to ditch the idea of giving the Palestinians their own state. Several European Union officials expressed apprehension on Monday as Likud Chairman Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu worked to form a coalition. Netanyahu could be less likely than his predecessor, Kadima head Ehud Olmert, to reach a deal including the creation of a Palestinian Authority state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, they said. "We could have a rough start,” warned Czech Vice-Premier Alexandr Vondra, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency. “We need to move forward on the Israel-PA peace process,” he added. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bilt accused Netanyahu of undermining negotiations already, saying Netanyahu's conditions for those seeking to join his coalition “are clearly incompatible with existing commitments of the peace process.” "It is very important to send a strong signal that this is not going to be acceptable,” Bilt added, in a warning to EU leaders. Solana joined his colleagues in pushing for progress in Israel's negotiations with the PA, saying, “the time for concentrating only on crisis management is over, we have to do the conflict resolution as soon as possible.” The outgoing Kadima-led government held negotiations with the PA for more than a year, beginning in late 2007. The content of the talks was secret. Netanyahu has attempted to convince Kadima's new head, Tzipi Livni, to join him in forming a centrist unity government, but Livni has rejected his offers, as has Labor head Ehud Barak. Netanyahu still has the option of creating a strongly right-wing government in cooperation with religious and nationalist parties. Former ambassador to the US Zalman Shoval, who serves as a foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu, said he recalled the same mistrust of Menachem Begin in Europe when he became prime minister in 1977, but European leaders realized they had misjudged him when he made peace with Egypt. He predicted that the same would happen to Netanyahu on his second tour of duty. "I would have preferred if the 27 EU foreign ministers had dealt with more pressing problems like the nuclearization of Iran, but I guess their priorities are different," Shoval said. "It is ludicrous to talk about restarting a peace process that never got off the ground," he added.
Israeli Ambassador Calls for 'Serious Action' Following Iran Nuke Report
(The White House also says the international community must work together to address Iran's uranium enrichment activities, after a United Nations report showed Iran has enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb.)
Feb. 23….(Fox News Politics) Israel's ambassador to the US called for "immediate and serious action" Friday after a United Nations report showed Iran has enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb. The White House also said the international community must work together to address Iran's uranium enrichment activities, calling the rogue nation's nuclear capabilities an "urgent problem." Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor, in an interview with FOXNews.com, said the report only emphasizes the threat Iran poses to the rest of the world. "It's an extremely worrisome report. It emphasizes that with every day passing, Iran is getting closer to a nuclear military capacity," he said. "The world must take immediate and serious action in order to prevent this nightmare from happening." He did not detail what those actions could entail, but said, for example, "Sanctions should be enhanced significantly." "The only option that is not on the table is to allow Iran to get military nuclear (capabilities)," Meridor said. He said such a scenario would release a "nuclear genie" that would "endanger every society in the world." "We are at a very, very serious and dangerous juncture to world peace," he told FOXNews.com. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the report, by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, represented "another lost opportunity" for Iran as it continues to "renege" on its international obligations. Gibbs called Iran an "urgent problem that has to be addressed." He says "we can't delay addressing it." He said the international community can't have confidence in Iran's claims that the program is peaceful, and for producing energy, if it doesn't comply with the UN Meanwhile, both US and Israeli officials said they were optimistic about the prospects for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, even though hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu was just tapped to put together Israel's next ruling coalition. A coalition of right-wingers, if formed, could collide with the Obama administration and its ambitious plans for ending 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said Friday that the US will work with the next Israeli government however it is composed. "We are always optimistic. We've been working on the peace process for a number of years," he said. "I think this shows determination by the United States to continue to work for a two-state solution in the Middle East and to help bring stability to the region." Meridor said the desire for peace is unchanged, though any agreement must not compromise the security of Israel.
Hillary Pleads With China: Please Buy Our Debt
Feb. 23….(Newsmax) US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wants China to continue investing in the United States because the two countries' financial futures are closely tied together. "I certainly do think that the Chinese government and central bank are making a smart decision by continuing to invest in Treasury bonds," she said during an interview Sunday with the popular talk show "One on One." "It's a safe investment. The United States has a well-deserved financial reputation." To boost the economy, the US has to incur more debt, she said, shortly before departing for Washington. "It would not be in China's interest if we were unable to get our economy moving," Clinton said. "So by continuing to support American Treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. We are truly going to rise or fall together. We are in the same boat and, thankfully, we are rowing in the same direction. "Our economies are so intertwined, the Chinese know that to start exporting again to their biggest market, namely the United States, the United States has to take some very drastic measures with this stimulus package, which means we have to incur more debt." With the export-heavy Chinese economy reeling from the US downturn, Clinton has sought in meetings with President Hu Jintao, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Premier Wen Jiabao to reassure Beijing that its massive holdings of US Treasury notes and other government debt would remain a solid investment. Yang responded that China wants to see its foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest at $1.95 trillion, invested safely and to continue working with the United States. During her trip to Beijing, Clinton's emphasis on the global economy, climate change and security were meant to highlight the growing importance of US, China relations, which have often frayed over disagreements on human rights. Authorities in Beijing face a year of sensitive anniversaries, 20 years since the crushing of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement and 50 years since the failed Tibetan uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile
Arab World Warns of 'Government of War'
Feb. 23….(YNET) The Palestinians and Arab countries fear the establishment of an Israeli government which will not include the Kadima party, senior Palestinian Authority officials told Ynet on Sunday after discussing the matter with many sources in the Arab world. Arab newspapers are also warning of Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu "government of war", which will not put the peace process at the top of its priorities. According to the source, the Arab world understands that a right-wing government means diplomatic paralysis, and this may bring an end to the Arab peace initiative and increase the chances for another wave of violence in the region. The sources said that the Jordanians' main fear is that an escalation in the diplomatic and security-related situation will increase the flow of Palestinians to the kingdom. The Jordanian palace has recently toughened its policy in regards to the passage of Palestinians into Jordan, and in light of a right-wing government which may lead to a diplomatic deadlock and destabilize the situation in the West Bank, Amman fears that the Palestinians will increase their pressure to raise the quota of entry permits. Tensions are also high on Israel’s southern border. According to Palestinian sources, Egypt understands that a government which would only include Kadima will not be able to do much, while a rightist government will not do a thing on the diplomatic level and will only complicate the situation. Therefore, the desired formula is a government in which Kadima will play a key role. "The Egyptians don’t want to think about a government which Kadima or the Labor Party will not take part in. They view a government without Kadima and Labor as a sure recipe for trouble. In any event, the region is closely following the coalition negotiations in Israel. Shortly after President Shimon Peres tasked the Likud chairman with forming the new government, the Arab world has already begun voicing its well known opinion about such a government. The paper went on to warn against Netanyahu's promises "to crush the Hamas movement, destroy Iran’s nuclear program and Hezbollah," plans which are supported by the right-wing parties. "The drumming on the drums of war against Iran may be the main problem at the top of the next Netanyahu government's list of priorities, and therefore we should expect 'small wars' which may precede this primary war, such as a the launching of a new aggression against the Gaza Strip with the hopes of achieving what the latest war failed to accomplish. In other words, destroying Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance factions."
Alan Keyes: Stop Obama or US Will Cease to Exist(Claims 'communist usurper' is plunging country into chaos)
Feb. 23….(WND) Alan Keyes, a 2008 presidential candidate who is also a plaintiff in one of the many lawsuits challenging Barack Obama's constitutional eligibility to occupy the Oval Office, charged at a pro-life rally that unless Obama's social and economic policies are stopped, the United States as we know it is over. Keyes' comments were part of an interview with a reporter from KHAS-TV at a fundraiser for the AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center in Hastings, Neb. "Obama is a radical communist, and I think it is becoming clear. That is what I told people in Illinois and now everybody realizes it's true," said Keyes, who ran unsuccessfully against Obama for the state's open Senate seat in 2004. "He is going to destroy this country, and we are either going to stop him or the United States of America is going to cease to exist." Keyes also reasserted his belief that unless the question of Obama's eligibility to serve as president is answered definitively, America is facing the startling crisis of an executive branch run by a "usurper."
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 15 THROUGH FEBRUARY 21
Turky (Gomer in Prophecy) Now Siding With Syria-Iran-Russian Axis
(Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. Ezekiel 38:6)
Feb. 20….(In The Days) Closed meetings held after the main conference sessions focused on the creation of a “third jihadist front” against Israel, the first two being Iraq and Afghanistan, in the view of the conference delegates. The gathering was addressed by Muhammad Nazzal, a top Hamas official from Damascus. In an echo of the attempts by Islamists across the Middle East to pressure Egypt during the recent Gaza operation, Nazzal called on regional governments to “open the borders and let the fighters through.” The gathering in Istanbul is significant for two reasons. First, it showcases the continued efforts by Islamist movements to present the Gaza events as a watershed dividing the path of “resistance,” which they favor, from the path of “collaboration” that they accuse leading Arab states of following. Second, and perhaps more important, the location of the conference is a further indication of the move of the Islamist AKP government in Turkey toward a more and more open alignment with anti-Western and anti-Israeli forces in the region. The conference organizers themselves were aware of the significance of the event’s location. One of them told a BBC journalist attending the event, “During the past 100 years relations between Arabs and Turks have been strained, but Palestine has brought us together.” Speakers at the conference made constant reference to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to storm off the stage in protest during a recent debate in Davos, Switzerland, on the Gaza operation. The current Turkish government’s willingness to engage with and host regional and Palestinian Islamist forces is not new. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made a controversial trip to Ankara less than a month after Hamas’s victory in Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Interestingly, Mashaal was asked to come directly by the AKP government, after the more secular-minded Turkish Foreign Ministry refused to extend an invitation to him. At the time, some analysts sought to present the invitation to Mashaal as a one-off gesture without deeper significance for the Israeli-Turkish relationship. Subsequent events have disproved this interpretation. Turkey’s response to the Gaza offensive has highlighted a deep rift in relations. Erdogan in the course of the operation questioned Israel’s UN membership. The atmosphere in Turkey during Operation Cast Lead became deeply charged against Israelis and Jews, with a number of ugly incidents recorded across the country. Erdogan attended the emergency summit in Doha on January 16 that was convened by Syria and Qatar to offer support to Hamas. Turkey’s courting of Hamas and hosting of Islamist gatherings form part of a more general regional policy pursued by the AKP government in Ankara. The AKP seeks to build Turkey’s regional “strategic depth,” in its preferred phrase, by building up relations with Syria and Iran. This is presented as a desire to counter-balance, rather than replace, Ankara’s already deep links with the West. However, in the current situation of sharp polarization and cold war in the region, it is becoming increasingly unfeasible for countries to maintain close relations with both the US-led and the Iranian-led camps. The prospect of Turkey moving toward the Iranian-led alliance can no longer be dismissed as fanciful. Turkish analysts have noted the rise of a “Muslim nationalist” orientation in the country, of which the political dominance of the AKP over the last half decade forms the political expression. From this perspective, a regional policy which stresses alliances with other Muslim governments and movements across the region is a natural choice. Growing warmth in Turkey’s relations with Iran and Syria, and the sympathy shown their key client organization Hamas last weekend in Istanbul are all elements of this emerging policy. Of course, it is much too soon to write off the relationship between Turkey and Israel. There are powerful forces within the country which oppose the AKP’s “strategic depth” orientation. Nevertheless, Turkey’s position on recent events has brought great cheer to the Iranian-led camp, and is leading to corresponding new efforts at courtship from Teheran. Senior Iranian officials praised Turkey’s stance during the Gaza crisis, and called for a strategic alliance between the two countries. Yahya Safavi, former commander of the Revolutionary Guards and now security adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said earlier this month that “Erdogan’s courageous words at the Davos summit against the war crimes of the Zionist regime, are evidence of the Islamic awakening among the Turkish people, a result of the influence of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.” Majlis speaker and former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani visited Turkey during the Gaza crisis, holding closed talks with Erdogan. Following the meetings, both men called to enhance the already extensive economic links between Iran and Turkey. Where is Turkey heading? What can be said with certainty is that Ankara’s long-maintained policy of equidistance between Israelis and Palestinians has been dispensed with by the current leadership. The AKP government is aligning itself not only with the Palestinians, but also with Hamas. In the longer term, this may portend a slow shift toward greater alignment with the Iranian-led regional alliance. Such a shift, if it occurs, will bring significant change to the strategic balance in the region.
Israel’s New Leader Will Impact Bible Prophecy
Feb. 20….(FOJ) Israel’s selection of a new Prime Minister has serious repercussions for Israel and the ongoing events in our world. The world is headed full speed ahead towards a socialist type of Global Governance, and that trend is even shaking down the sovereign borders of the US. The Global governance ideologues are insistent that Israel concede to a “peace at any cost” with their Arab neighbors, and cooperate with the building of a new world order superstructure of “peace and safety.” (1Thes 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.) The “peace now at any price” politicians in Israel (Labor, Kadima, etc) would better suit the geo-political desires of the Globalists, while the hardliner Likud under Netanyahu would upset the plans of the peace movement by insisting that Israel be guaranteed security measures. In any event, God’s prophecy concerning Israel’s plight among the nations will be played out soon. Netanyahu is more likely than any other Israeli leader to actually eliminate the bulwark of terror that presently surrounds Israel’s perimeter. Whereas Livni would have suited the Globalist’s peace process (peace of the Antichrist) more at this time, the election of Netanyahu may work to speed up the prophetic process (God’s timing) since he is more likely to defeat Hamas or Hezbollah, thereby possibly fulfilling the prophecy relative to Damascus, and also creating a geo-political vacuum that could enable the eventual implementation of the False Covenant of Peace effected by the Antichrist.
Livni: Kadima Won't Join A Likud-led Gov't
Feb. 20….(JPOST) Hours before President Shimon Peres was expected to complete his consultations with party representatives and decide who to task with forming the next government, and after Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said his party would back Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said that her party would not sit in a Likud-led government. "Today, the foundations of a right-wing extremist government under Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu were set," Livni wrote in a cellular phone text message sent to Kadima members after she had met with party MKs. "Such a government is not our path and we have nothing to look for there." "They didn't vote for us in order to provide authorization for a right-wing government and we need to provide an alternative of hope from the opposition," Livni continued. "Kadima will continue to fight for its beliefs and its path, an agenda based on two states for two peoples, and one that also includes dealing with vital civilian issues." Like Livni, Labor chairman Ehud Barak said earlier Thursday that his party was heading for the opposition. Nevertheless, Netanyhau said he would still appeal to the two in a bid to try and form a unity government, and Peres was due to invite the Likud and Kadima leaders to meet with him in person on Friday. At the President's Residence on Thursday morning, Lieberman had conditioned his recommendation of Natanyahu for prime minister on the formation of a broad government that would include Kadima, but said that he was opposed to a rotation at the helm of the government. Lieberman said that he was opposed to the option of an "unstable government composed of 65 MKs from six parties. Both Netanyahu and Livni will be committed to constructing a foundation, drafting guidelines, and agreeing on principles," Lieberman said. "Bibi needs to get used to talk of a broad government and Tzipi needs to get used to the fact that there can be no rotation, which contains an element of instability and has not proven itself in past instances," he said. Lieberman reiterated that although "the rest of the factions are welcome to join" he would be satisfied with a coalition made up of the 70 Knesset members from Likud, Kadima and Israel Beiteinu. The Likud expressed its satisfaction over the endorsement, saying that they "welcome Lieberman's announcement." "It is now completely clear that a majority of MKs will endorse Netanyahu to form a government," the Likud statement continued, "and therefore Peres should entrust him with building a coalition." Responding to Israel Beiteinu's endorsement during a tour of the South, Livni had implied that Kadima would not join a government led by Likud. "Politics are not only numbers, but a path," she said. "I will continue not only believing in our way, but also leading it, and I don't intend to become a fig-leaf for diplomatic paralysis. There is a path, and Israel should walk it." Peres's second day of coalition consultations began Thursday morning in a meeting with representatives of the Habayit Hayehudi party, who recommended Likud as the party to form the next government. Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Hershkowitz said that his party was in agreement with the Likud's response to the coalition demands of Israel Beiteinu. "Lieberman heads a Zionist party and I believe that we can sit with them peacefully," Hershkowitz said.
Peres Faced With Selecting Netanyahu
(Round of talks with President Peres ends with 65 endorsements for Likud chairman while Kadima's Livni only secures 28. But despite latter's announcement party would sit in opposition, the Likud is still hoping for a broad government)
Feb. 20….(YNET) President Shimon Peres has concluded the round of talks to determine which party leader he will task with forming the new government. But while Kadima has declared it plans to sit in the opposition, the Likud is still trying to win them over. "In light of the scope of the challenges Israel faces, Iran, terrorism, the economic crisis and unemployment, a broad unity government is a must," Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday evening. His statement came hours after Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni informed her supporters she intends to lead to the party to the opposition rather than join an 'extremist' right-wing coalition. The Likud responded, saying that "immediately after President Peres tasks Likud Chairman Netanyahu with forming the government, (Netanyahu) will call on Kadima Chairwoman Livni and Labor Chairman Barak to join a broad unity government under his leadership." With the culmination of the round of talks with Peres, the score stands markedly in Netanyahu's favor with 65 endorsements (from the Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, the National Union and Habayit Hayehudi). Meanwhile Livni garnered the support of the 28 members of her own party. Labor, Meretz and the Arab parties chose not to recommend any candidate to Peres. As a significant number of parties, from both sides of the political spectrum, asked Peres to work towards securing a national unity government, the president has summoned Netanyahu to his office for a private meeting on Friday morning at 10:00, and Livni at 11:30. He intends to stress to both of them the importance of the matter. Peres is expected to announce his decision by Sunday.
Benjamin Netanyahu Gains Major Endorsement as Israel PM
(Benjamin Netanyahu: Israel may soon have a hardline, Right-wing government that may prove an exceptionally difficult partner for America's new administration.)
Feb. 20….(Arutz) Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, formally recommended that President Shimon Peres send for Mr Netanyahu and make him prime minister. Consequently, Israel may soon have a hardline, Right-wing government that may prove an exceptionally difficult partner for America's new administration. Lieberman, who won the balance of power in the Knesset, or parliament, in the general election on Feb 10, had been careful to maximize his bargaining power. Having thrown his weight behind the Likud leader, he will almost certainly be rewarded with a senior cabinet post in the new government, possibly the finance ministry. During a meeting with Peres, Lieberman said: “We are recommending Benjamin Netanyahu only in the framework of a broad government. There must be a government of the three large parties, Likud, Kadima, Yisrael Beiteinu.” But shortly afterwards Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister and Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, told her Kadima party that she would go into opposition, thwarting the creation of a broad coalition government. “We must be an alternative of hope and go into opposition,” she said. Both the Likud leader and Lieberman had hoped to have her on board. He had said that that both Miss Livni and Netanyahu, who is popularly known as “Bibi”, should be willing to compromise in the interests of the country. Miss Livni, who came first in the election with 28 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, had proposed a “rotating premiership” whereby she and Netanyahu, who came second with 27 seats, would take it in turns to be prime minister for two years each. “Bibi has to get used to talk of a broad government and not a narrow government, and Tzipi has to get used to there not being rotation,” said Lieberman before his rebuff from the Kadima leader. Instead, Netanyahu is left with the prospect of being the most moderate member of a government of the hard Right. He risks being seen as the key obstacle to any progress towards peace with the Palestinians as a narrow, Right-wing Israeli government would probably have difficult relations with President Barack Obama’s administration, an outcome that Netanyahu is especially anxious to avoid. Miss Livni’s decision leaves Netanyahu at the helm of hardline government which would, at best, face paralysis over progress towards a peace settlement. Earlier, in a note sent to Ehud Olmert, the caretaker prime minister, Miss Livni made clear that she would not serve under Netanyahu. After Lieberman’s decision, President Peres may now have to formally invite Netanyahu to form a coalition. If the Likud leader achieves this within 28 days, he will become prime minister.
UN: Iran Has Enough Uranium for Nuke Bomb
Feb. 20….(Financial Times) Iran has now built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, United Nations officials acknowledged on Thursday. In a development that comes as the Obama administration is drawing up its policy on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program, UN officials said Iran had produced more nuclear material than previously thought. They said Iran had now accumulated more than one tonne of low enriched uranium hexafluoride at a facility in Natanz. If such a quantity were further enriched it could produce more than 20kg of fissile material, enough for a bomb. “It appears that Iran has walked right up to the threshold of having enough low enriched uranium to provide enough raw material for a single bomb,” said Peter Zimmerman, a former chief scientist of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. The new figures come in a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, released on Thursday. This revealed that Iran’s production of low enriched uranium had previously been underestimated. Iran’s success in reaching such a “breakout capacity,” a stage which would allow it to produce enough fissile material for a bomb in a matter of months, crosses a “red line” that for years Israel has said it would not accept.
Peres Likely to Inject Personal Politics into PM Pick
Feb. 19….(Israel Today) In what could amount to a serious violation of his role as president, Shimon Peres indicated on Wednesday that his personal political views will be the most important factor in choosing Israel's next prime minister. Peres is already dragging out his duty to tap either Benjamin Netanyahu or Tzipi Livni to form the next government much longer than most would have liked. And now some say it is clear why, Peres has been trying to find a way to justify choosing the candidate that most embodies his own convictions regarding the peace process, security and the economy. The Israeli president's role in choosing the next prime minister is a largely ceremonial one. The president is supposed to give the nod to the candidate that has the best chance of forming a stable ruling coalition, without regard to policies and positions. But that didn't stop Peres from declaring that for him "the issue is not only who will be the prime minister but what will be the policy of the State of Israel." Peres is a member of Livni's Kadima Party, one of the primary authors of the land-for-peace process, and an avowed socialist. All of these facts make him diametrically opposed to the policies of Netanyahu and the Likud.
US Defense Expert sees Iranian ICBMs by 2011, Every Major City in the United States in Range
Feb. 19….(Prophecy News) Riki Ellison, Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) issued a statement to the MDAA membership explaining the significance of Iran's launching of a satellite on Feb 2, 2009. Ellison described the history of Iran's development of this capability and how it is a technological step to the development of a fleet of long-range ballistic missiles. His comments are as follows: "Iran's historic first successful space launch on February 2nd, placing its domestically grown satellite 'OMID' into an elliptical orbit around the Earth which has reached heights of 224 miles and speeds of 4.6 miles a second, is currently being tracked by NORAD. OMID has made multiple overflights of the United States and will continue to do so." "This significant event and milestone for Iran has unequivocally demonstrated the key technical attributes to This significant event and milestone for Iran has unequivocally demonstrated the key technical attributes to deliver a payload into orbit and the mathematical ability to release that payload at any chosen point around our planet. Specifically, Iran demonstrated the key attributes of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its space launched vehicle (SLV). The Islamic Republic of Iran technically validated and proved the use of multiple staging, propulsion, and precise guidance and control to deliver a payload into orbit. Even more impressive is Iran's national will to develop and launch this remarkable technical feat despite decades of encompassing international sanctions, the diplomatic efforts from the international community, isolation and international arms control treaties that were put in place to prevent this type of breakthrough. This event has surprised Russian Generals who have recently told American Generals that 'Iran will never achieve this capability in our lifetime.'" Iran, with its new knowledge and demonstrated performance capability of its SLV coupled with its already-existing industry base that has produced close to a 1,000 short and medium-range ballistic missiles will scale up production over the next year to two years to produce ICBMs capable of striking any target around the world Iran deems necessary for its national security. Every major city in the United States and Europe could be targeted with a warhead and if Iran continues unabated to develop a nuclear weapon, that warhead would be a weapon of mass destruction." "In addition to Iran yesterday, South Korean and Japanese media stated that signs have been detected in North Korea of launch plans for the ICBM Taepodong-2. The Taepodong-2 has a 4,500km range that can strike Hawaii and Alaska." "The time is now, to accelerate our country's deployment and development of missile defense both domestically and internationally. We as a nation and a world cannot be held hostage by an Iranian or North Korean long-range ballistic missile with a weapon of mass destruction targeted at one or more of our cities. Furthermore, deployment of missile defense renders Iran's and North Korea's future ICBMs useless and dissuades Iran and North Korea from investing and building these long range missiles while increasing stability in the region with our allies and giving our diplomatic initiatives more time to succeed." "Our nation's military has requested 54 defensive ground-based long-range missiles for our national security against North Korea and Iran. 10 of those 54 are to be placed in Poland to defend Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles. Today, only 25 of those missiles are deployed, 3 of them in California and 22 of them in Alaska." Ellison closed his remarks with this statement: "Missile defense is an option that President Obama must have to protect and defend our nation and the world from Iran and North Korea."
Obama Preparing To Manipulate Israeli Political Scene
Feb. 18….(Israel Today) US President Barack Obama is preparing to quietly manipulate the post-election Israeli political scene to ensure that a unity coalition that will comply with his policies for the region takes power in Jerusalem. That according to London's Daily Telegraph, which cited unnamed sources close to the Obama Administration as saying that as long as the president can keep his actions under wraps, he is ready to interfere in Israel's internal politics. If Benjamin Netanyahu is tapped by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form the next government, as most now expect, then Obama's interference would come in the form of heavy pressure on Tzipi Livni to bring her Kadima Party into Netanyahu's government. According to the newspaper's sources, Obama fears that a right-wing government headed by Netanyahu would put a freeze on the land-for-peace process, and that by balancing Likud with Kadima he would have a far better chance of overseeing a rapid peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Confronting a Society of Sexual Sin
Feb. 18….(One News Room) The president of the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention says the United States is facing a cultural crisis that threatens to reverse civilization and embrace barbarism. In his new book, Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance, Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., looks at many of the most controversial issues concerning sexuality. He notes that the homosexual movement has been clearly successful in moving to the center of America's public life in only a few decades. Dr. Mohler urges Christians to stick with scripture when confronted by those who want to advance homosexuality and other sexual sins. "It's not as if Christians have a multiple choice arena here; we have a pattern of human sexuality given to us in God's Word. And it's not only for God's glory; it's for our good," he contends. "One of the basic principles of the Christian life is that when we find where God is glorified, that's where also we will find our greatest happiness. So we're not asking people to abandon happiness for unhappiness; we're asking them to find a much higher happiness in God's plan." Christians need to be balanced in their response to sexual sin, Mohler asserts. "The perfect balance is struck by Paul in 1 Corinthians when he says to the Corinthian Christians: 'Look, do you not know that those who practice these sins,' and he includes homosexuality in that list, 'will not inherit the Kingdom of God?' That's shocking and absolutely necessary that we know that," he adds. "But he goes on and, speaking to those in that church, he says: 'But such were some of you, but you were washed; you came to know the Lord Jesus Christ.'"
Still the Rockets Fall
Feb. 18….(Stan Goodenough) Arabs in Gaza fired a rocket "into" Israel Tuesday evening in an attempt to kill, wound and terrify civilians. Israel may have markedly stepped down its responses to the terrorism from Gaza, but the Hamas terror group continues daily to fire on Jewish population centers in the south. Rockets were fired on Saturday evening, Sunday evening, and on Monday morning as Israeli children were making their way to school. The timing Monday was understood to be deliberate.No injuries were caused though some damage was reported. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to claim interest in reaching another ceasefire agreement with Israel, and Sunday indicated the two sides were nearing “a breakthrough.” According to Israeli news outlets, IDF officials believe Hamas still has hundreds of rockets, including long-range missiles, despite the damage caused by the IDF in its Gaza operation last month. In late breaking news, the United Nations reports a weapons depot of leftover IDF ordinance from last month's Gaza operation, which the world body was meant to dispose of, has been stolen. Unbelievably the UN had allowed Hamas, the terrorist organization that runs Gaza, to "guard" the explosives. Instead, Hamas had stolen the ordinance, which it plans to use against Israel in the next round of fighting.
Trust in the Lord and Stand on the Land
Feb. 18….(JNEWSWIRE) Israel’s would-be new leadership, and Israelis as a whole, can continue to duck and dive around the subject, doing everything within their intellectual and political ability to avoid engaging it head on, but it remains the most central of all the issues confronting this nation. It will not go away. It will keep on bedeviling governments, stymieing prime ministers, grid-locking cabinets, bringing rule to a dead end and repeatedly forcing early elections, until those leaders reach office who are willing to acknowledge and confront the matter, and take the uncompromising stand that will ensure they resolve it. After 20 years of prime ministers trying every other proffered path, Madrid, Oslo I, Oslo II etc, the Road Map, Annapolis, only to run themselves ragged around the futility of them all, Israel needs a leader who will declare, ‘enough is enough,’ and turn with resolve onto the road all before have been unwilling to tread. It’s staring them in the face. Kadima Party chairman Tzipi Livni, whose party was specifically created by Ariel Sharon to facilitate the crime of the “Disengagement” from Gaza, showed us why Monday night. “We need to give up half of the Land of Israel,” she told a convention of American Jewish leaders, pushing the pusillanimous position that this is the only way to keep Israel Jewish. Livni hopes she’s found a partner in Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Israel Our Home Party that came from behind to win a potentially king-making 15 mandates in the February 10 election. Notwithstanding his party’s patriotic name, and the media’s wall-to-wall painting of him as a “rightist,” Lieberman doesn’t stand with the Jews’ land claim. He rejects the parameters of the “two-state-solution” which sees an Arab state created in Judea, Samaria and Gaza while Israel reverts to its 1948-1967 size. But his platform is open to ceding other pieces of territory, including the Galilee Triangle with its hundreds of thousands of Israeli Arabs. Lieberman has taken a strong stand against the treacherous behavior of those Israeli Arabs, including Arab Knesset members, who have profusely promoted the aims of Israel’s enemies. This is understood to be the main reason many Jews, disillusioned by the manifest failure of the land-for-peace process to abate Arab aggression and hostility, flocked to Israel Our Home. Kadima, increasingly determined to keep the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu out of the prime minister’s office, will compromise to woo Lieberman. Livni lieutenant Haim Ramon announced Monday the party was able to agree with 90 percent of the positions held by Israel Our Home. Kadima is hoping “to break apart the mass of right-wing parties that would recommend Netanyahu,” Ynetnews reported, quoting a party official: “We’re not sure Lieberman will recommend Bibi, so we must do everything possible to make sure he doesn’t.” Will this gelling of parties with centrist and rightist facades but leftist positions lull Israelis once again, or wake them up? And what about “Bibi?” Could it be true, as skeptics argue, that this son of a strongly Zionist family who failed to stand against American pressure to divide up his homeland will, after all, midwife Palestine? Speaking Monday to the same group of visiting Jewish leaders Livni had just visited, Netanyahu partially answered the question. According to the Associated Press, which like most the pro-Arab foreign media would like to help distance voters from Netanyahu, the Likud leader “indicated that his offer to the Palestinians should he be appointed prime minister would be considerably less than a sovereign state.” “Regardless how the solution is achieved, the Palestinians should run their lives. They should govern themselves, but they shouldn’t have certain powers that would threaten the State of Israel.” Netanyahu reportedly ruled out unilateral territorial pullbacks a’la Gaza which, he correctly charged, had enabled Hamas to seize the strip. But he did this without acknowledging that his own unwillingness to leave the Sharon government earlier than he eventually did effectively helped the “disengagement” go through. So what’s this all about, you may ask. The two who would be prime minister ARE speaking to the question of the Land. What they are doing is positioning themselves to surrender it, if in varying degrees. This is not the answer. It might win them the temporary support, again, of this country’s vacillating voters. But these short-term “solutions” benefit Israel’s foes. For 20 years, the “peace process” has only fueled the Arab appetite and enabled them to improve the means to satisfy it.
Livni: Give Up Half of 'Land of Israel'
(Kadima leader tells convention of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem Israel must come forward with its own peace plan to head off international programs that 'will not be in our interest.' Bibi: No unilateral pullbacks from territory)
Feb. 17….(YNET) Tzipi Livni, who hopes to be appointed Israel's prime minister-designate, said Monday Israel must give up considerable territory in exchange for peace with the Palestinians, drawing a clear distinction with her rival, Benjamin Netanyahu. She told a convention of American Jewish leaders, "we need to give up half of the Land of Israel," using a term that refers to biblical borders that include today's Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, repeating her well-known view that pulling out of Palestinian areas would be for the good of Israel, to maintain it as a Jewish state. Livni told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations that Israel must take the initiative and come forward with its own peace plan to head off international programs. "Any plan put on the table will not be in our interest," she said. Livni's centrist Kadima Party won one more seat than the hawkish Likud, led by Netanyahu. He opposes large-scale territorial concessions in peace talks with the Palestinians. He believes negotiations should concentrate instead on building up the Palestinian economy
Netanyahu and Livni, the current foreign minister, both claimed victory in last week's election. Each hopes to be picked by President Shimon Peres to form the next government. Netanyahu appears to have the edge, because a majority of members in the new parliament favor his views. Official results of Israel's election are scheduled to be published Wednesday, and then Peres will begin formal consultations with the 12 parties in the new parliament. He is expected to choose a premier-designate within a few days, starting a period of up to six weeks for coalition negotiations. In his address before the gathering, Netanyahu ruled out unilateral pullbacks from territory, criticizing Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, charging that it allowed the Islamic militant Hamas to take over there. He said he, too, does not want to govern Palestinians, but Israel must maintain control of all borders, airspace and electronic traffic, indicating that his offer to the Palestinians would be considerably less than a sovereign state. "Regardless how the solution is achieved, the Palestinians should run their lives," he said. "They should govern themselves, but they shouldn't have certain powers that would threaten the state of Israel."
Obama Must be Tough With Russia's 'Mafia State'
Feb. 17….(Ken Timmerman) As the Obama administration sends its first envoys to Moscow to “press the reset button” with the Russian government of Vladimir Putin, they would be wise to listen to former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, now a prominent leader of the Russian opposition. Newsmax spoke with Kasparov during a recent trip to Washington, where he offered candid advice to Congress and the new administration on how the United States should deal with Vladimir Putin, the former KGB officer who has become Russia’s “new czar.” Kasparov didn’t mince words. He called on the United States to “treat this regime the way it deserves to be treated. They are criminals, and we expect you to stand up to them as Ronald Reagan did.” In a wide-ranging discussion of Putin, the invasion of Georgia, and what he called the Russian “mafia state,” Kasparov also criticized President George W. Bush for his belief that Putin was a democratic leader, to whose better nature the United States could appeal. Bush and many West European leaders made a “fundamental mistake” when it came to Putin, thinking he was just “one of them.” Kasparov argued that Putin and the clique of former KGB officers he has surrounded himself with are “alien” to Western values. “They don’t believe in the same values, and this is very important,” Kasparov said. “You cannot be misled by the expensive suits they are wearing, the real estate they are buying, the luxury jets and the yachts. It’s just a cover. The core values of our civilization, the core values of democracy, they simply deny.” President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should not repeat the mistakes that Bush made in thinking they can win Putin’s favor.
Obama Faces Dangerous Dilemmas in Changing US Nuclear Policy
Feb. 17….(Newsmax) If he has his way, President Barack Obama will dramatically change the nuclear weapons policy of the US, leaving behind Cold War doctrine and looking to a model of a minimal nuclear arsenal, just ominous enough to do the job of deterrence. Obama may be mired in the economic stimulus debate, but the clock is also relentlessly ticking on some volatile policy decisions regarding the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, the stuff of that deterrence. Foreign nations, friend and foe, are poised to discover Obama’s nuclear agenda, while some critics within the US are fearful that the new president will go too far, too fast. Among the weighty decisions on the president’s plate is whether to extend or renegotiate the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) with Russia, which run outs at the end of 2009, and whether to press for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) -- with which the US only voluntarily complies, according to a report in USA Today. The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military testing or civilian purposes. “This is not just a decision about the future of US nuclear weapons, but about how the United States will address the challenges of nuclear terrorism, nuclear proliferation and our entire 21st-century nuclear strategy,” Clark Murdock, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told USA Today. It’s not just the calendar that is putting the pressure on Obama. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov in February called on the US to deliver a “constructive response” to open negotiations on START II, which he said should include a ban on deployment of strategic offensive arms outside national territories. “This will allow us to arrive in the foreseeable future at an arrangement which will mark a new substantial step forward along the road to missile and nuclear disarmament,” said Ivanov at the recent 45th Munich Security Conference,
UN’s ElBaradei: Israel Undermining Disarmament
(UN nuclear watchdog chief says non-proliferation regime lost its legitimacy in eyes of Arab public opinion because of perceived double-standards concerning Israel)
Feb. 17….(YNET) A perception among Arab nations that Israel has undermined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a major obstacle to global nuclear disarmament, head of the UN's nuclear watchdog said on Monday. Tensions within the IAEA run deep over Israel's presumed nuclear might and its shunning of the NPT. Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal but it has never confirmed or denied it. In an article for the International Herald Tribune, Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency set out what he thought should be done to achieve consensus on nuclear disarmament. "What compounds the problem is that the nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel, the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons," he wrote.
'Glaring breach of core principles'
ElBaradei also reiterated he was encouraged by new US President Barack Obama's commitment to making the elimination of all nuclear weapons a central part of his policy platform. To do that, nations have to overcome cynical attitudes to the United Nations, he said. "The UN and related agencies must be given adequate authority and funding and put in the hands of leaders who have vision, courage and credibility," wrote ElBaradei. In a broadside against the United States and Israel, he said: "Above all, we need to halt the glaring breach of core principles of international law such as limitations on the unilateral use of force, proportionality in self-defense and the protection of civilians during hostilities in order to avoid a repeat of the civilian carnage in Iraq and, most recently, in Gaza." ElBaradei, who is due to leave office in November when his third term expires, clashed with the former Bush administration over what he saw as its unilateralism and refusal to engage with foes like Iran.
Obama Promises Palestinians he'll Protect 'Biblical Heartland'
(President pledges to protest Jewish housing developments)
Feb. 17….(WND) The Obama administration has pledged to the Palestinian Authority it will closely monitor Jewish construction in the West Bank and will protest any new housing developments in the biblical territory, a top PA negotiator told WND. "They told us the White House will watch for any Jewish construction," said the PA negotiator, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Obama knows that if Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is the next prime minister, he will try to expand the settlements. They pledged to us this will be strongly protested," the negotiator said. Although Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's Kadima party captured one more seat that Likud in last week's elections, Netanyahu is considered most likely to form the next government, since he is reportedly able to forge the most stable coalition with other parties in the 120-seat Knesset. Earlier this month, WND reported top PA official stating they received a guarantee from Obama's administration that understandings reached with Israel during US-backed negotiations while President Bush was in office would be utilized as starting points for current and future talks with the Jewish state. The PA officials said they were enthusiastic about the new tone of the White House and about recent meetings with Obama's Mideast envoy, former Democratic Sen. George Mitchell. They said they believe that under Obama the Palestinians can extract from Israel concessions reaching "much further" than during talks held under the previous administration. Israeli and PA sources said Rice's notes document agreements that would seek an eventual major West Bank withdrawal and would grant the PA permission to open official institutions in Jerusalem. A top source said the PA requested that the Obama administration threaten sanctions against Israel for any new Jewish construction in the West Bank. The source told WND that Obama is said to favor Israel withdrawing from nearly the entire West Bank. Israel recaptured the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War. The territory, in which about 200,000 Jews live, is tied to Judaism throughout the Torah and is often referred to as the biblical heartland of Israel.
Russia: Israel Election Results Must Not Alter Peace Process
Feb. 16….(Ha Aretz) Russia's foreign minister on Sunday called for Israel to not let last week's election results freeze the peace process, if a government dominated by the right-wing takes over. "Russia sees great importance in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians," Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that Israel must "preserve the momentum of the diplomatic process in spite of the results of Israel's elections." Lavrov also said that Russia is planning a Mideast peace conference for the first half of this year. Lavrov said that Moscow has diplomatic channels with Hamas and is pressing on the militant group to engage in peace talks with Israel, but that their leaders are not all of the same opinion. Lavrov added that Arab nations and Israel will be invited to the conference. He said the conference will be a continuation of US-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks restarted in 2007, and an Arab peace initiative. Lavrov is visiting Israel. He told President Shimon Peres on Sunday that he hopes the new Israeli government will renew peace talks. According to a statement, Peres responded, "Our hand will always be extended in peace, but we cannot accept a situation in which rockets are fired at our citizens."
Feb. 16….(Israel Today) While in public Washington is staying out of Israel's internal affairs, Israeli government officials say that in private President Barack Obama is pushing for a unity government between Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Tzipi Livni's Kadima parties. Aides to Netanyahu confirmed at the weekend that they had received messages that Obama wants a unity government, and not a right-wing government that would likely stall the land-for-peace process with the Arabs. Kadima officials denied receiving similar messages. The European Union was less subtle, with foreign policy chief Javier Solana declaring publicly on Friday that only an Israeli unity government could bring progress in the peace process.
Russia Selling S-300 Anti-air Missiles to Iran for its Nuclear Sites
Feb. 16….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile's military sources report that Iran's defense minister Mostafa Najar travels to Moscow Monday, Feb. 16 to tie up the last ends of Tehran's purchase of a brigade of advanced Russian S-300 air defense missiles to guard its nuclear sites. Our Iranian sources report that Najar will be the guest of the Russian defense ministry and the giant missile manufacturers Almaz Antey and visit the new missile's production and testing sites. Its components are produced in dozens of factories across Russian, the missile itself at one group, the radar systems in another and the missile batteries at a third. DEBKAfile's Washington and Jerusalem sources recall that prime minister Vladimir Putin in his previous role as Russian president personally assured the US and Israeli governments more than once that he would never release the lethal S-300 missiles to Iran. Their acquisition would make an air attack on Iran's nuclear facilities extremely difficult and dangerous. Washington sources believe that the Kremlin is about to comply with Iran's request in order to turn the heat on the Obama administration for a final decision to waive plans to install an American missile shield in East Europe.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 8 THROUGH FEBRUARY 14
Final Israel Vote Tally Confirms Kadima Win
February 13…(JNEWSWIRE) Israel's left-of-center Kadima Party's one-seat win in this week's general election was confirmed Thursday evening after the so-called "soldiers' votes" were finally tallied. Following the final votes' count, reported The Jerusalem Post, "Kadima remained with 28 mandates, Likud followed with 27 mandates, Israel Beiteinu was the third biggest party with 15 mandates, and Labor won only 13 mandates." The results exposed as wishful thinking the predictions of a number of optimists on the right that the votes of the soldiers would nudge Likud Leader Benjamin Netanyahu past Kadima's Tzipi Livni. It brought into some question the equally hopeful predictions that "Bibi," as Netanyahu is popularly known, will be the one to form the next Israeli government. The next step in the stilted process will be the tapping by Israeli State President Shimon Peres of either Livni or Netanyahu to try and form a government. Peres will be consulting with the other parties that won Knesset seats Tuesday to determine which of the two candidates is most likely to succeed.
Washington NIE: Iran Still Pursuing Bomb
Feb. 13….(Jpost) Departing from an intelligence estimate published just over a year ago, the Obama administration made it clear that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. The report cited a news conference this week in which US President Barack Obama mentioned Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon" before correcting himself and saying that the Islamic Republic was merely "pursuing" the bomb. The harsher terminology reflects the degree to which senior US officials have rejected the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which said Iran had discontinued its military nuclear program in 2003, the report said. "When you're talking about negotiations in Iran, it is dangerous to appear weak or naive," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear weapons expert and president of an anti-proliferation organization based in Washington, telling the paper that Obama's unambiguous stance insured that he would not be blamed of "underestimating Iran." Obama said Monday his administration was looking for opportunities to open direct talks with Iran, but that years of mistrust would be hard to overcome. US officials were quoted by the paper as saying the change in policy did not stem from any new evidence but rather from a "growing consensus" that the 2007 report was misleading and did not convey the urgency of the situation, that Iran is on the verge of reaching important milestones towards producing a nuclear bomb. Obama's senior intelligence official was slated to address concerns over Teheran's nuclear drive in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. "Teheran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005," stated the unclassified summary of the NIE report. At the time, an Israeli government official had said there was enough evidence in it to "factually support our most grave concerns about the Iranian nuclear program." According to the official, the report said Iran did have a military nuclear program up until 2003, at a time when the country had a more moderate president than its current leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even though they vociferously denied a nuclear weapons program at the time. "This just shows they were lying all along," the official said. The report was instrumental in holding up efforts by the US and Europe to induce Iran to freeze its nuclear program. According to recent assessments, Iran's enrichment program will enrich enough uranium to produce a bomb by the end of 2009.
China to Boost Relations With Arabs
Feb. 13….(Arab Press) Saudi Arabia and China have pledged to work together to reform the world financial system. “Riyadh and Beijing have agreed to keep close contacts with a view to reforming the global financial institutions,” said Chinese President Hu Jintao after talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah. Beijing also seeks to expand its ties with Gulf states within the framework of a new vision of bilateral relations that has been set out by the two blocs: the GCC and China. “Beijing would like to boost links with the six-nation GCC in all sectors,” Hu said. A keen desire to boost Sino-GCC relations and a plan for joint efforts with the Kingdom to ensure better functioning of the global system figured prominently during Hu’s talks with senior Saudi and GCC officials yesterday. The global crisis was also discussed with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on Tuesday night. “The international situation is undergoing profound changes. In particular, the global financial crisis has posed severe challenges to us,” said the Chinese leader. Saudi Arabia and China will work closer at the G-20 Summit to be held on April 2, he added. Both countries are members of G-20, which is working on an ambitious plan to draft and adopt new rules and measures to confront the new challenges amid global financial crisis, especially new accounting, auditing and banks’ reporting rules. Hu said that China and Saudi Arabia should step up coordination, work more closely on trade and investment, jointly respond to and guard against financial risks, in an effort to ensure the two countries’ economic and financial stability. On the second day of his visit yesterday, the Chinese leader also visited Riyadh Cement Company, which has just contracted China’s Sinoma International Engineering to expand its production lines. Hu also met with the Chinese Embassy staff, members of the local Chinese community and representatives of several Chinese companies here yesterday. Referring to his talks with GCC chief Al-Attiyah, Hu said that trade liberalization measures topped the agenda of the talks, while trade, investment and energy relations were discussed in detail.
Abbas Likens Israel's Likud to Hamas
Feb. 13….(Ha Aretz) Israel's "moderate" and "pragmatic" peace partner Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been actively lobbying foreign powers to treat the man likely to be the Jewish state's next prime minister in the same way they do the leaders of Hamas. Ha'aretz reports that Abbas launched his international campaign against Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party last week by meeting with the leaders of France, Italy and the UK. Abbas stressed that because they shunned Hamas for failing to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism, those same leaders must now blacklist Netanyahu because he won't permit the rapid creation of a Palestinian Arab state. During his election campaign, Netanyahu repeatedly stated that he intends to put the land-for-peace process on hold while focusing instead on reconciling Israelis and Palestinians along economic lines. An Israeli diplomatic source told Ha'aretz that Abbas received guarantees from the European leaders that they would not allow any Israeli government to delay or freeze the land-for-peace process.
Russia May Finally Host ME Peace Summit
Feb. 13….(JPOST) While not enthused at this time about any international peace conference, Israel would prefer that, if one becomes inevitable, it be hosted by Russia, not France, senior government officials said Thursday. The officials spoke ahead of a somewhat oddly timed visit to Israel on Sunday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and as a race was heating up between Russia and France over who would host the next international Middle East conference. One of the reasons for Lavrov's visit, even at a time of governmental transition in Israel, is to push Moscow's bid, the official said. Lavrov will also be going to the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Oman and Bahrain. Lavrov, according to Russian sources, will meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu. Israeli officials said Jerusalem favored Russia to host another Middle East summit, if one must be held, because Moscow had been pushing for a follow-up to the 2007 Annapolis conference for months; because the idea had been enshrined in numerous Quartet statements since; because Israel appreciated Moscow's "balanced" position during Operation Cast Lead; and because French President Nicolas Sarkozy seemed intent on using a conference to push for wider international acceptance of Syrian President Bashar Assad, even though Damascus had not modified its behavior regarding Hizbullah, Hamas, Lebanon or Iran. The officials said that with US President Barack Obama's administration still not yet in full stride on the Middle East, Sarkozy, who is always looking for initiatives, sensed an opportunity to raise his country's profile in Middle East diplomacy. The move, according to Israeli officials, has irritated the Russians. "The French are trying to do everything to paint a moderate portrait of Assad, even though Syria has not yet sent an ambassador to Lebanon, has not stopped the arms smuggling to Hizbullah, and is still supporting Hamas. The French are creating an illusion of Syria, as if they are not reading the papers or intelligence documents," the officials said. Sarkozy, who floated the international conference idea last month, discussed it in Paris earlier in the week with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. On Wednesday in Moscow, following talks with top EU foreign policy officials, Lavrov said that "we will soon announce the time frame for holding a Moscow conference." An announcement of such a meeting while Israel's leaders are still busy putting together a coalition, however, could be awkward. According to the official, any Prime Minister that backed away from Israel's commitment to a two-state solution would find itself badly isolated in the international community. "Any government that says it doesn't accept two states would be completely isolated. No one would work with it, or if they did, it would be tense. Israel's efforts to upgrade relations with the EU and join the OECD, as well as many processes begun with the US, would be endangered.
US (Obama) Concerned over Prospect of Right-Wing Government
Feb. 12….(Jerusalem Post) US officials are publicly taking a wait-and-see approach to the formation of a new Israeli government, but privately many have expressed concern that Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu might preside over a right-wing coalition. "There would be great unease" at the prospect of such a government, said one Capitol Hill source. He predicted that a governing coalition of parties from the Right could embolden the left flank of the Democratic party and turn up pressure, particularly in the US Congress, to pass measures that made clear demands on Israel. He distinguished, however, between a Netanyahu-led right-wing coalition and Netanyahu-led national unity government. Despite the Likud's second-place finish to the centrist Kadima party, parties on the Right won more of the vote, which means Netanyahu might have an easier time forming a hawkish coalition but could try to work out a formula for a unity government, as could Kadima head Tzipi Livni. The Capitol Hill source, who didn't want to be identified speaking about another country's internal politics, noted that Netanyahu had made a strong effort to reach out to the Obama administration and made the case to the US and the Israeli public that he could work with the White House. He said that attitude could help assuage US concerns when presented in a national-unity package, whose positions - whether under Netanyahu or Livni - would be more in line with the US's own policies of engagement on Arab-Israeli reconciliation. "The hope is that there is a government that is really committed to peace with the Palestinians," The Washington Post quoted one senior administration official saying. Even if Netanyahu prevails, the official added, "he's grown over the years. Getting back to the talks with the Palestinians is really the only solution." Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, said Wednesday that the Likud leader strongly preferred to put together a national-unity government that looked toward the center of the country's political spectrum rather than a right-wing coalition. "He's said his biggest mistake when he was prime minister last time was not reaching out to Shimon Peres," who then headed the Labor party, Dermer said on a conference call with the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. "I do not believe he will make the same mistake this time. "I very much hope that Tzipi Livni will put politics aside" to sit in a Likud-led government, Dermer added. Still, many political analysts say there's no doubt the Obama administration would prefer to see a national-unity government headed by Livni. "The impression in Israel is that the Obama administration has already made its preference known and that its preference is for Kadima, and that impression isn't going anywhere," said Georgetown University professor and Israel expert Michael Oren. "They'd rather work with a centrist government than a right-wing government." He added that the preference of the Obama camp, with its interest in intensive diplomacy, was "legitimate," noting that many Israelis preferred Republican presidential candidate John McCain because they observed a greater alignment of views. When it comes to Livni, the administration sees someone who has spent the last year working with the Palestinians as part of a negotiating process and made the two-state solution an important part of her campaign, while Netanyahu has been much more circumspect on the extent of his support for that formulation, focusing his campaign on the need for security. And while Netanyahu did sign agreements that gave control of West Bank areas to the Palestinians as prime minister in the late '90s, he had a troubled relationship with many of the American officials who served under then president Bill Clinton, several of whom are returning to office under Obama. Dennis Ross, Clinton's Middle East envoy and likely to be a top regional representative, described Netanyahu as "overcome by hubris" after his first election to the premiership and recalled him being "nearly insufferable, lecturing and telling us how to deal with the Arabs" in his book on the Oslo peace process. Still, publicly US officials are welcoming the Israeli democratic process and indicating their readiness to work with whoever becomes prime minister. "This is a choice these Israeli people will have to make. Once that new government is formed, regardless of who is in that government, we will work with that government," said US State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood on Wednesday. "We look forward to working with that new government once it's formed. We have a robust agenda with the government of Israel, as you know. And so we're looking forward to getting down to business with the new government." When questioned about whether a government with right-wing leadership would hurt American peace efforts, Wood responded, "We certainly hope that a new government will continue to pursue a path to peace. I see no reason to think that a new government would do something otherwise." He added that he knew of no change to Middle East envoy George Mitchell's plans to make his second visit to Israel at the end of the month. "The administration is being very cautious," said an Israeli official about the silence from US officials right now. He noted that regardless of their views, they understood that they could have to work with both leaders and didn't want to prejudice either relationship. Oren said the US leadership had done better at keeping a lid on its feelings than many previous US and Israeli governments. "This administration is more constrained and more controlled in saying whom they prefer," he said. He added that if the US expressed its preference for Livni too loudly, it could backfire and hurt her position. He compared the situation to the boost in the polls Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman received from the police's pursuit of corruption charges, since some of his supporters felt he was being unfairly targeted. "It could boomerang, just like Lieberman picked up [support] from the police investigation," he said.
Netanyahu: No Rotation with Livni
(Likud leader rejects notion of sharing power with Kadima during faction meeting Wednesday evening; Netanyahu urges Livni to cast aside political considerations, join Likud-led government.)
Feb. 12….(YNET) The Likud party will form the next government and will not share power with Kadima, Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday evening. "We received a mandate from the people. We shall turn to our natural partners, and later aim to expand the government," Netanyahu reportedly said during a Likud faction meeting. "There will be no rotation." "Should Kadima cast aside political considerations and spins, and show concern for the government and for the welfare of the State, they shall join our government," Netanyahu said. "I will embark on official contacts following the president's decision. It's not simple, yet also not too complicated."
A senior Likud official said Wednesday that the meeting was seemingly meant to update new faction members on coalition negotiations, yet "its main objective was to give faction members a sense of partnership" in order to avoid complaints later. The new and expanded post-election Likud faction convened for the first time at the Knesset Wednesday evening. Unlike other such meetings, correspondents were kept out of the session and Netanyahu refrained from making an opening statement to the media. The secrecy shrouding Netanyahu's actions lasted the entire day, as Bibi's aides refrained from providing the media with information regarding the location or content of his meetings with the representatives of various parties. Earlier Wednesday, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni met in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem with Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, whose party won 15 mandates in the elections, putting them in a key position for building the coalition. At the end of her meeting with Lieberman, Livni said, "The public decided and established who it wants to see as the prime minister. This is an opportunity for unity that can promote the issues that are important to you as well."
Syria Poised to Transfer Iranian Mobile Anti-air Missiles to Lebanese Hizballah
Feb. 12….(DEBKA) Israel's government changeover catches its armed forces on a high war alert on two fronts – its southern border with the Gaza Strip and its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria. Iran is deeply involved in both. The northern borders may be the more flammable, our military sources report, after Israel warned Damascus, through US, Egyptian and Turkish channels, that its delivery of scores of mobile anti-air missile systems to Hizballah in Lebanon would cross a red line. Their possession would make Hizballah the first terrorist group in the world to be armed with an independent air defense weapon system. In Hizballah's hands, this air defense system would seriously endanger Israeli air movements over Galilee and the Mediterranean, impede US Sixth Fleet flights and endow the Lebanese Shiite group with total military superiority over the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL peacekeepers in the south. According to our military sources, scores of missile carriers painted in Hizballah's colors stand ready at four Syrian military depots ready to cross the Lebanese border. In the last six months, hundreds of operatives trained in their operation in Iran and Syria. Iranian and Syrian missile officers have picked Lebanese sites for their deployment. Hizballah has placed them off-limits to civilians. The highly-mobile, low-altitude, single-stage surface-to-air missile has a radar system that can detect, track and engage aircraft independently, picking up targets at 30 km and begin tracking them at 20-25 km. Two separate missile guidance radars are used (with offset frequencies to reduce the effectiveness of Electronic Counter Measures (ECM), so that if one is jammed or shut down, the new missiles can track targets optically. It is armed with a 19-kilo fragmentation warhead with contact and proximity detonation capability. A battery consists of two launch vehicles, each armed with 6 missiles and two transload vehicles with 18 missile reloads. The lethal radius at low altitude is 5 meters. It is highly mobile, fully amphibious, air transportable and can be relocated to a new site within four minutes from system shutdown. The integration of the newbatteries with the C-802 shore-to-ship missiles (of which Hizballah has taken delivery of more than 1,000), when deployed along the Lebanese Mediterranean coast would sharply inhibit the movements of the US Sixth Fleet
Netanyahu, Livni Each Declare Win in Israeli Election
Feb. 11….(AP) Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and hard-line rival Benjamin Netanyahu
both claimed victory in Israel's parliamentary election Tuesday, which early returns suggested was too close to call. With 67 percent of the votes counted, Livni's centrist Kadima Party had 29 seats in the 120-seat parliament while Netanyahu's hawkish Likud Party was right behind with 28, Israel's Channel 1 television said. However, soldiers' votes on bases across the country weren't being tallied until Thursday evening, which could shift the results by a seat or two. Regardless of who gets the most votes, Netanyahu's Likud Party appeared to have the upper hand in forming a ruling coalition thanks to strong showing by other right-wing parties. "With God's help, I will lead the next government," Netanyahu told a raucous crowd of cheering supporters chanting his nickname, Bibi, early Wednesday. "The national camp, led by the Likud, has won a clear advantage." Soon after, Livni took the stage before a crowd of flag-waving supporters and flashed a V-for victory sign. "Today the people chose Kadima. We will form the next government led by Kadima," she declared. Exit polls had earlier showed Livni with a slight lead, but strong gains by right-wing parties overall would make it difficult, and perhaps impossible, for her to form a government. Even if Livni could overcome the formidable obstacles and become Israel's second female prime minister after Golda Meir, the early results suggested she would have to rely on the participation of right-wing parties opposed to her vision of giving up land in exchange for a peace deal with the Palestinians. Despite the uncertainties, both sides claimed victory. Applause, cheers and whistling erupted at Kadima headquarters in Tel Aviv as television stations began reporting their exit polls, with supporters jumping up and down and giving each other high-fives and hugs. At Likud headquarters, Netanyahu supporters expressed confidence their man would still become Israel's leader. Israeli exit polls have not always been reliable, especially when the vote is close, but the projected results marked a dramatic slide for Netanyahu, who had held a solid lead in opinion polls heading into the election. The projections showed hard-line parties winning as many as 66 seats in the 120-member parliament, while liberal parties captured just 54 seats. Preliminary results were expected early Wednesday. Israelis vote for parties, not individuals. Since no party won a parliamentary majority, the leader of one of the major parties must try to put together a coalition with other factions, a process that can take up to six weeks. In coming days, President Shimon Peres will ask the leader who he believes is most capable of forming a coalition to try to put together a government.
Washington, Moscow at Cross-Purposes on Nuclear Iran
Feb. 11….(DEBKAfile Special Report) While US president Barack Obama told the media early Tuesday, Feb. 10, that the US would pursue direct talks with Iran, an official Russian spokesman said his government would complete Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr within three months. DEBKAfile's sources report that Obama is planning on the dialogue with Tehran beginning in late June. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replied by welcoming talks based on mutual respect provided the changes in Washington were "fundamental and not just tactical." The three statements hung over Israel's general election Tuesday, as 5.2 million eligible voters turned out to choose a prime minister capable of military action to halt Iran race toward a nuclear bomb. Despite the talk in Washington and Moscow of eased strains in their relations, the Kremlin has clearly come down on the side of giving the Iranian leaders a strong hand in their coming dialogue with the Obama administration. They will come to the table without giving up uranium enrichment in the face of UN sanctions, with long-range ballistic missiles capable of placing a satellite in orbit and having acquired a key element for its nuclear program, a functioning reactor at Bushehr capable of producing processed plutonium. Talking to reporters, early Tuesday, President Obama said: "In the coming months, we will be looking for openings… to start sitting across the table face to face" with Iran. He stressed that the administration has deep concerns about Iranian policy, citing Iran's support for Hizballah and Hamas, its "bellicose" language to Israel and its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. The US must use all the tools at its disposal in dealing with Iran and that "includes diplomacy," he said. Iran must understand that the US finds Iranian actions such as funding of terrorist groups unacceptable, said Obama. But he added that "there's a possibility, at least, of a relationship of mutual respect and progress." DEBKAfile's exclusive Washington sources add: Following internal White House deliberations, Obama decided that his talks with Iranian leaders would not begin before late June, by which time the results of Iran's presidential election earlier that month would be known. The incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be running for a second term against the reformist leader Muhammed Khatami. A few hours before Obama spoke, Alexander Maryasov, director of one of the Russian foreign ministry's Asia departments, said: "I want to stress once again the readiness of the Russian side to complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant within the set timeframe. I believe that after the shipment of nuclear fuel for the electric power plant took place last month, the Iranian side should have no doubts on this score." DEBKAfile's military sources disclose that Russia delivered 82 metric tons of nuclear fuel to power the plant in the second half of January. This is enough both to fuel the manufacture of electricity and of plutonium. Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said earlier that the Bushehr plant was 94.8% complete. Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said it was due to be operational in the first half of 2009.
Tzipi Livni Two Places Ahead of Likud's Netanyahu
Feb. 11….(DEBKAfile Special Report) Both claim lead spot for forming the next government. Exit polls placed Tzipi Livni, 50, with 29 Knesset seats (out of 120), two places ahead of former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's 28 in the general election for Israel's 18th Knesset Tuesday, Feb. 10. Avigdor Lieberman's right-wing Israel Beitenu came third with 15, pushing Ehud Barak's Labor, the state's founding party, down to fourth place with 13 seats. The right-of-center camp led by Netanyahu won an overall majority of 64 compared with the 56 left-of-center headed by Livni. Although her Kadima has pulled ahead, Livni will have to bargain hard for a government coalition and is challenged by Netanyahu. With the exit polls so close, the results may fluctuate by the time final results are in Wednesday morning. Outgoing defense minister, Labor's Ehud Barak will be urged by his own party to join Livni. Kadima candidates are advising her to form a national unity government with Labor and Likud, awarding defense to Barak and Netanyahu foreign affairs, in order to leave the spectacularly successful nationalist Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beitenu in the opposition. If Livni does manage to horse-trade her way to forming a coalition government, she will be Israel's second woman prime minister after Golda Meir. Other results: Ultra-religious Shas polled 10 seats, United Torah 5, left-wing Meretz 4, Hadash (communists) 4, Balad – 4, Bayit Yehudi – 3, National Union – 3. Foreign minister in the outgoing administration, a lawyer, former justice minister and Mossad staffer, Livni is untested in the two dominant popular concerns, security and the failing economy. An advocate of peace talks, she is generally considered a naïve negotiator and over-influenced by foreign colleagues and international opinion. Her campaign was a highly personal one, which kept her unimpressive list of candidates well in the wings. The showing of Lieberman's Israel Beitenu cut deep into Netanyahu's right-of-center Likud and the religious parties, in the same way as Livni's relatively new Kadima sliced chunks off the traditional constituencies of defense minister Ehud Barak's Labor and the left-wing Meretz. Netanyahu lost his early margin as frontrunner by miscalculating the strength of his rivals. Unlike Livni, he refrained from throwing himself into rough and ready contact with grass-roots voter and relied on the Internet to carry his message. Instead of promoting the dream team he started out with, he cut a deal with Barak to join forces after the election and force Kadima to languish in opposition. That deal boomeranged as the Labor leader lost ground. Livni hopes to snatch Likud's natural right-wing partner, Avigdor Lieberman's Israeli Beitenu, from under his nose by downplaying his ultra-nationalist super-security message. Netanyahu and Barak are both former prime ministers. Netanyahu known as Bibi, campaigned on a clear tickets: No nuclear arms for Iran, no repartition of Jerusalem, no concession of the Golan and an end to Hamas rule of Gaza. His term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 ended with his defeat by Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, a former chief of staff and foreign minister. As finance minister from 2001-2005 under Ariel Sharon, the Likud leader is credited with turning around the economy blighted by the Palestinian uprising, and fostering years of dramatic growth.
Israeli Election Shocker: Netanyahu Projected Loser?
(But opposition leader could still become next prime minister)
Feb. 11….(WND) In a shocking development, the Kadima party headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has been projected as the winner of today's elections in Israel, according to initial exit polls. The projected results, if verified by ballot counts, would be a major upset for opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been leading in all major polls the past few months. Still, there is a possibility Netanyahu could become the next prime minister, even if his party doesn't garner them most votes. An exit poll commissioned by Israel's Ynetnews.com showed Livni's Kadima party taking 28 Knesset seats, with Netanyahu's Likud coming in second with 26 mandates. The Yisrael Beiteinu party, led by nationalist Avigdor Leaberman, was projected to take 16 seats, with the leftist Labor party, headed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak winning just 14. Similar exit polls conducted by all three Israeli television networks also found Livni in the lead by an average of two seats. In Israel, prime ministers are not directly elected. Instead, voters chose a specific party, with the votes being used to determine how many seats each party will hold in the 120-chair parliament. Usually, the leader of the party with the most seats becomes the prime minister if he or she can put together a stable coalition consisting of more than half of Knesset seats. Should Kadima take the most seats, as projected, a situation could arise in which Livni would not be able to recruit enough parties to put together a stable coalition, particularly if Yisroel Beiteinu and Labor work with Netanyahu in an effort to block Livni. Also instrumental will be the ultra-religious Shas party and smaller nationalist and religious parties. Today's elections were scheduled because Livni could not muster enough parties to join her coalition following the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert late last year. Even though his Likud party may hold fewer seats, if Livni fails to form a coalition then Netanyahu may be able to form a stable enough coalition with Yisroel Beiteinu, Shas, Labor and nationalist parties, meaning he could still become prime minister. Already, initial estimates show right-leaning parties will take about 63 seats while left-leaning parties will only have 57, with the rest of the chairs going to religious and Arab parties. If the "rightist" bloc bands together, only Netanyahu would be able to form a coalition and become prime minister. Ultimately, the decision on who is allowed to form a coalition will be up to Israeli President Shimon Peres, whose office is charged with selecting a politician for the task. Traditionally, the leader of the party with the most seats is immediately asked to form a government, but if that leader, projected to be Livni, then fails, Peres can ask Netanyahu to follow. The differences between Livni and Netanyahu are stark. Livni favors talks with Syria and continuing US-brokered negotiations with the Palestinian Authority aimed at an eventual Israeli retreat from the strategic West Bank and perhaps eastern Jerusalem. She has not espoused a strong policy regarding Iran. Netanyahu has spoken against evacuating strategic territory and has pledged that as prime minister his main goal would be to halt Iran's purported drive to develop nuclear weapons.
United Nations Population Control Leader Says Breakdown of Family Institutions is Good
Feb. 10….(In The Days) Speaking at a colloquium held last month at Colegio Mexico in Mexico City, UNFPA representative Arie Hoekman denounced the idea that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births represent a social crisis, claiming that they represent instead the triumph of “human rights” against “patriarchy.” “In the eyes of conservative forces, these changes mean that the family is in crisis,” he said. “In crisis? More than a crisis, we are in the presence of a weakening of the patriarchal structure, as a result of the disappearance of the economic base that sustains it and because of the rise of new values centered in the recognition of fundamental human rights.” “Day after day, Mexico experiences a process of this diversity and there are those who understand it as a crisis, because they only recognize one type of family,” one of the speakers on the panel also told the audience. The comments followed close on the heels of the World Meeting of Families, which was held in Mexico City in January, and which strongly reaffirmed the importance of the traditional family and its indispensible role in transmitting values to the next generation. It was opened by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who observed that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births were contributing to the rise of violence and crime in Mexico. Leonardo Casco, a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family and a citizen of Honduras, told LifeSiteNews that he wasn’t surprised that the UNFPA was denying the crisis in the family. “They definitely have to deny that there is a crisis in the family, because they have created the crisis,” he said. Calling the UNFPA “bureaucrats at the service of death,” Casco observed that “after 45 years of birth control, the pill, disrespect for marriage for the family, for children, etc, this is the result. Because of that we have violence, war, lack of respect of women, children.” Through their promotion and distribution of contraceptives the UNFPA has become “a birth control agency at the service of the most powerful countries” said Casco. “They have destroyed the family, values, this is undeniable, it’s what everyone says, but they always have to deny it.” Regarding Hoekman’s comments about “human rights,” Casco responded that UNFPA bureaucrats “have invented a series of new ‘human rights’,” that did not exist when the concept was defined in 1948, “with which they wish to justify all of their actions.” The UNFPA recently celebrated the restoration of US support after seven years, during which they were denied funding by the Bush administration. UNFPA has cooperated with and even helped to subsidize China’s One Child Policy, which persecutes and performs forced abortions on women who have more than one child. In addition to its support for forced abortions, the UNFPA has helped to administer forced sterilizations in South America and is involved in the distribution and promotion of contraceptives and sterilization worldwide, with a focus on poorer countries.
Netanyahu Will Not be Obama’s Lackey
Feb. 10….(Bloomberg) Even before Benjamin Netanyahu finds out whether he will be Israel’s next Prime Minister, he is sending a message to President Barack Obama that he won’t be pushed around. Netanyahu, the Likud party candidate who narrowly leads Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ahead of elections tomorrow, last week took reporters to Arab parts of Jerusalem, where he helped establish Jewish footholds when he was previously prime minister. No pressure, he said, would make him cede those neighborhoods “to our enemies.” Just as he confounded former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Netanyahu probably will resist if Obama pushes too hard to extract Israeli concessions for peace in the Middle East. “He’s extremely effective politically, unbelievably smart and relentlessly suspicious when it comes to the Arabs and the Americans,” says former U.S. negotiator Aaron David Miller, author of “The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace.” Livni, leading the ruling Kadima party, has campaigned on the need to continue peace talks and compromise with the Palestinians. She would likely have a more harmonious relationship with Obama -- if she were able to cobble together enough support to form a governing coalition consistent with her views. That isn’t certain, given the decline in polls of the Labor Party, Kadima’s coalition partner, which advocates Palestinian statehood. “A Livni coalition would be so fragile that it wouldn’t be able to take any decisive steps with the Palestinians and stay in power,” says Roni Bart, a researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. Likud, which has led throughout the campaign, was forecast to win 27 seats in the 120-member parliament in a Haaretz/Dialog poll released Feb. 6, compared with 25 for Livni’s Kadima. The poll, which has a margin of error of three seats and was the last before the vote, puts the two in a statistical dead heat. A Netanyahu victory would put the future of Middle East peacemaking in the hands of two men with different outlooks on the Muslim world. Over the course of his political career, which included serving as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Netanyahu has warned about the danger of trusting the Palestinians. Obama, by contrast, addressed Muslim countries in his inaugural speech Jan. 20, calling for “a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” He gave his first interview as president to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television and pledged to “start now” on Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts. Netanyahu, 59, has said he wants to continue talks with the Palestinians, though he would shift the focus to “creating infrastructure for a political settlement,” helping rebuild the West Bank economy and demanding an end to violence. Unlike Ehud Olmert, who resigned as prime minister in September and remains in a caretaker role, Netanyahu says he won’t remove any Jewish settlements from the West Bank, a key Palestinian demand. “Achieving peace isn’t going to happen any time soon,” says Zalman Shoval, Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser and a former ambassador to Washington. Palestinians say further talks would be worthless if they don’t include negotiating the borders of a future Palestinian state, the removal of Jewish settlements and the status of Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s vision would keep Palestinians as “slaves and workers to serve the Israeli economy,” says As’ad Abu Sharekh, a political analyst at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University. If Netanyahu beats Livni, his willingness to engage Obama will be dictated by the governing coalition he manages to form with other parties in Israel’s Knesset.
Biden Calls for 2-State Solution in Middle East
(US vice president Biden tells international leaders, security experts in Munich his country will work to achieve secure, just solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He adds US willing to talk with Iran, but will act to isolate and pressure Tehran if it does not abandon its nuclear ambitions, support for terrorism)
Feb. 9….(YNET) US Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the United States would work to achieve a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. "It is past time for a secure and just two-state solution. We will work to achieve it, and to defeat the extremists who would perpetuate the conflict," he told a security conference in Munich. "And, building on the positive elements of the Arab Peace initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia, we will work toward a broader regional peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors." He also said the United States was willing to talk with Iran, but will act to isolate and pressure Tehran if Iran continues its current course and does not abandon its nuclear ambitions and support for terrorism. In a sweeping speech to international leaders and security experts, Biden said the US will strive to act preventively to avoid having to choose between the risks of war and the dangers of inaction. But he held out the option that the US could take pre-emptive action against Iran if necessary to stop crisis before they start. Biden added it was time to repair the rift in relations between the US and Russia. He said NATO and Russia should cooperate to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaida, but warned the US will continue to have differences with Moscow, including opposition to its efforts to carve out independent states in Georgia. Biden's comments come just days after the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan announced it will shut down American access to the Manas air base, which the US uses to resupply troops in Afghanistan. The decision came after Kyrgyzstan secured more than $2 billion in loans and aid from Russia.
Communist Party: Obama Will Nationalize US Economy
(Claims 'people advocate president' pushing through radical agenda)
Feb. 9….(WND) President Obama is "considering" a radical agenda to nationalize the U.S. financial system, the Federal Reserve Bank, and private industries such as energy and other sectors whose future is "problematic" in private hands, claims the leader of the Communist Party USA. In a major speech focused on Obama titled "Off and running: Opportunity of a lifetime," CPUSA leader Sam Webb also alleges Obama's administration is considering turning education, childcare, and health care into "no profit zones;" rerouting investment capital from military infrastructure to "green economy" projects and public infrastructure; and waging a "full scale" assault on global warming. "We now have not simply a friend, but a people's advocate in the White House," declared Webb in Ohio’s Weekly World Communist newspaper. "An era of progressive change is within reach, no longer an idle dream. Just look at the new lay of the land: a friend of labor and its allies sits in the White House," Webb proclaimed. He stated Obama and the "broad coalition that supports him will almost inevitably have to consider, and they already are, the following measures: Public ownership of the financial system and the elimination of the shadow banking system and exotic derivatives. Public control of the Federal Reserve Bank. Trade agreements that have at their core the protection and advancement of international working class interests. Equality in conditions of life for racially minorities and women. Democratic public takeover of the energy complex as well as a readiness to consider the takeover of other basic industries whose future is problematic in private hands. Turning education, and health care into "no profit" zones. Rerouting investment capital from unproductive investment (military, finance and so forth) to productive investment in a green economy and public infrastructure. Changing direction of our nation's foreign policy toward cooperation, disarmament, and diplomacy.
Invites Hamas Terrorists to America
America, by the UN and a fiat of liberal secular humanists, under the guise of diversity and tolerance is being transformed into a multicultural country, a country severed from its Judeo-Christian roots. From 1965 to the present, more than half of all the immigrants to America from the Middle East and Asia have been Muslim with radical ideologies. As the Christian Crusade once went East, and now the Islamic Crusade is going West. With the East, and Asia closed to Christianity, with Africa rapidly becoming converted to Islam, with Europe rapidly becoming un-Christian, generally today it is accepted that the 'Christian' civilization of America – which has propped up the white race around the world – is Christianity's remaining strongest bastion. Well, if this is so – if the so called 'Christianity' now being practiced in America displays the best that the world Christianity has to offer – no one in his right mind should need any much greater proof that very close at hand is the end of Western Christianity. Are you aware that some Protestant theologians, in their writings, are using the phrase to describe our time as the "post-Christian" era?
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 1 THROUGH FEBRUARY 7
Israel to Obama: Hold Iran's Feet to Fire, or ELSE
Feb. 7….(Reuters) Israel will go along with President Barak Obama’s Iran diplomacy, but try to shorten the deadline for results by signaling its willingness to attack Iranian nuclear sites if need be. Israel votes on Tuesday and its next Prime Minister, the front-runner is right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu, is likely to go to Washington within a few months and press Obama to stick to his campaign promise not to let Iran develop an atomic bomb. Aaron David Miller, a former US Middle East negotiator now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the visit would entail a "strategic conversation" with Obama. "It need not be conclusive or threatening, but it will be very serious and scare the daylights out of the president that unless the international community mobilizes to address the situation, the Israelis will," Miller said. Unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama has offered direct talks with Tehran. But he has yet to define his policy, which officials say is under review. He has spoken of tougher sanctions if needed and has not excluded military action. Israelis fret that diplomatic overtures will only give Iran more time to perfect its uranium enrichment program, which the Iranians say is meant to produce electricity, not bombs. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found no proof of Iranian nuclear bomb-making. But the West sees as sinister Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium, an activity it is permitted as a Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called this week for a "strategic agreement" with Washington to ensure that any talks with the Iranians "should be kept short and followed by harsh sanctions and readiness to take action."
And an Israeli legislator and weapons expert, Isaac Ben-Israel, said his country had a year or so to attack Iranian nuclear sites pre-emptively and could do so on its own, even if such strikes would only delay, not destroy, Iran's program. Iranian officials dismiss the chance of a blitz by Israel, assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, but say Iran would retaliate against Israeli and US interests if attacked. "We are not worried about an Israeli attack," Aliakbar Javanfekr, an aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told Reuters last week, adding that "wise people" in the United States and Europe would restrain the Israelis. Any Israeli bombing would unleash more chaos in the Middle East and global oil markets, inevitably entangling the United States and its Gulf Arab allies, and posing ferocious new challenges to US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ali Ansari, an Iran scholar at St Andrews University in Scotland, said an Israeli strike would be catastrophic and that discussion of it aimed at sabotaging any US-Iran dialogue. "It's extraordinarily unlikely. It would completely hamstring the Obama administration," he declared.
Netanyahu: Gaza Offensive Stopped Too Soon
Feb. 6….(Yahoo) The front-runner for Israel's election next week said Israel's offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza last month did not go far enough. Benjamin Netanyahu told a security conference Wednesday the government stopped the operation before the military could halt Hamas arms smuggling through tunnels under Gaza's border with Egypt. He also called for removing Hamas from power, calling it an "extremist fanatic regime backed by the extremist fanatic government of Iran." He stopped short of saying he would attack Gaza again to uproot the regime if he is elected. Israel's three-week offensive on Gaza killed 1,300 people, about half of them civilians, according to Palestinian figures. Israel said it wanted to stop the years of rocket fire from Gaza into the southern part of the country. Rockets fired from Gaza went deeper than ever into Israel during the offensive, leading to concerns that more foreign-made rockets were being smuggled into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt. Hamas forces overran the crowded, impoverished Gaza Strip in June 2007. Polls show that Netanyahu's hawkish Likud Party and its hawkish allies would receive a majority in the new parliament after the Feb. 10 election, giving him the best chance to be named prime minister. Netanyahu warned that any territory Israel relinquishes will be "grabbed by extremists," referring to the possibility of trading West Bank land for peace in a deal with the Palestinians. Such an exchange is the cornerstone of current peace efforts backed by the US and the international community. A year of US-backed negotiations between Israel and the Western-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which rules the West Bank, has produced no apparent progress. Netanyahu said negotiations with the Palestinians should concentrate on economic issues and policing. "That is not a replacement for political negotiations" toward a peace treaty, he said. "It is the only path toward them." Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who helped direct the Israeli assault on Gaza, is slightly behind Netanyahu in the polls. She advocates negotiating a peace treaty with Abbas but has called for stern measures against Hamas if rocket fire continues from Gaza. The other architect of the Gaza offensive, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, is far behind, with some polls showing his center-left Labor Party in fourth place.
United Nations' Threat: Subverting Parental Rights
Feb. 6….(WND) United Nations human rights treaty that could prohibit children from being spanked or homeschooled, ban youngsters from facing the death penalty and forbid parents from deciding their families' religion is on America's doorstep, a legal expert warns. Michael Farris of Purcellville, Va., is president of Parents Rights chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He told WND that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC, every decision a parent makes can be reviewed by the government to determine whether it is in the child's best interest. "It's definitely on our doorstep," he said. "The left wants to make the Obama-Clinton era permanent. Treaties are a way to make it as permanent as stuff gets. It is very difficult to extract yourself from a treaty once you begin it. If they can put all of their left-wing socialist policies into treaty form, we're stuck with it even if they lose the next election." The 1990s-era document was ratified quickly by 193 nations worldwide, but not the United States or Somalia. In Somalia, there was then no recognized government to do the formal recognition, and in the United States there's been opposition to its power. Countries that ratify the treaty are bound to it by international law. Although signed by Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the UN, Feb. 16,1995, the US Senate never ratified the treaty, largely because of conservatives' efforts to point out it would create that list of rights which primarily would be enforced against parents. The international treaty creates specific civil, economic, social, cultural and even economic rights for every child and states that "the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration." While the treaty states that parents or legal guardians "have primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child," Farris said government will ultimately determine whether parents' decisions are in their children's best interest. The treaty is monitored by the CRC, which conceivably has enforcement powers. According to the Parental Rights website, the substance of the CRC dictates the following:
Where the child has a right fulfilled by the government, the responsibilities shift from parents to the government," Farris said. "The implications of all this shifting of responsibilities is that parents no longer have the traditional roles of either being responsible for their children or having the right to direct their children." The government would decide what is in the best interest of a children in every case, and the CRC would be considered superior to state laws, Farris said. Parents could be treated like criminals for making every-day decisions about their children's lives. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of the CRC, and she now has direct control over the treaty's submission to the Senate for ratification. The process requires a two-thirds vote.
Israel Fears Syria Might Help Arm Hizbullah
Feb. 5….(Jerusalem Post) Israel is concerned that Syria will transfer anti-aircraft missiles to Hizbullah in Lebanon while the IDF is preoccupied with the escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip, defense officials said on Tuesday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured the northern border on Tuesday amid a heightened level of alert, stemming from the fear that Hizbullah might carry out an attack to avenge last February's assassination of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. "It is difficult to know ahead of time where the Hizbullah response will come," Barak said. "We are also keeping an eye on the weapons smuggling from Syria to Hizbullah and there are a number of systems that we view as breaking the balance of power that cannot be allowed to be transferred." Israel is specifically concerned that Syria will transfer anti-aircraft systems to Hizbullah. Hizbullah is already believed to have shoulder-to-air missiles and the transfer of additional systems would severely impair the IAF's operational freedom over Lebanon. If these systems are transferred to Hizbullah, Israel would need to "consider its response," Barak said. The Prime Minister's Office's Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a travel advisory this week, warning all Israelis of a potential Hizbullah attack overseas ahead of the one-year anniversary of the assassination on February 12. Barak said that if there was an attack, Israel would hold the Lebanese government responsible. "Hizbullah is not just a terrorist organization running around the hills but also sits at the cabinet table in Beirut," he said. "Therefore, the Lebanese government bears overall responsibility and any attempt to attack Israel will be met with a response."
Israel Sees War With Syria in Near Future
Feb. 5….(Jerusalem Post) Israeli Gen. Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, warned on Tuesday that war with Syria could be just around the corner. Speaking at the ninth annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Gilad said that Israel is "on a collision course with Syria," and urged strong efforts to forge a peace agreement with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Gilad said that Israel and Syria had been closer to all-out war in 2006 than most realize, noting that nearly all of the missiles fired by Hizballah at northern Israel during the Second Lebanon War had been provided by Damascus. He went on to caution that in the next round of fighting along Israel's northern border, Hizballah and perhaps even Syrian forces are likely to use much longer-range missiles capable of hitting Israel's densely-populated Tel Aviv area. Were Syria to acquire nuclear weapons, the situation would quickly spiral out of control, Gilad concluded.
Is America Really a 'Muslim Nation Now'?
Feb. 5….(WND) Judge Roy Moore says claim made by Obama
denigrates Christian faith
The United States Supreme Court, in the 1892 case of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, recognized this as a Christian nation and as late as 1931 and 1946 the United States Supreme Court observed that religious liberty is a gift of God. As President Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president, said in his Inaugural Address Jan. 20, 1949: The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have the right to freedom of thought and expression. We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God. From this faith we will not be moved. To state that this is a Muslim nation, a Hindu nation, or a nation of nonbelievers is to deny that God is the grantor of religious freedom. It is also a denigration of the Christian faith to just another religion. The many conflicts around the globe between the Muslim faith and the Christian faith (Sudan, Lebanon, Crete), between the Muslim faith and the Jewish faith (Gaza, Palestine), between the Muslim faith and the Buddhist faith (Thailand, Afghanistan), between the Muslim faith and the Hindu faith (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) and others should send a clear signal to anyone (even the president of the United States) that the Muslim faith recognizes no other god but Allah and will tolerate no other faith but their own. I thank God that we are not a Muslim nation, but a Christian nation that acknowledges the God Who gives religious freedom to all people according to the dictates of their conscience. That is why Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and non-believers can practice what they choose in America. In a Muslim state, that is not the case. Frankly, I'm not very interested in "rebooting America's image." Our power, prosperity and precious freedom exist because we are and have been a Christian nation that is open to people of all faiths. And as President Truman said, we will not be moved from our faith. We believe in doing what is right, and taking a strong stand for freedom and against tyranny. If President Barack Hussein Obama believes that, "whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation," he refutes history, logic and the United States Supreme Court. If he wants to soothe the feelings of al-Qaida by saying that we are "a Muslim nation" he is more naïve and dangerous than I once thought.
IDF Amos Gilad: We're on Collision Course with Syria
Feb. 5….(JPOST) A military confrontation with Syria is likely to occur in the near future, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, who heads the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, warned on Tuesday. Head of the Defense Ministry's Political-Military Bureau, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad. Such a clash almost occurred in the summer of 2006, and Israel was now close to returning to that point, he said. "We're on a collision course with Syria," Gilad told the ninth annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. "We need to try and reach a peace agreement with Syria," he said, warning that if Israel failed to do so, "there will be rockets in large numbers targeting Tel Aviv." Israel should not place its faith in the fact that the Syrian border has been quiet since the end of the Yom Kippur War, he went on. Damascus has continued to support Israel's enemies and to send them weapons. The missiles that hit Israel during the summer of 2006 were from Syria, not Iran, he noted. "In the space of two years, we could face a hostile entity on our eastern border, from a nuclear Iran through Syria and down to Hizbullah and Hamas," Gilad said. What if Damascus were to acquire nuclear weapons? he asked, stressing that despite what people might be saying, Syria was not weak. One had to ask whether Israel truly had a military response to the full extent of the Syrian support of terrorism, without which the region would look different, he said. Israel would have little to gain in a war with Damascus, which could cause the fall of President Bashar Assad's regime, he said. Should this occur, "there might be more extreme forces coming to power in Syria," and Assad could be replaced by a Sunni regime that would join other radical regimes in the region. "This would put us in a far more difficult situation," Gilad said. "If I'm right, we need to exhaust all avenues of reaching a potential peace with Syria," he continued, noting that in light of the split between Hamas and Fatah and the inability to make peace with all of the Palestinians at this time, it would be easier to come to an agreement with Syria. As part of a peace agreement, Israel could demand that it sever its ties to Iran, which would stop the delivery of weapons to Hizbullah, Gilad suggested. It was hard to imagine how Hizbullah could thrive without these weapons, he said. Terrorist groups such as Hamas would have to leave Damascus.
Iran's Launches Nuclear Bomb-Capable Rocket
Feb. 4….(DEBKAfile Special Report) The launch of Omid (Hope), Iran's first home-made satellite into orbit early Tuesday, Feb. 3, is a breakthrough demonstrating the Islamic Republic has managed to develop long-range, three-stage, solid-fuel ballistic rockets capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Israel and Western officials have been playing down this fast-developing capability while proving helpless to hold back Iran's nuclear weapons program. Omid was launched by the Safir rocket, whereas a previous launching was boosted by a Russian rocket. DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report the new satellite is designed for tracking, research, telecommunications and carries digital measuring instruments. They stress that it is a feather in the hat for Iran's "Military Group," the team of scientists and technicians working on its clandestine nuclear bomb program. They are clearly moving ahead undisturbed by UN sanctions or technical difficulties toward rapidly finishing work on nuclear warheads for their ballistic rockets. In weekend interviews, International Atomic Energy Agency director Muhammad ElBaradei contributed to the international effort to talk down Tehran's nuclear advances. He admitted Iran was in the process of constructing nuclear weapons despite his agency's monitoring efforts. But in his view it needed another two to five years to attain this objective. He therefore advised the West to try and negotiate an accord with Iran through diplomacy. Our sources point out that ElBaradei's remarks were misleading. His remarks referred only to Iran's overt nuclear program, namely uranium enrichment, but ignored the clandestine facilities where Iran is making big strides toward a nuclear weapon.
Is Groundwork for 'Global Governance' Being Laid?
Feb. 4….(Politics and Government) United Nations watchdog is concerned about the agenda of the recent World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. According to Cliff Kincaid, president of America’s survival, recently confirmed US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is being urged to lay the foundation for "global governance" by considering "international taxation" measures to loot more money from US taxpayers. Kincaid says the idea of a global IRS was included in the report The Global Agenda 2009, which was discussed at the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos. "Most Americans have lost thousands and thousands of dollars, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars, because of the destruction of their retirement accounts and personal savings," notes Kincaid. "And yet on top of that we've got these global players in Davos talking about global taxes? A global IRS?" he wonders. "Maybe Geithner is going to run that, too. These things are being discussed out in the open at these global meetings." Kincaid points out that The Global Agenda 2009 report argues "sovereign states do not adequately address problems reaching across borders" and that "international taxation" may be needed to generate "the additional resources" for global governance.
Hamas Leader Meshaal Praises Iran for Help in Gaza Fight
('Iran has definitely played a big role in the victory of the people of Gaza,' Mashaal tells Ahmadinejad, who says Israel could be plotting another invasion)
Feb. 3….(WND) Hamas' exiled leader thanked his Iranian backers, saying Tehran played a "big role" in helping the Palestinian militant group during Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, Iranian state television reported Monday. The "people of Gaza have always appreciated the political and spiritual support of the Iranian leaders and nation," state TV quoted Mashaal as saying. Ahmadinejad warned that Israel could be plotting another invasion on Gaza and urged countries to boycott Israeli goods. The hard-line Iranian leader also reiterated his earlier calls that Israeli leaders be taken to court for the Gaza offensive, although it wasn't clear what court he had in mind and no other details were provided. "World political pressure should continue against the Zionist regime," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying. Later Monday, Mashaal received a warm welcome by hundreds of Iranians at a ceremony at Tehran University. The crowd praised Mashaal by chanting "hail to the soldier of holy war." Mashaal heads Hamas' political bureau and is believed to be the group's top leader. He is considered a hard-liner who consults frequently with Syrian and Iranian officials. The exiled political leader rarely travels and usually keeps his movements secretive. But before Iran, Mashaal visited Qatar to thank officials in the Gulf Arab country for their support of Hamas during the offensive.
Iran Marks Revolution Anniversary, Wishes Death to Israel
('Revolution alive after 30 years,' Ahmadinejad says at Islamic Revolution anniversary celebration at Khomeini's grave)
Feb. 3….(YNET) Iran celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution on Saturday. Various Iranian leaders visited the grave of Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, the leader of the revolution and usurper of the US-backed Shah. "The revolution is lively and alive after 30 years," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a ceremony marking the event. "We are still at the beginning of the path and greater changes are ahead. This thunderous revolution will continue until justice is implemented. "Although the Islamic revolution happened in Iran it is not limited to Iranian borders," he added. Crowds chanted "Death to America! Death to Israel!" at the ceremony at Khomeini's mausoleum in southern Tehran also attended by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, government ministers and military commanders. The ceremony was once again rife with anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment, and various speakers stressed Iran's support for the Palestinian people. Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the "Gazans and Hizbullah were able to defeat the army of the Zionist regime because of the effective influence of Iran." The revolutionary leader's grandson Hassan Khomeini said, "Because of Islam we saw victory in Gaza and Lebanon. Iranians are proud because Khomeini was the flag bearer of this Islamic awakening worldwide."
'A Sane Country Doesn't Give its Capital to its Enemies'
Feb. 3….(Jerusalem Post) Likud chair Binyamin Netanyahu toured the Mount of Olives on Monday afternoon, and promised to keep Jerusalem united if he should win the February 10 election. Netanyahu's advisers said he came to the controversial site in the capital in order to bring attention to reports that his main competition, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, had agreed to give up portions of the city in negotiations over the past 14 months with her Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reportedly told US Middle East mediator George Mitchell last week that Livni had agreed to divide the city. "We did not return to Jerusalem after praying for it to be rebuilt for 2000 years in order to give it up," Netanyahu told a throng of reporters from around the world at the City of David. "We did not unite the city in order to divide it, and my government will maintain a united Jerusalem. A sane country does not give its capital to its enemies."
Feb. 3….(Arutz) Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the US and now running for the Israeli parliament on the Israel Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) ticket, said he does not agree with the harsh policies against Christian volunteers living in the Holy Land. "We should be more open to our Christian brothers,” Ayalon told Israel Today. "Israel Beiteinu will push for making relations between Christians and Jews and Israelis much closer, much stronger." Many Christian volunteers are now subject to tighter visa rules, and many have been told to leave the country with just two-weeks notice. The sudden enforcement of an old rule on the books has slashed the staffs at Christian outreaches in Israel by up to 50 percent over the past six months. Ayalon said Israel should recognize Christian Zionists as some of the best friends of the Jewish state. Israel Beiteinu stands to pick up several seats in the upcoming elections. The right-wing party has gained momentum with the addition of well known politicians like Ayalon and conservative Uzi Landau, who defected from Likud. "I want to zero in on what distinguishes us from the other parties and why we are becoming so popular," Ayalon said at a debate on Sunday with members of the four top parties. "We believe Israel should be a normal country. (We want to) resume normalcy, and become a country like every other country." "Normalcy" would require a loyalty test to the State of Israel as a Jewish state. Ever since party leader Avigdor Lieberman proposed a "loyalty test" for citizens, presuming many Israeli Arabs and Arabs who don’t have citizenship in Israel would not side with the Jewish state - the party has been labeled as racist. Ayalon, however, compared the situation in Israel to Spain, where the high court ruled that parties opposed to Spain itself could not run in national elections. "We want the same yardstick here," Ayalon said referring to the Arab parties who are represented in the Knesset yet oppose Israel and work with the Palestinian regime. Israeli elections are scheduled to take place on February 10.
The Coming Liberal Welfare State: Public Spending Cradle to Grave
Feb. 3….(Newsmax) Economists and pundits are beginning to sound alarms that the US economy is perilously close to a “tipping point,” where so many voters will be on the public payroll it will be politically impossible to reign in entitlement programs. The trillion-plus Obama stimulus program, they warn, could push the economy over the brink. Already, 40 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes. Obama’s stimulus gives non-taxpayers up to $1,600, money they did not pay, in the form of a tax credit. Putting millions more workers on the entitlement roles, either through universal health insurance or the expanded SCHIP health program, will further diminish support for future free-market reforms to make the US, economy more competitive, conservative economists warn. Free-market economists point to failed welfare-state experiments in England, France, and Germany, and now openly say America could be headed down the same rocky road. “The economic tides will not stand still while Washington experiments with European-type social democracy, even though the dollar's role as the global reserve currency will buy some time. Our trademark competitive advantage will be lost, and once lost, it will be hard to regain,” Carnegie-Mellon professor of economics Adam Lerrick warned in The Wall Street Journal. And that Lerrick’s warning was written before the election and the whopping $1.2 trillion stimulus proposal. Lerrick added ominously, “Tomorrow's children may come to question why their parents sold their birthright for a mess of ‘fairness,’ whatever that will signify when jobs are scarce and American opportunity is no longer the envy of the world.” Columnist and economist Thomas Sowell is voicing similar concerns, stating in a recent column: “This administration and Congress are now in a position to do what Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, use a crisis of the times to create new institutions that will last for generations.
Obama has Already Begun Discreet Talks with Iran, Syria
Feb. 3….(Newsmax) US President Barack Obama has already used experts within the last few months to hold high-level but discreet talks with both Iran and Syria, organizers of the meetings told AFP. Officially, Obama's overtures toward both Tehran and Damascus have remained limited. In an interview broadcast Monday, Obama said the United States would offer arch-foe Iran an extended hand of diplomacy if the Islamic Republic's leaders "unclenched their fist." Meanwhile, his secretary of state Hillary Clinton warned that the Israeli-Syrian track of the Middle East peace negotiations took a back seat to the Israeli-Palestinian track, especially because of the recent war in Gaza. However, even before winning the November 4 election, Obama unofficially used what experts call "track two" discussions to approach America's two foes in the region. Nuclear non-proliferation experts had several "very, very high-level" contacts in the last few months with Iranian leaders. Former defense secretary William Perry, who served in Obama's election campaign, participated in some of these meetings focused on "a wide range of issues that separate Iran from the West: not only their nuclear program but the Middle East peace process, Persian Gulf issues," Boutwell told AFP. Meanwhile, a group of experts under the auspices of the think tank, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), announced Thursday that they met for more than two hours in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian president himself revealed on Monday that "dialogue started some weeks ago in a serious manner through personalities who are close to the administration and who were dispatched by the administration." The United States accuses Syria of supporting "terrorist" groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, of destabilizing Lebanon and of allowing armed men to transit its territory to fight US-led forces in Iraq.
Meshaal Urges Iranian Students to join Islamist Liberation of all Palestine
Feb. 3….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) On the third day of his talks with Iranian leaders in Tehran, Hamas' supreme leader Khaled Meshaal urged Iranian students to join his Islamist movement in helping liberate all of Palestine, secure the return of all Palestinians and retake Jerusalem so that "we can pray together." He was addressing students to the University of Tehran after briefings from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on how to respond to the Egyptian initiative for a long-term truce in the Gaza Strip. Tehran's aggressive line ensured that the talks Hamas representatives are holding in Cairo will stall and the missiles will keep coming from Gaza against Israel. DEBKAfile's Iranian sources disclose the three topics uppermost in Meshaal's talks with Iranian leaders:
1. Tehran's decision about playing tough in Middle East, including Gaza, depends on the prospect of direct talks with the Obama administration in Washington. Iranian leaders have so far taken a harsh line toward the new administration in an effort to dictate the ground rules ahead of any dialogue, so it is hard to believe they will turn soft on Gaza.
2. Iranian-Egyptian relations have never been so adversarial. Tehran will therefore be loath to grant president Hosni Mubarak advantages on the Palestinian playing field.
3. Tehran must hurry up and pump military and economic assistance into the Gaza Strip to shore up Hamas' rule. A delay carries the risk of the Palestinian Islamists turning to Cairo and Riyadh to earn the proffered Saudi-Egyptian aid package for reconstructing the ruined territory. Most urgently, Hamas needs large amounts of cash to stay afloat. So if Meshaal comes away from his talks in Tehran with pledges of funds and arms, he will almost certainly instruct the Hamas delegation to ditch the Egyptians and their proposals.
The Israeli defense minster Ehud Barak will then lose out on his tactic of gambling on an Egyptian success.
British PM: Time For A New World Order
British Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has denounced the unfettered capitalism of the past three decades and called for a new era of “social capitalism” in which government intervention and regulation feature heavily.
(“And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.”) (Dan 2:43)
Feb. 2….(In The Days) In an essay to be published next week, the Prime Minister is scathing of the neo-liberals who began refashioning the market system in the 1970s, and ultimately brought about the global financial crisis. “The time has come, off the back of the current crisis, to proclaim that the great neo-liberal experiment of the past 30 years has failed, that the emperor has no clothes,” he writes of those who placed their faith in the corrective powers of the market. “Neo-liberalism and the free-market fundamentalism it has produced has been revealed as little more than personal greed dressed up as an economic philosophy. And, ironically, it now falls to social democracy to prevent liberal capitalism from cannibalizing itself.” Rudd writes in The Monthly that just as Franklin Roosevelt rebuilt US capitalism after the Great Depression, modern-day “social democrats” such as himself and the US President, Barack Obama, must do the same again. But he argues that “minor tweakings of long-established orthodoxies will not do” and advocates a new system that reaches beyond the 70-year-old interventionist principles of John Maynard Keynes. “A system of open markets, unambiguously regulated by an activist state, and one in which the state intervenes to reduce the greater inequalities that competitive markets will inevitably generate,” he writes. He urges “a new contract for the future that eschews the extremism of both the left and right”. He mocks neo-liberals “who now find themselves tied in ideological knots in being forced to rely on the state they fundamentally despise to save financial markets from collapse”. He advocates tighter regulation and policing of global finances, and identifies the immediate challenge as restoring global growth by 3 per cent of gross domestic product, the amount it is expected to fall in 2009. Next week, as Parliament resumes, his Government will chip in with a second economic stimulus package. Rudd commits to keeping budgets in surplus “over the cycle”, meaning deficits should be temporary. In a further sign the Government is not contemplating additional tax cuts, which would deliver a permanent hit to revenue, he stresses that stimulus measures have to be paid for when the economy recovers. Rudd singles out Thatcherism as a culprit, as well as the former Howard government. His essay implicitly attacks the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, who this week urged the free market be allowed to dictate commercial property values as he slammed a Government measure to prop them up. Rudd’s essay follows the blast Obama gave Wall Street bankers yesterday for awarding themselves $28 billion in bonuses last year at the same time as they were being bailed out by taxpayers. In a message to Obama and the US Congress, Rudd counseled against erecting trade barriers. “Soft or hard, protectionism is a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression as it exacerbates the collapse in global demand.” The message was reinforced in Davos yesterday when the Trade Minister, Simon Crean, described the “buy American” provisions of the new Obama stimulus package as “very worrying”. “On the face of it, it looks like it contravenes commitments made to the World Trade Organization,” he said.
Hamas Leaders Meet Iranian Leaders as Rockets are Fired into Israel
Feb. 2….(IsraelNN.com) A delegation of senior Hamas terrorists headed by Khaled Maashal, the group's Damascus-based political bureau chief, arrived early Sunday morning in Tehran for talks with Iran's top spiritual leader, according to Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq. The delegation will meet with Ayatollah Ali Khomeini and with President Mahmoud held up in Ahmadinejad, the Hamas official told the Reuters news agency. Hamas was closely connected with Iran and Syria during the IDF’s Operation ‘Cast Lead.’ Iran has been a main funder of the terrorist group, and has smuggled weapons into Gaza. The Islamic Republic has also vowed to replenish the group's depleted supply of missiles following its recent war with Israel. An Iranian supply ship is currently being held up in Cyprus on suspicion of trying to deliver weapons to Gaza after arms were discovered on board during a search of the vessel last week at the entrance to the Suez Canal by American naval personnel. The terrorist organization has stated that it would intensify its efforts to lift Israel’s blockade on the Gaza coast, which Egypt has assisted. Although Israel will not directly negotiate with Hamas since it does not want to legitimize the terrorist organization, ongoing negotiations have been brokered via Egypt. Hamas considers Israel’s blockade, which it claims damages Gaza’s economy, as a form of collective punishment against the Arab residents of Gaza. The group cites the blockade as one of its reasons for not renewing the ceasefire agreement with Israel in December, which prompted the Gaza war. Israel, however, states that the passageways into Gaza have been used by the Hamas to stock up with weapons, including long-range rockets, which have been fired into Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva.
Abbas: Hamas Must Accept My Authority
Feb. 2….(Jerusalem Post) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he will not hold reconciliation talks with the rival Hamas group unless it accepts his authority, lowering chances the two sides will work out their differences any time soon. Egypt has been pushing for reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions, which could be a key step in opening the Gaza Strip's borders and producing a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel. But the exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, directly challenged the PA president's power Wednesday, saying the group of Palestinian factions led by Abbas - known as the PLO, "in its current state is no authority." "It expresses a state of impotence, abuse and a tool to deepen divisions," Mashaal told a rally organized in the Qatari capital of Doha. The PLO is the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinians and is dominated by Abbas' Fatah faction. Hamas has refused to join the PLO, and Mashaal said Wednesday he was working to create an alternative structure to include all Palestinians. "I say clearly there will be no dialogue with those who reject the PLO," Abbas said at a Palestinian gathering in Cairo. "Hamas must recognize in no hidden terms and without vagueness that the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, then there can be dialogue." He called the attempt to replace the PLO with a new organization a "destructive" project. Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Redeineh said Hamas officials "have to recognize the PLO as the sole representative, with all its commitments and its obligations." That includes committing to Israeli-Palestinian peace and a two-state solution, which Hamas has rejected. The rivalry between the two sides deepened after Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza from Fatah in 2007. Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said Abbas' statement "aborts all Palestinian, Egyptian and Arab efforts aiming to make a Palestinian national dialogue a success." We hold (Abbas) totally responsible for the repercussions of these statements, which deepen the internal rift," said Barhoum in a statement e-mailed to reporters. Hamas and Fatah have disagreed about power sharing within the Palestinian territories and relations with Israel. But Abbas has not previously demanded that Hamas recognize the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people as a precondition for reconciliation talks.
Hamas' Meshaal arrives in Tehran – To Discuss Ceasefire
Feb. 2….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) Hamas is nowhere near signing off on Egypt's proposals for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza on Feb. 5, as claimed in a flurry of Arab media reports Sunday, Feb. 1, DEBKAfile's Middle East sources report. A large Hamas delegation from Damascus headed by Khaled Meshaal landed in Tehran Sunday for separate briefings from supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on how to respond to the Egyptian initiative. He will also receive instructions on tactics for the coming months. There is no end in sight therefore to the current standoff whereby Hamas ignores its own ceasefire by daily missile and shooting attacks into Israel. At Israel's weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, prime minister Ehud Olmert threatened a "disproportionate response" to the ongoing attacks, while defense minister Ehud Barak indicated he preferred to mark time. DEBKAfile's Iranian sources disclose the three topics uppermost in Meshaal's talks with Iranian leaders:
1. Tehran will decide whether or not to play tough in Middle East, including Gaza, depending on the prospect of direct talks with the Obama administration in Washington. Iranian leaders have so far taken a harsh line toward the new administration in an effort to dictate the ground rules ahead of any dialogue, so it is hard to believe they will turn soft on Gaza.
2. Iranian-Egyptian relations have never been so adversarial. Tehran will therefore be loath to grant president Hosni Mubarak advantages on the Palestinian playing field.
3. Tehran must hurry up and pump military and economic assistance into the Gaza Strip to shore up Hamas' rule. A delay carries the risk of the Palestinian Islamists turning to Cairo and Riyadh to earn the proffered Saudi-Egyptian aid package for reconstructing the ruined territory. Most urgently, Hamas needs large amounts of cash to stay afloat.
So if Meshaal comes away from his talks in Tehran with pledges of funds and arms, he will almost certainly instruct the Hamas delegation to ditch the Egyptians and their proposals. The Israeli defense minister will then lose out on his tactic of gambling on an Egyptian success.
Our Iranian sources stress that Tehran does not make decisions of this magnitude without due consideration. Meshaal will therefore have to cool his heels while waiting for answers. His appointment book includes a lecture at Tehran University on Feb. 2, and attendance at a session of the Iranian parliament (majlis) the next day. While Hamas waits for Iranian leaders to decide, Cairo may stage a face-saving unilateral ceasefire on Feb. 5, although it is more likely that Hamas will opt to continue firing missiles, in which case Olmert's line will prevail over that of Barak and the IDF will be sent back into Gaza.