WEEK OF JULY 25 THROUGH JULY 31
Arab League Endorses Direct Israel-PA Talks
July 30….(YNET) Arab officials convening in Cairo began crucial talks with Palestinian President Abbas on Thursday to decide whether he will begin direct negotiations with Israel amid pressure from the United States. Qatar's foreign minister said the Arab League has agreed in principle to direct Palestinian talks with Israel. In his speech, Abbas told 13 foreign ministers from Arab countries representing the Arab League that he would not agree to direct talks without a guarantee for a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 war borders and an end to all settlement activity. Asked if the league would back direct talks, Hamad ibn Jassem said: "Of course, there is agreement, but agreement over the principles of what will be discussed and the manner of the direct negotiations." It would be up to Abbas to decide whether to hold talks, based on whatever conditions he sees fit, Jassem said. The official Egyptian news agency MENA quoted the Palestinian leader as saying ahead of the meeting, "When I receive the demanded guarantees, which are the acceptance of the 1967 borders and an end to settlements, I will immediately enter negotiations." Egypt said Wednesday it has received US assurances that may help in restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. Abbas also told the Arab League he was facing "pressures I have never faced before in my life from the American administration and the European Union and the secretary general of the United Nations," adding that he would step down if he saw "matters are not going well." The Palestinian president has so far accepted holding only indirect talks with Israel, which has rejected his conditions for face-to-face negotiations. Arab League official Hisham Yussef, who heads Secretary General Amr Mussa's office, told AFP Thursday, "The issue is not US pressure, the issue is what is in the Palestinians' interests." "Their interest from their perspective is clear, they want to see progress in the proximity talks and we support them," he said. On the eve of the Arab League meeting, Egypt said it had received US assurances that may help in restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad did not disclose details of the US assurances, but said that Obama has committed to exerting efforts toward direct peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel. He said President Hosni Mubarak has received a letter from Obama, followed by calls from Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, all signaling a US commitment to establish a Palestinian state. "These are all indications which we hope are pursued and yield Arab and international consensus to launch direct peace talks with a time table and clear terms of reference," Awwad said. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said he is willing to meet Abbas to discuss all the core issues of the decades-old conflict, and has accused the Palestinians of avoiding engaging in direct talks. On Monday Netanyahu told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "There is an obvious Palestinian attempt to evade direct negotiations. As far as we are concerned, we are ready to start direct negotiations as early as next week." Abbas suspended direct negotiations with Israel after its offensive on the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in December 2008 in response to rocket fire. He has demanded that the talks pick up from where he left off with then prime minister Ehud Olmert, a condition rejected by Netanyahu's government
Philistine Temple Ruins Uncovered in Goliath's Hometown
July 30….(Arutz) Bar Ilan University archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of a Philistine temple in the ancient city of Gath, home of the Biblical Goliath, buried in one of the largest tels (ancient ruin mounds) in Israel. The temple and a number of ritual items dating back to the 10th century BCE were discovered at Tel Tsafit (Tell es-Safit/Gath) by Professor Aren Maeir of BIU's Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology and his international team. The tel is located about halfway between Ashkelon and Jerusalem, near Kiryat Gat along the southern coastal plain. “Interestingly, the architectural design of this temple, with its two central pillars, is reminiscent of the architectural image that is described in the well-known Biblical story of Samson and the Philistines,” Maeir said. He added that the discovery could indicate that the story of Samson reflects a type of temple that was in use in Philistia at the time. He also said that his team had found impressive evidence of an earthquake in the 8th century BCE, reminiscent of the earthquake mentioned in the Book of Amos 1:1. The team uncovered walls that were moved from their place and collapsed like a deck of cards as a result of the powerful earthquake, assessed at a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale. In addition, Maeir said, the summer's excavations have uncovered further evidence of the destruction of the city by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus, around 830 BC, as mentioned in Kings II 12:18, as well as evidence of the first Philistine settlement in Canaan (around 1200 BC).
Putin’s War on Israel
July 30….(Frontpage) Now that another Middle East war seems imminent, concerns are growing about the new powerful weapons that are available to Palestinian terrorists. It appears to be virtually unknown that these weapons are being steadily supplied by Putin’s Russia. In the present atmosphere of the everlasting “reset” of relations between the US and Russia, it is not difficult for the Kremlin to camouflage its arming of terrorists. Indeed, the world is willing to turn a blind eye. This month, for instance, Russia announced it was making another gift to the “Palestinian security forces” on the West Bank: 50 armored vehicles. According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry earlier this month, the gift was already in Jordan and about to be passed on to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). It was President Medvedev who made this decision which, the Kremlin says, will help the development of a Palestinian statehood. The Russian spokesmen made much of the fact that the actual weapons had been removed from the vehicles. However, this does not make them as harmless as Moscow hoped to suggest. Not long before, Israel saw a wave of so-called “bulldozer terrorist attacks.” Palestinians hijacked bulldozers working on Jerusalem construction sites and went to the city streets ramming buses and cars. The terrorists were from the West Bank or East Jerusalem. Some observers at the time described those attacks as evidence of Israeli success in the war against terrorism. Suicide bombers, they pointed out, couldn’t penetrate Israel’s borders and the bulldozers were their last resort. And the “bulldozer terrorists” left far less dead and wounded than usual “martyrs,” even though the figures are of little comfort to the victims. Owing to Russia’s generosity, the terrorists are getting a new chance for success as now they will be able to hijack armored vehicles. The kill potential of these vehicles is by no means less than of bulldozers; their maneuver capability and speed are better and they can bypass Israeli checkpoints on rolling terrain or simply ram into border crossings, which are not impenetrable fortresses. Officially, like the US and many other countries, Russia supports the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank led by Mahmoud Abbas, not Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It’s difficult to say why anybody would consider Abbas and his Fatah Party, founded by Yasser Arafat, a partner to make business with. Arafat was the Godfather of terror and within almost six years after his death, Fatah has never distanced itself from the founding father’s ideas. However, in line with the custom to look for “hawks” and “doves” everywhere, while Fatah’s twin brother Hamas is internationally called a “radical movement,” Fatah is considered to be “moderate.” Still, Russia’s relations with Hamas blossom just as well. The Hamas leaders are received at the highest levels in Moscow and at popular sea resorts like Sochi. In January, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin told the Security Council that the purpose of Moscow’s contacts with Hamas was to persuade its leaders to take steps towards Palestinian reunification. Without unity on the platform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) it is very difficult to create the Palestinian state, he stressed. Churkin also explained that Moscow worked with all Palestinian sides in order to train officers for the Palestinian security forces, as well as to give Palestinians government scholarships in order to educate them in Russian universities. Admittedly, the education Russia is providing to the Palestinians is certainly working, as demonstrated, for example, by the recent success of “Palestinian engineers from Gaza” who managed to produce home-made rockets of longer range to shell Israeli cities. Russia’s education of Palestinians can truly work wonders.
Proposal for One-State Solution Gains Favor Among Israelis and Palestinians
(The idea of a single state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem is gaining renewed currency with a twist: this time around the proposition is supported not only by Palestinians but also by Israeli right-wingers)
July 30….(Deutsch Welle) Analysts say debate in Israel as well as among Palestinians about a new approach to Middle East peace involving a one-state solution reflects a sense on both sides of the Arab-Israeli divide that US-sponsored efforts to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel are likely to fail.
Even though support for a one-state solution is by no stretch of the imagination universally accepted among the Israeli right, it also signals a realization that Israel is increasingly paying a heavy diplomatic and political price for the stalemate in the negotiations and needs to produce fresh ideas. Growing support for a one-state solution was likely to figure in deliberations on Thursday at an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo. The participants agreed in principle to direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, however officials said the timing and conditions would be left up to Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to decide. In the past he has maintained that such talks can only be revived once Israel agrees to an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and in Gaza that includes East Jerusalem and a halt to further settlement activity. Abbas has said he would support a one-state solution if indirect Israeli-Palestinians talks under the auspices of US special envoy George Mitchell fail to bring about an independent state. The US and Israeli demands are supported by the European Union. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met Abbas in Amman on Tuesday to persuade him to move from the proximity talks to direct negotiations. Palestinian officials say the US has exerted considerable pressure on Abbas to accept renewed direct negotiations, warning that his refusal could prompt President Barack Obama to disengage from the peace process. The officials said Mitchell had cautioned that this would mean that the US would have less leverage in persuading Israel to halt its settlement activity. "Abbas is caught between a rock and a hard place. Engaging in direct talks with Israel without significant Israeli gestures could amount to political suicide," one official said. Analysts say the US pressure poses a problem not only for Abbas but also for Arab leaders. Moderate Arab leaders, they say, may instinctively feel that the revival of the notion of a one-state solution, first floated in the 1980s by moderate Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh, who argued that Palestinians by accepting Israeli citizenship would ultimately have a demographic majority in the Israeli state because of their higher birth rate - would in the long run produce a more favorable result for the Palestinians. That instinct, however, is likely to be offset by worries about the impact a breakdown in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process may have on US-Arab relations at a time that concern, particularly in the Gulf, is mounting about Iran's nuclear ambitions. "While welcoming any opportunity for real negotiations, we should remain skeptical of short-term expectations presented as potential breakthroughs, but that end up being little more than delaying or diversionary tactics, cruel mirages in the desert. The emphasis on the need to shift to direct talks, and to transcend the proximity talks now taking place, represents the triumph of procedure over substance," says prominent Jordanian-Palestinian commentator Rami Khouri. Privately, Arab and Palestinian officials concede that little is likely to change in extended indirect talks, but they express hope that the Obama administration, not wanting to admit failure, may as yet pressure Israel to at least halt the settlements. Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Hannah Amireh said Arab leaders would back a proposal put forward by Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to ask that the proximity talks be extended until early September. "There is a consensus that the Palestinian Authority should not enter into direct talks until Israel commits to a halt in settlement construction and provocations in Jerusalem and abides by international law," Amireh said.
One state or no state?
Proponents of a two-state solution warn that without tangible progress in the peace talks, the window of opportunity for creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel will close, leaving the one-state solution as the only option remaining on the table - an option they caution bears in it the seeds for future conflict with Palestinians, demanding once they achieve a demographic minority that the state be secular rather than Jewish in character. "The (Israeli) right is not talking about a neutral ‘state of all its citizens' with no identity, nor about ‘Israstine' with a flag showing a crescent and a Shield of David," says Noam Sheizaf, a journalist for the liberal Israeli daily Ha'aretz, who has written extensively about the debate in Israel. "As envisaged by the right wing, one state still means a sovereign Jewish state, but in a more complex reality, and inspired by the vision of a democratic Jewish state without an occupation and without apartheid, without fences and separations," he added. In recent statements and articles former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens and Knesseth speaker Reuven Rivlin have advocated making Israel and Palestine one state by legally incorporating the West Bank into Israel. "We are already a bi-national state and also a multicultural and multi-sector state. The minorities (Arabs) here make up 20 percent of the population, that's a fact and you can't argue with facts," Arens said in a recent article he penned for Ha'aretz. "Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria would not be the end of the state of Israel, nor would it mean the end of democratic governance in Israel. It would, however, pose a serious challenge to Israeli society. But that is equally true for the other options being suggested for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he added. Palestinians agree. A recent Palestinian poll revealed that more than half of the Palestinians endorse the Arens proposal, even though it involved only the West Bank, leaving the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million Palestinians to fend for themselves. Emily Amrousi, a former spokesperson for the settlers, has taken the idea one step further by participating in meetings between settlers and Palestinians to discuss a one-state solution "in which the children of settlers and the children of Palestinians will be bused to school together." Amrousi and other settler leaders admit that their endorsement of the one-state solution does not constitute a change of heart but another way of securing continued control of the West Bank. "If every path seems to reach an impasse, usually the right path is one that was never even considered, the one that is universally acknowledged to be unacceptable, taboo," said Uri Elitzur, another former settler leader.
Peres Warns No Direct talks Will Lead to 'Storm'
July 29….(YNET) President Shimon Peres met with Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos Wednesday, and asked him to pressure the Palestinians to engage in direct negotiations with Israel. Peres warned Moratinos that, "if we don't move on to direct talks, we will find ourselves in the eye of the storm in September." "Time is short, and you have the power to reinvigorate the peace process by applying pressure that can lead to the launching of direct talks. I ask that you implore the Palestinians not to miss the opportunity that has been created," the president said. Moratinos agreed with Peres, and told him that the proximity talks had helped to create a good atmosphere between the sides, but that it was now time to move on to direct talks. He added that his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had given him a reason "to be optimistic" about this. Peres also commended Moratinos on the new sanctions imposed on Iran's nuclear program by the EU. "You made a responsible decision," he told him. "Europe must protect itself. If I were Russian, French, or Spanish I would not be sleeping well at night." On the other side of the issue of direct talks are Hamas and eight other terror organizations, which called earlier Wednesday on Abbas not to renew peace talks with Israel. They claimed it would "legitimize the aggressive Israeli policy, the construction in settlements, and the siege on Gaza".
Iran’s Proxy Powder Keg
July 29….(Frontpage) July 12, 2010 marked the fourth anniversary of Israel’s Second Lebanon War. In the intervening years, Hezbollah has made significant political and military gains in Lebanon. The rise in the paramilitary terrorist organization is likely due to three key factors: to Israel’s failure in 2006 to completely destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure, the perceived weakness of the Obama administration as a result of its appeasement of Iran and Syria, and the failure of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to implement UN resolution 1701. The war came about as a result of continuous provocations against Israel by Hezbollah, which culminated on July 12, 2006 when a squad of Lebanese-Shiite Hezbollah terrorists, funded and directed by Iran, crossed the Israeli border and ambushed two Israeli Defense Force patrol jeeps. Amidst the fray, roadside explosives were detonated and eight Israeli soldiers were killed. During that same raid, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli reservists: Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whom they either murdered or denied medical care. Simultaneously, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets at northern Israel communities. Iran continues to use the Lebanese arena as a military lever against Israel, one which threatens to explode in a third war, albeit, a more all-engulfing regional conflict. To divert attention from the Iranian Islamic Republic’s rejection of Western demands that Iran negotiate an alternate to its uranium enrichment, Iran ordered Hezbollah terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers. CNN reported on June 5, 2006 that, “In a move aimed at ending the diplomatic standoff (over Iran’s nuclear program) the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, along with Germany, agreed to a ’set of far reaching proposals’ that will form the foundation for resuming talks with Iran.” The war that began in earnest six days later in Lebanon between Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy also supported by Syria, and Israel did indeed shift attention away from Iran’s disregard of the proposals made by the UN Security Council permanent members. In the aftermath of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 was passed. It prohibited Hezbollah from rearming, and called for the Lebanese army to deploy 15,000 troops in South Lebanon. It charged the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the responsibility to implement the resolution. In the ensuing years, Iran has shipped thousands of advanced missiles to Hezbollah, with the transfers being carried out by Syria. While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is on the record as having said that Hezbollah’s existing stockpile of rockets was in violation of Security Council resolutions, Agence France Presse reported on July 2, 2010 that the UN warned of renewed violence between Hezbollah and Israel following accusations that the Shiite militant party had received sophisticated missiles. “Amidst allegations of continued arms transfers to Hezbollah, a perceptible increase in tension between the parties was noticeable said the UN Secretary General in a report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP in Beirut.” No course of action by the UN, however, was announced. In April 2010, Syria delivered truckloads of long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701. These Scud missiles can reach deep into Israel, as far south as Beersheba. While this delivery may not have changed the strategic balance between Israel and Hezbollah, according to some Israeli military experts, it has certainly raised the tension level. No course of action was announced by Ban Ki-Moon at this time either.
EU Promises to Support PA if Agrees to Direct Negotiations
July 29….(JPOST) In a final thrust to persuade reluctant PA President Mahmoud Abbas to enter direct talks with Israel, the EU coupled strong exhortations on Wednesday to Abbas to immediately begin them, with statements designed to give him confidence that once at the negotiating table, he will have strong support for a number of his key positions. Abbas arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a two-day visit to attend a special meeting of Arab League foreign ministers that begins on Thursday. The parley will evaluate the current proximity talks and discuss the possibility of starting direct negotiations. Despite pressure from the US and the EU, Abbas has signaled in recent days that he does not intend to enter direct talks until Israel stops all settlement construction, as well as construction in east Jerusalem, and commits itself to the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967, lines. He is expected to seek Arab League support for these positions. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at a press conference with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos that Israel would not extend its settlement construction moratorium past its expiration on September 26, nor would it commit to any formulation regarding borders prior to negotiations. “Our position from the first days of this government was that we must start immediately from day one with direct talks without preconditions, with everything open to discussions and every side putting its agenda and vision on the table. But it is impossible in advance to agree to a specific agenda on the 1967 lines, settlements or refugees,” Lieberman said. Regarding Abbas’s demand for a continuation of the settlement construction freeze, Lieberman said, “There is no place for any link between direct talks and continuation of the moratorium in the settlements. They are two separate issues.” He said the government had made clear from the very beginning that the moratorium would only be for 10 months. Direct talks, he added, were important “for both sides, not only for Israel.” Moratinos, in a statement interpreted by senior European diplomats as aimed for the ears of the Arab League ministers, called for an immediate and urgent start of direct talks without conditions. “It is true that if you want peace, if you want to make a final settlement, you have to meet directly,” Moratinos said, adding that this is how the international community viewed the issue. While Moratinos issued an unequivocal call for the Palestinians to enter direct talks right away, a message he is believed to have delivered to Abbas when the two met on Tuesday in Amman, France and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued statements on Wednesday designed, European diplomats said, to allay Palestinian fears. The French statement said that President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke over the past few days with both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abbas and emphasized the urgency of renewing the diplomatic process. Sarkozy called for a quick resumption of the talks, an extension of the settlement construction moratorium, and an end to steps that “disturb the balance in Jerusalem.” In an obvious wink to Palestinian positions, the statement also said that for the talks to be effective, they should deal with all the final-status issues including territorial issues, “whose solution will be based of the 1967 borders,” and the issues of security and Jerusalem. Ashton, meanwhile, issued a statement on behalf of the EU foreign ministers, reiterating the EU’s call for the quick resumption of “direct peace talks leading to a settlement on the basis of a two-state solution, negotiated between the parties within 24 months.” While the PA has called for a two-year deadline for the talks, Israel has consistently objected to any time frame, even though Netanyahu said recently in Washington that he felt an agreement could be reached within a year. Ashton also made reference to the EU’s position on the Middle East peace process from December 2009 that was, according to European officials, drawn up in part as an effort to lure the Palestinians to the negotiating table. According to that resolution, “If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.” Abbas is expected to brief the Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on the outcome of the US-brokered proximity talks that have been taking place between the PA and Israel for four months. One PA official predicted that the ministers would authorize Abbas to continue with the current indirect negotiations at least until September, when the four-month period the League had allotted for them ends. “The proximity talks have not achieved anything,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “Without progress we can’t move to direct negotiations.” Abbas went to Cairo with top PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo, Fatah legislator Azzam al-Ahmed and Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA presidency. According to the PA official, Abbas was also planning to inform the Arab ministers of the “heavy pressure” that the US was exerting on him to agree to direct talks. “The president needs the backing of the Arab League in the face of growing pressure from the US administration,” the official said. “The Palestinian Authority has decided that it will seek the support of the Arab countries in every step it takes regarding the peace process. The Arab League gave the Palestinians a green light to go to four months of indirect talks. We will go to direct talks only if the Arab League says it’s okay.” On the eve of Cairo meeting, Abbas’s Fatah faction urged the Arab ministers to support its position regarding the direct talks. “We wish to remind the Arab League that there can be no direct talks unless progress is achieved on the issues of the security and borders of a Palestinian state,” said Ahmed Assaf, a spokesman for Fatah. “We also insist that there be a complete freeze of settlement construction as a precondition for launching direct talks.” Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat called on Netanyahu to “pave the way” for direct negotiations by accepting the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines and halting settlement construction, “including in Jerusalem.”
The Sins of Damascus
July 28….(Arutz) Syria foments war, creates the Syria-Lebanon-Iran-Turkey anti-Israel axis, and is rewarded for these efforts by those among us who are willing to give her the Golan Heights. But "the four sins of Damascus are unforgivable" said the prophet Amos. The atmosphere in our area is heating up and the smell of war is in the air. Reports of long range rockets sent to Syria from Iran are only part of the story. Alongside Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, the real kingpin of the axis of evil is Syria. Syria is at the apex of planning, encouraging and abetting constant tension, as well as acting as coordinator of all the aggressors in the anti Israel coalition. The proof of the pudding came when at the end of February, Syrian president Bashar Assad called for a summit in Damascus, to which he invited and then welcomed Iranian President Ahmadenijad and Hizbullah head Hassan Narallah. Syria’s political and military terror dossier is filled to overflowing. In the 1930’s Damascus organized an armed invasion against the struggling Jewish return to the land. In 1948 the Syrian army attacked Israel. From the 1950’s until the Six Day War there were non stop artillery bombardments and terrorist attacks from the Syrian held Golan heights to the kibbutzim in the valleys below. From the 1960’s on, Damascus began supporting and encouraging Arafat’s PLO and Habash’ Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In the 1970’s the Syrian army invaded Lebanon in a barbaric war against the Marronite Christians who had ties to Israel. In the 1980’s, thanks to its training camps in the Eastern Lebanon Bak’a area, Syria aided and guided a variety of terror organizations, headed by Hizbullah, Amal and the National Syrian Party. Syria’s defense and intelligence systems were behind a wide range of hijackings and kidnappings, as well as terror attacks against Jews/Israelis/Lebanese/Egyptians/ Americans and perpetrated on Israeli soil. It was understood that Syria masterminded the murderous terror in Beirut and Tyre, Maalot and Kiryat Shmona, Buenos Aires and in the attempted hijacking of an El Al plane in London. The actual perpetrators were Palestinians and Shiites. Syrian support of Hizbullah was enhanced by the country’s being a land route for shipments of arms from Iran and Syria to Lebanon and Hizbullah. The fact that the headquarters of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership are in Damascus is proof of Syria’s leaning in the Palestinian war against Israel. A training course for Palestinian youth held near Damascus ended recently, after a new terror organization was founded called “Fata Al Intifada”. The name is probably meant as a barb to Abu Maazen who is considered too willing to compromise and make peace with Israel.
Syria has a finger in every pie
Syria is at the forefront of the strategic transformation that has formed against Israel over the last few years. In the past, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey were friendly or passive towards Israel, but today, all three are on the front line of the anti Israel campaign and their hostile stand has caused Israel political and strategic damage, as the country is now surrounded by a tightening, ever widening ring of hatred. Syria’s achievements in the conflict with Israel are characterized by several landmark events: the 1976 invations of Lebanon, the alliance with Iran in 1980, peace with Turkey in 2004 as expressed in Bashar Assad’s visit to Turkish PM Erdogan. The Turks and Syrian’s common interest in controlling the Kurds and their desire to demarcate their adjoining borders soon turned Turkey from an ally of Israel to her aggressive enemy. There is not doubt that widening the breach between Turkey and Israel is a significant Syrian political victory. When the IDF succeeded in dealing the Shiites a heavy blow in 2006, the Hizbullah recovered and renewed itself thanks to Syria. It follows that until Syria is dealt a heavy blow, there is no chance of defeating Hizbullah, so that as far as long range strategic perspective goes, the Second Lebanon War accomplished nothing. In order to reach a modus vivendi in Lebanon, Syria’s central role must be taken into account. Syria cannot remain outside future conflicts. The Iranian Shiite Revolution has strong ties to the Allawi rulership of Damascus, reaching all the way to Baal Bek, Nabatia and Dahyia in Southern Beirut. This Iran-Syrian treaty was begun in the 1980’s as a reaction to the Iran-Iraq War in the Persian Gulf and is as relevant as ever. It is not realistic to expect Damascus to break those ties at the request of the United States or Israel. The ties between the Hizbullah and Palestinians, and between the Hizbullah and Iran pass through Damascus. In April 2007, the Deputy head of Hizbullah, Naim Kassam, said that the Teheran regime authorizes every step his organization takes. In June 2010 the Hizbullah intended to send a flotilla from Lebanon to Gaza and Syria’s long shadow could be seen coordinating, planning and authorizing the anti-Israel actions. The left and its cohorts’s engage in constant polemics about leaving the Golan Heights so as to achieve peace with Syria. These are matched by Syria’s continuous warmongering and ‘resistance’ to Israel’s occupation. The government of Israel keeps bowing to the pressure and agreeing to negotiations with Syria. This Theatre of the Absurd has no rules, no logic and certainly no morality. The world’s hallucinatory perception, still based on the “Land for Peace” mantra, can bring about a terrible capitulation. Therefore, the time has come to change Israel’s music to a clear, understandable refrain, accompanied by suitable actions, that show without a doubt that Israel will never give up the Golan.
Saudi King Abdullah to Visit Lebanon, Syria
July 28….(Gulf News) Saudi King Abdullah will visit Lebanon on Friday and urge rival parties to exercise restraint amid tensions over the possible implication of Hizbollah in the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, a government official said yesterday. "The visit comes amid efforts to ease tensions in the country," the high-ranking official who did not wish to be identified said. "He is going to tell all the parties to remain cool." He was referring to mounting fears of a conflict in Lebanon following last week's announcement by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that he knew the UN tribunal probing Hariri's 2005 murder was set to indict Hizbollah members. Nasrallah made clear that he would not accept any indictment of Hizbollah members and has questioned the credibility of the tribunal. His announcement has sparked fears of a sectarian conflict in Lebanon similar to one that brought the country close to civil war in 2008. Saudi Arabia was a key supporter of Hariri and also has influence with his son and current Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri. The Saudi king's hours-long visit will be his first to Lebanon since 2002. It is part of a regional tour that will also take him on Thursday to Syria, which, along with Iran, backs Hizbollah. In Lebanon, the king will meet President Michel Sleiman and members of the national unity government that includes Hizbollah.
Israel Has Always Sought Peace
July 27….(Rapture Forum) Israel Fulfilled its Part in UN Resolution 242 as it has returned 90% of the Territories it Gained Lawfully in the Six Day War in 1967, when its Arab neighbors launched a war to exterminate it.
UN Security Council Resolution 242 adopted on November 22, 1967, became the cornerstone for what the UN calls “a just and lasting peace” that recognizes Israel’s need for “secure and recognized boundaries.” The resolution became the foundation for future peace negotiations. No other nation in the world, acting rationally, has relinquished territories acquired from an aggressor in an act of self-defense. In spite of Israel’s land concessions, there remains no prospect for peace, as Israel’s enemies still plot for her total annihilation.
Peril Awaits at the Strait of Hormuz
July 26….(Dr. Lawrence Prabhakar Williams) The Gulf-Southwest Asia region has always been a hyper-flash point of global conflict due to the dual strategic persistence of the Arab-Israel conflict and the geo-strategic and geo-economic rivalries over oil and its supplies across the critical sea gates of Straits of Hormuz and the Bab-el-Mandab straits. This has resulted in the near permanent forward basing of US and allied naval and air forces in the region with dedicated theater commands along with naval air assets with prepositioned amphibious and expeditionary capabilities. In recent years, the stakes of heightened conflict has increased by vast proportions by the intertwining of the conflicts in Iraq, the nuclear and missile proliferation in Iran and the domino effect that has followed by the Arab states. Iran holds the position of a pivotal state in the Gulf Region and has been energized in its quest to seek a great power status leveraging its Shiite ideology over the vast numbers of the Sunni dominated Southwest Asian region. Iran also has a civilization complex of being the Persian civilization and its affirmed superiority over the Arabs in its geo-historical contexts. Controlling the Straits of Hormuz and the sea gates in the region that has the densest energy-laden shipping and leveraging its enormous oil and natural gas assets into a regional geo-economic and geo-strategic grand strategy matrix has been Iran's ambitions. Contending Iran in its aggressive quest of power expansion in its geo-strategic and religious ideology has been the US-western allied Arab states and the lone free democratic state of Israel. The maritime archipelagic framework of the Gulf-Southwest Asian region is characterized by the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman constituting a primary jugular of the sea way of the region. The topography of the Strait is complex with the narrowest point the Strait being 21 miles wide. The shipping lanes consist of two-mile wide channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a two-mile wide buffer zone. Iran's access to the Strait and the pivotal role as a littoral state to control shipping movements with the capability to jeopardize international shipping has been a critical sinew of strength. In terms of its power profile, Iran could marshal its economic, military and demographic power to overwhelm the fragile states of the Arabian Peninsula that includes the regional giant Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The geo-strategic significance of the Strait of Hormuz would continue to increase in its criticality owing to Iranian motivations-capabilities of blocking oil shipping in the event of punitive actions against Tehran through very robust asymmetric naval capabilities of the Iranian navy and the sea-based elements of the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Council). Adding to these capabilities, would be Iranian ballistic and cruise missiles with nuclear or other WMD payloads that constitutes the critical gravity of threat in the region to the regional states, international shipping and for powers like China and India which have very critical hydrocarbon stakes in the region. The Iranian move to close the strait would have a very steep impact of jeopardizing the oil trade and a possible re-flagging of the tanker traffic by US and western naval power could trigger an Iranian asymmetric naval attack on the convoying of the oil traffic in the region hitting both the tanker traffic as well as the naval task force units with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles and even engaging in submarine warfare that could eventually witness a number of sunken ships thus blocking the strait of physical access. Emergent Naval Dynamics of the Gulf: Five significant issues pattern the naval dynamics in the Gulf that has its impact on the region, Iran and the external powers that includes India: One, The high stakes of Gulf Security in view of the enormous oil and natural gas reserves and the high volume of export-import trade have resulted in the high rates of economic growth and high rates of military expenditure. The slice of military expenditure has been quite high with specific reference to naval and air warfare and missile systems. The Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and the moderate Arab states have been recipients of US and western military hardware sales and often have built and operated their military hardware in doctrinal and operational patterns conforming to the US and western technological and operational matrices. They have alliance and operational support arrangements that warrants the direct US and Western naval and air intervention and support that comes into the region. Two, Iran on the other hand was an earlier pro-US and western ally during the 1960s until the early 1980s having heavily relied on US and western technology for its civilian and military sectors. With the 1979 Shia revolution, Iran broke away from the US and Western alliance system. Its pursuit of policies of asserting its regional power and challenging the status quo based on an asymmetric grand strategy. Russia and China have been principal trading partners of military-industrial technology and more importantly in the civilian-nuclear and naval sectors. Iranian naval hardware has been increasingly Russian Kilo class submarines the Amur, the Kilo 636 class Mig-29 aircraft supplies of air defense systems including the much delayed S-300 systems sales and the Chinese supplied ballistic missile technologies and the naval anti-ship cruise missiles. Three, External powers like France and India have increased considerable offshore access and basing presence in the region with naval support facilities for France in the United Arab Emirates where French naval special operation forces have access facilities along with forward deployment of French warships. Similarly, India has access and naval support facilities in Qatar. The Indian commitment includes a substantive naval security guarantee that would secure the offshore assets of Qatar and provides for the joint venture in production of weapons and military equipment. The maritime cooperation agreement provides India with a strategic naval base in the Gulf region. The India-Qatar maritime security initiative provides India and Qatar with a convergence of Indian naval power with Qatari naval forces to combat the variety of maritime asymmetric threats of terrorism, piracy and securing the offshore oil installations. It thus brings India into the Gulf Region with a secure access agreement. Four, the role of the Israeli Navy in the region adds to the interesting complexity and power balance in the naval theatre. Even as the Iranian clandestine nuclear weapons program races ahead, with the possible targeting of Iranian nuclear-industrial estate being contemplated by the US and allied western powers, Israel has an autonomous naval role in the region with several of its Saar-V class warships outfitted with Delilah standoff missiles with high powered microwave warheads and its German Dolphin class submarines armed with its Popeye Cruise missiles (of ranges 1500km) with a nuclear payload of 200kg have been in frequent deployment in the Gulf Region. This deployment brings to fore the increasing critical importance of nuclear tipped land attack cruise missiles in preemptive strikes against hardened Iranian targets in a prospective joint US-led strike against Iranian nuclear installations. Five, In an event of a conflagration in the Strait of Hormuz, there are increasing possibilities of an Iranian asymmetric move to use chemical or even radiation tipped warheads that could completely wreck civilian shipping with enormous primary and collateral loss and the crippling of shipping leading to an intense bottleneck preventing the entry of US-lead western allied intervention forces. The possibilities of such scenarios serve as important operational options for an Iranian leadership that is determined to stall a US-led preemptive strike. These naval operational realities cloud and condition the naval theatre of the Strait of Hormuz that is increasingly vulnerable and prone to assertive asymmetric strikes / counter strikes by Iran. Sources of Iranian Conduct and Responses: Iran's template of operational conduct and responses is influenced by several political, economic, religious-ideological, regional rivalry and military factors. Iran is being painted as an irrational actor with an overdose obsession on brinkmanship. While the radical religious clerical leadership and the vanguard of the revolution viz: IRGC would like to ratchet and escalate the conflicts in the region by the attempt of a WMD strike in the Strait of Hormuz and even daring targeting Israel, the Iranians in their strategic calculus have always been calculated in their responses. The penchant of an Iranian overdrive by an asymmetric operational strategy either by missile strikes or by naval disruptions could be either as an initiative to subdue the militarily weaker but the oil-rich Sunni Gulf Arab states and Saudi Arabia or as an attempt to deflect US-Israeli targeting by inciting the Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist brigades which are in effect the auxiliary units of the IRGC. A second source of Iranian strategic conduct emerges from its maritime aspirations to control the Gulf and Caspian Sea. With both seas being critically important as oil and natural gas rich repositories, Iran would prefer to maintain sea-control and sea-denial capabilities employing an asymmetric operational approach of sea-based strike missiles, submarines and aggressive naval posturing that could dent the effectiveness of any naval interventionist force. The third possible source of Iranian asymmetric conduct could come from its keen interest in developing EMP weapons (Electromagnetic Pulse) that could have perilous consequences both for onshore and offshore assets. In the last eight years, Iran has tested its missiles over the Caspian Sea with a potential EMP effect. With such serious intent, an Iranian attempt either to launch a Shahab-3 missile with an EMP payload off the US coasts from an innocent looking freighter or even using the same in the approaches of the Strait of Hormuz off the Arabian Sea coast could simply paralyze all interventionist forces. Iranian responses to an offensive strike could include the intense barrage of sea-skimming supersonic anti-ship missiles. The Iranian arsenal includes anti-ship missiles like the C-802 and Kowsar (the Chinese Silkworms and the Russian Sunburns) The C-802 anti-ship missiles are missiles that originate from China. Kowsar anti-ship missiles are basically land-based anti-ship missiles (land-to-sea missiles) which can dodge electronic jamming systems. Deploying an aggressive package of supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles and the employ of EMP weapons could be a deadly cocktail that would complicate intervention and set the stage for more escalation of strikes against Iran and counter strikes that would cripple the maritime oil commerce skyrocketing the oil price over US $300 per barrel or even more dealing with a decimation to the global economy.
An escalating conflict in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf Region would be very complex and could have portentous consequences that could have irreparable consequences: Four critical vulnerabilities would emerge by a conflict and its escalation in the Strait of Hormuz:
a) The operational vulnerability of International tanker and freight traffic in the Gulf of Oman-Strait of Hormuz region;
b) The physical vulnerability due to the perils of war and possible radiation fallout on the International expat community in the Gulf region;
c) the economic
vulnerability of collapsing Gulf economies and the skyrocket of oil prices that
would have a double jeopardy on the remittance economy and the exodus of the
International workforce from the Gulf necessitating a massive humanitarian
rescue operation from the Gulf;
The United States and other extra-regional powers have enormous geo-economic and geo-strategic stakes in the region. Amidst the swirling complexities and volatile regional security, lies buried an enormous Biblical eschatological oracle that would unfold cascading the region and the world into a global turbulence unprecedented in all proportions.
Understanding the Geopolitics of Zionism vs. Palestinianism
July 26….(Bill Salus) Presently there are two conflicting ideologies competing for sovereignty over the Holy Land. They are Zionism and Palestinianism. Recognizing their powerful affects upon the geo-politics of the Promised Land is prerequisite for achieving a comprehensive understanding of what's driving today's Israeli - Palestinian conflict. On the surface this conflict appears as a resolvable territorial dispute of strategic soil inside the Fertile Crescent, but at the core it involves the complexities of the angelic conflict, Arab hatred of the Jew, and ultimately, the epic battle between good and evil. God's covenant making character is held in contest by Satan, and it's acting out in its final stages through this Mideast conflict. The world wants to broker a two state solution forcing Israel to forfeit land to the Palestinians assuming this will enable the two ethnicities to live side by side in lasting peace. However, genocide of the Jew, not peace with the Jew, is the end game of Israel's enemies. It always has been and always will be until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, returns to punish Satan and subsequently set up the millennial kingdom bringing peace on earth and goodwill to men. Satan determined long ago that his best course of action to discredit God's character was to destroy the "apple of God's eye", the Jewish people. A careful review of Hebrew history dating back to the time of Moses' conflict with Pharaoh, on to Haman's Persian genocidal plot of the Jews, followed by Herod's "Babes of Bethlehem", and more recently Adolph Hitler's holocaust attempt, offers sufficient historical precedent attesting to this truth. The International Community wants Israel to give back lands captured by the Israeli Defense Forces in the aftermath of the six day war of 1967. According to Genesis 15:18 these territories belong to today's Israeli descendants of Abraham. This Holy Land standoff between Satan and God, played out through the Arabs and Jews, is what the world witnesses almost daily on the 6 o'clock news. The underpinnings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are indelibly rooted in their contemporaneous struggle for religious and geo-political autonomy in the Biblical Promised Land. It is an ideological war between Zionism and Palestinianism. The term Zionism was coined by Nathan Birnbaum and later popularized by Theodor Herzl in his 1896 book entitled Der Judenstaat (the Jewish State in German). Zionism, as it was originally understood, advocated the best way to avoid the Anti-Semitism spreading rampantly throughout Europe at the time was to create an independent Jewish State in Palestine. The word was derived from Mount Zion in Jerusalem, which was the historic symbol of the Jewish homeland since 6th Century BC. Today Zionism banners the Israeli government's view that it is Israel's God given right to possess their fair portion of the Holy Land and to declare a Jewish State therein. Conversely, Palestinianism is a term the Egyptian born British scholar, Bat Yeor, alludes to in her 2005 book "Eurabia". Palestinianism condenses jihadist values, by promoting the destruction of Israel and the denial of Hebrew biblical history and hence Christianity. It preaches Islamic replacement theology and the Arabization and Islamization of the Holy Land's biblical archeology. In a nutshell, Zionism promotes the rightful existence of a Jewish State in the Holy Land and Palestinianism vehemently opposes any such State! This is why the Palestinians and the preponderance of their Arab and Persian supporters today refuse to accept Israel's right to exist. In fact, it is almost impossible to find a Palestinian school text book that includes a Middle East map with Israel located upon it. Additionally, Palestinianism is at the center of Arab Nationalism. The Palestinian refugee plight ignites the Arabs to unite and will ultimately cause many of them to collectively fight against Israel. With each passing conventional Arab, Israeli war or conflict the Palestinianism rally call gains more momentum among Israel's predominately Islamic enemies. Ultimately it seemingly escalates into the climactic concluding Arab, Israeli war foretold to come in Psalm 83. Secular world leaders can't fix the Middle East problem because it is a deeply rooted in the supernatural. In the center of the geo-political equation are the three major religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, listed in the order of their advent upon the world scene. Many Jews and Christians believe God gave the disputed Mideast territories to the Jews for their eternal homeland called "Israel". Conversely, the pro-Palestinian Arabs and Persians seek the creation of one final Arab State instead called "Palestine". They perform Islamic Jihad to accomplish this end. Presently this ideological controversy has pushed the Middle East to the brink of war. Decade old political attempts to resolve the matter through land for peace deals have served to salt the wound. The Promised Land in question is the central issue and threatening to take it from Israel and dangling it like a carrot on a stick in front of the Palestinians is like playing Robin Hood for all the wrong reasons. It portrays Israel as the wealthy villain and the Palestinians as the unjustly impoverished. Israel in political moves of conciliation has attempted to appease the Arabs and Palestinians by withdrawing from portions of the disputed territories. In May of 2000 Israel unilaterally withdrew from the security zone in Southern Lebanon only to be punished by a 34-day conflict in the summer of 2006 with Hezbollah. Four thousand rockets struck Israeli soil during that conflict. Today, less than four years later, Hezbollah has 15 times as many rockets (60,000) inclusive of scud missiles recently obtained from Syria. However, the fateful pivotal episode that should lead to the soon coming Mother of all Mideast wars occurred in the summer of 2005. That dreadful August Israel's government experienced enormous pressure from the George W. Bush American administration to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza. Gush Katif was a bloc of 17 Israeli settlements inside of Gaza at the time. At the risk of provoking an Israeli civil war, these Gush Katif settlers were forced to vacate their homes. Some of them still seek proper assimilation back into Israeli society today. On the day the last settler was removed from Gush Katif the storm clouds of Hurricane Katrina were forming over the Atlantic. In probable fulfillment of the curse for curse in kind clause contained in Genesis 12:3, America was forced into its own Katrina refugee crisis much like was created in Israel as result of Gush Katif. That following January 2006 the Palestinians elected the Hamas of the Gaza territory, a vowed enemy of Israel, as their representative government. George Bush did nothing to prevent this from occurring. In fact, he had previously publicly discounted the potential for a Hamas election victory over the Fatah party. Shortly thereafter, Hamas began to indiscriminately lob Katusha rockets into neighboring Israeli cities. This led to the 22 day Operation Cast Lead war between Israel and Hamas in December 2008. This conflict, in my prophetic estimation, is the straw that may end up breaking the camel's back. This conflict caught Hamas' allies with their tales between their legs. None of them were able to do anything but rattle their sabers from the sidelines. This infuriated them as it mocked the fabric of their supposed Arab Nationalism in support of Palestinianism. However, this is not the case today. Hamas' friends are boldly showing their disdain toward Israel. Turkey, for instance, has severed most of their political ties with Israel. By Turkey's own admission, this is a direct result of Israel's decisive victory in Operation Cast Lead. Additionally, bonafide war pacts were confirmed in December 2009 between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. This means that should Hamas be attacked by Israel in the future, which holds a high degree of probability, Israel runs the risk of provoking a major Mideast war. Furthermore, Lebanon's president Michel Suleiman has pledged his support to Hezbollah in the likely event Israel and Hezbollah go toe to toe again. Even Israel's moderate peace partner Jordan's King Abdullah is warning of a summer time 2010 war if a Palestinian - Israeli peace is not achieved immediately. Jeremiah 12:14-17 informs us that the Arabs of Palestine, i.e. today's Palestinian Refugees, were to be assimilated into their ancient surrounding Arab homelands. The Arab nations that were to assimilate these refugees have chosen to banner their refugee plight rather than bear the burden of their resettlement. Historically many of these Arab nations warred against each other, however today they are unified in their support for Palestinianism and opposition of Zionism. Palestinianism and Zionism have no common ground. They represent opposing ideologies. Allowing them to coexist is a recipe for disaster. The scripturally supported solution is for the Arabs to support Zionism, abandon Palestinianism, and resettle the Palestinian refugees back into their historical homelands. According to the forthcoming foretold prophetic episodes described in Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38, and elsewhere, this is not the course Israel's modern day enemies apparently take.
WEEK OF JULY 18 THROUGH JULY 24
Israel to UN: North Korea Arms Proliferation Destabilizing the Middle East
July 24….(Ha Aretz) Israel has told the United Nations Security Council's North Korea sanctions panel that ballistic missile proliferation by Pyongyang is destabilizing the Middle East and has urged countries to step up efforts to stop it. "Israel would like to express its ongoing concern regarding the proliferation of ballistic missiles from North Korea, and to encourage the international community to strengthen its efforts in response to these dangers," Israel's UN mission said in a letter to the North Korea sanctions committee that was sent last week but published on Friday. "Israel is particularly concerned by the dangerous effects of the proliferation activities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] on the stability and the peace efforts in the Middle East," said the letter. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in May that a shipment of North Korean weapons, including rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, seized in Thailand last December was headed for Islamist groups Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. He also said North Korea was providing Iran and Syria with aid for their missile programs. Pyongyang was hit with fresh UN sanctions last year to punish it for a nuclear test in May 2009, which marked its second atomic detonation. The expanded measures were aimed at cutting off North Korea's arms sales, a vital export estimated to earn the destitute state more than $1 billion a year. North Korea's biggest arm sales come from ballistic missiles, with Iran and other Middle Eastern states as customers, according to US government officials. Iran is also under sanctions for refusing to halt sensitive parts of its nuclear program that could be used to produce atomic weapon fuel. Tehran rejects Western allegations that its nuclear program is aimed at producing arms. A UN panel of experts delivered a report to the North Korea sanctions committee in May that suggested North Korea has been using front companies to export nuclear and missile technology worldwide and has helped Iran, Syria and Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.
Report: Arab States Would Support Israeli Strike on Iran
July 23….(Israel Today) Arab officials from the Persian Gulf region have again been making comments to international media suggesting that they would support an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Speaking at a media panel in Aspen, Colorado earlier this month, Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to the US, explained that "a military attack on Iran by whomever would be a disaster, but Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a bigger disaster." Otaiba said that an Israeli attack on Iran would spark street protests by Muslims throughout the region, but that leaders like himself would be willing to deal with that in exchange for eliminating the Iranian threat. Iran, which is Persian, has been in conflict with its Arab neighbors for over 1,000 years, and has never ceased to seek hegemony over them. Iran is also a predominantly Shiite Muslim nation, whereas most Arab states are Sunni Muslim. The conflict between the two sects is often bloody, as evidenced by regular sectarian violence in Iraq. While few believe Iran would actually fire a nuclear warhead at a fellow Muslim state, be it Shiite or Sunni, by simply possessing such weapons, Tehran would be able to exert enormous influence over regional religious, economic and diplomatic policies. Jeffrey Goldberg, the Middle East expert for The Atlantic Monthly who moderated the Aspen event, told Der Spiegel that what most Western leaders fail to realize is that Otaiba's views are shared by most Arab leaders. In other words, an Israeli strike on Iran should be seen as a viable military option to the nuclear crisis, as it will not result in war between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors. Even in Saudi Arabia, a long-standing enemy of the "Zionist entity," a prominent cleric told the German magazine that he and others recognize that "Israel's agenda has its limits...it is mainly concerned with securing its national existence. But Iran's agenda is global."
Abbas Wants Obama Assurance on Borders Before Talks
July 22….(Jerusalem Post) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas today criticized US President Barack Obama for failing to provide him with clear answers to a number of questions regarding the future of peace talks with Israel. Abbas also confirmed that Obama has been exerting pressure on him to enter direct negotiations with Israel. Abbas was speaking during a closed meeting of members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah. Abbas was quoted by some Fatah operatives as saying that Egypt and Jordan supported the PA’s refusal to move to direct talks unless progress is first achieved on the issues of security and the future borders of a Palestinian state. “We can’t go to direct negotiations like blind people,” Abbas was quoted as saying. “We can’t enter direct negotiations without clarity.” Abbas complained that Obama recently sent him an oral message urging him to launch direct negotiations with Israel unconditionally. According to the PA president, Obama’s message was “unclear and ambiguous.” Abbas was quoted as saying: “With all due respect to the American president, his message was not clear. We want to clear answers to questions we presented to the Americans, especially regarding security, borders and the status of Jerusalem. We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state.” Abbas said that the US administration has also failed to give the Palestinians a clear answer with regard to Israel’s policy of settlement construction. “Before we go to the negotiations, we want clear answers on the borders and settlements,” Abbas stressed.
Dreaming of the Third Temple in a Conflicted Land of Israel
July 21….(Ha Aretz) Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi believes a Third Jewish Temple will be built soon. We believe in that. We pray for that three times a day, he says. It says in a Mishnah in the fifth chapter of "Pirkei Avot": "May the temple be rebuilt soon and in our days." That's one thing. The second thing is that all the Prophets spoke about the fact that the Temple had been destroyed by fire and would be rebuilt in fire in the future. Of all the prophecies of calamity that took place and everything the Prophets said, none of their words fell to the ground. That's also the way to understand their prophesies about consolation. Why has it not happened to this day, 1,940 years since the destruction of the Second Temple? That takes us back to the Talmudic tract Yoma 9 that tells us that the First Temple was destroyed because of idol worship, sexual immorality and bloodshed. These are the three most serious sins about which it is said that no matter what happens, these sins must not be committed. Then after 70 years we were forgiven and we had the privilege of getting the Second Temple just as Jeremiah had prophesied. But from the Second Temple that was destroyed, according to the same Yoma tract, because of unwarranted sin, to this day the Third Temple has not risen, which teaches us that this sin has not yet been forgiven. We have not yet weaned ourselves off this sin. Apparently this sin is still haunting us to this day.
Tisha B'Av: Time to Stop Mourning About The Temple!
July 21….(Israel Today) Tens of thousands of Israeli Jews gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday to mark Tisha B'Av and publicly mourn the loss of Israel's ancient temples and the "Exile of the Divine Presence." Millions more Jews from Israel and around the world joined in by reciting prayers of lamentation. But Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the Temple Institute of Jerusalem, insists the time has come to stop mourning and to turn Tisha B'Av into a day of yearning and anticipatory prayer, especially in light of the rebirth of the State of Israel. "Tisha B'Av was not intended to be a day of perpetual mourning, but rather, a bridge to the future; the yearning and desire which our mourning inspires is designed to motivate us to rebuild," Richman wrote on the Temple Institute website. Richman noted that while half of all Israeli’s want to rebuild the Temple, "we hear many excuses, such as 'who are we to rebuild the Temple? We are not ready. The time has not yet come. The Temple is a thing of the past.'" But, the Rabbi explained, this is not different than the attitude of the people of Israel during the time of the prophet Haggai, who urged the rebuilding of the Temple following the end of the Babylonian exile. "Thus said the Lord of Hosts: This nation has said, 'the time has not yet come.' But I say, it is time for the Temple of God to be rebuilt!" (Haggai 1) "The renewal of Israel and the building of the Holy Temple is a process that has begun and is now unstoppable," concluded Richman. "This nation is preparing to 'rise up like a lion' (Numbers 23:24). We are moving ever closer to the day on which we can truly say, without jaded cynicism or facetiousness but with true sincerity, that Tisha B'Av is no longer relevant, for it will have turned into a day of gladness."
US and Israel: Iran May be Capable of a Nuclear Test this Year
July 20….(DEBKA) Shahram Amiri's voluntary repatriation to Iran and a second close look at the nuclear data he passed to the CIA are raising grave doubts about its value, debkafile's intelligence sources report. There is mounting suspicion in Washington and Jerusalem that Tehran employed the scientist to strew red herrings in their path, namely, out-of-date material for concealing and misdirecting their attention from the rapid progress taking place secretly in Iran's nuclear program. A high-ranking intelligence source in Washington remarked Monday, July 19, that he would not be surprised "if we woke up one morning to find the Iranians had conducted an underground nuclear test." This was not to say Iran had a bomb or nuclear warhead ready packed for delivery, he said, "Only that it was a lot closer to this option than the Americans and Israelis had been led to believe." Therefore, as of now, their forecast of a nuclear test capability has been brought forward to within the five months remaining of 2010. Our sources report this revised forecast has emerged from US intelligence analysts' examination of two new premises regarding Amirir's input in the years he served as US informant:
1. That he was an
Iranian double agent and his apparent defection to the United States just over a
year ago was fake, engineered by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
Moscow Pledges Tehran Oil Products - Against US Embargo
July 18….(DEBKA) Countering the new US embargo on petroleum and oil distillates embargo on Iran, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Iranian Oil Minister Masud Mir-Kazemi Wednesday, July 14 signed a series of far-reaching energy-related agreements, including a deal to sell Tehran Russian petroleum products and petrochemicals. Debkafile's Moscow sources report that the pacts aim squarely at the law signed by President Barack Obama on July 2 to hit Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps' prime source of income, imported refined oil products including gasoline. The Russian and Iranian energy ministers contracted specifically to "increase cooperation in transit, swaps and marketing of natural gas as well as sales of petroleum products and petrochemicals." The accords also set up "a joint bank to help fund bilateral energy projects." This latter provision bypasses the US ban on the banks and insurance companies involved in funding refined oil supplies to Iran by creating a shared banking instrument for handling the funding of fuel purchases. Russian insurance firms connected with the new joint bank may insure shipments. By this step, Moscow moved to offset the penalties America imposed on Iran in the wake of UN Security Council sanctions of June 9 and challenged the United States to blacklist Russian firms by invoking the new US law closing American markets to companies and banks doing energy business with Iran. Important multinationals have already complied with this US edict, including two oil giants, the American-British BP and the French Total, which have ordered their vast networks of partners and subsidiaries to deny fuel to Iranian consumers, and Lloyds insurance as well as the United Arab Emirates. But punishing Russian breakers of the US sanction could trigger a serious crisis in relations with Russia. Sources on Moscow do not believe Obama will find upsetting his newly "reset" ties with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin worth the candle, especially in the light of the new joint mechanisms and bank for conducting their business. At the same time, Debkafile sources predict that US inaction against the Russian sanctions-busting transactions with Iran will encourage other countries and international business interests, particularly in the Caucasus and Central Asia which share borders with Iran, to follow their lead and defy the US embargo. According to the latest rumors flying around the oil markets, China and Turkey are willing to help Iran evade the fuel sanctions. Pictures have appeared in some Western media showing long convoys of hundreds of fuel tankers standing by on the Iraqi Kurdistan border and waiting to cross into Iran to deliver tons of petroleum. Even the heavy presence of US and Iraqi troops nearby appears to pose no deterrent to the prospective traffic, much less its absence on Iran's other borders. An important factor too is Putin's personal and active support, disclosed here by Debkafile's Moscow sources, for the mechanisms to break Obama's anti-Iran fuel embargo. These mechanisms could not have been set up overnight; they required time and attention. So they must have been completed by Monday, July 12, when President Medvedev commented that Iran was closer than ever to building a nuclear weapon, knowing that the US maneuver for deterring Iran from making the last leap in its race for a nuke was about to be sabotaged by his own government. As for the impact on Israel, Debkafile's sources note that the Russian step has demolished the last remnant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strategy which, during all his eighteen months in office, relied on Tehran being held back from attaining a nuclear weapon by expanded international sanctions harsh enough to hurt its economy. He trusted Obama's new energy sanctions to be the ultimate preventative, until Wednesday, when Moscow stepped in to pull their punch.
Syria Massacres Kurds Aided by Turkey's Israel-made Drones
July 18….(DEBKAfile Exclusive) Syrian troops and Kurdish tribesman are locked in fierce battle since the Syrian army blasted four northeastern Kurdish towns and neighborhoods at the end of June, Debkafile's military and intelligence sources report. Hundreds of Kurds are reported dead. The Syrian campaign is backed by Heron spy drones Israel sold Turkey, made accessible on the personal say-so of Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan. Turkey therefore becomes the first NATO member to make advanced Western military technology available for the use of a strong ally of radical Iran and an active sponsor of terrorists. Following intense exchanges between Jerusalem and Washington, the NATO command was urged to put Ankara on the carpet, with no response as yet. The drones are being used to track Kurds in flight across Syria's borders, mainly into Lebanon, where Hizballah is helping Syria hunt the refugees down. The accessibility to Damascus of the unmanned aerial vehicles is in direct breach of the Israel-Turkish sales contracts which barred their use, and the use of other Israeli high-tech items sold to Turkey during years of close military collaboration, in the service of hostile states or entities. Extending their sphere to Syrian and Lebanese skies gives the Syrian army and Hizballah (Iran's external arm) a unique opportunity to study the Heron (Eitan)'s sophisticated attributes in real combat conditions at close hand and adjust their own tactics accordingly to outwit them. debkafile's intelligence sources have no doubt that Iranian intelligence officers stationed in Damascus and Beirut jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the Israeli wonder-drones. Regarding the crackdown on the Kurds, our military sources report that three large-scale Syrian military operations against the Kurdish people are in progress under the guidance of Turkish generals based at Syrian staff headquarters in Damascus:
1. Syrian elite forces are battling suspected Kurdish members of the Turkish PKK in at least four northeastern Syrian towns near the Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi border triangle: the big Kurdish town of Qamishli, the mixed Kurdish-Assyrian town of Al Asakah and two others, Qaratshuk and Diwar. All four and their outlying villages are under massive Syrian army siege after complete residential blocks were blasted, acting as the trigger for the current fighting. Not all the victims are PKK fighters by any means. Most were civilians. Turkish intelligence sources tried to justify the Syrian massacre and their government's complicity by claiming that 2,000 of the 6,000 PKK fighters conducting terrorist attacks in Turkey from North Iraqi havens are Syrian Kurds or providers of alternative bases for their Turkish comrades to strike Turkish military positions from a second direction. While until Saturday, July 17, Damascus was tight-lipped about its grim campaign against its Kurdish community, Turkish military sources were more vocal. They placed the number of Kurdish dead in battle at 185 and another 400 taken captive, many of whom will be turned over to Ankara. Our sources estimate the number of dead as much higher, more than 300, with at least 1,000 injured.
2. Large Syrian contingents are sealing the Iraqi border against the flight of
Syrian Kurds - but also to block the entry of PKK reinforcements for aiding
their beleaguered brethren.
Half Israeli Public Wants to See Holy Temple Rebuilt
July 18….(Arutz) Sometimes while viewing the vast landscape of the current news and events in the world, you see an article that really stands out screaming that Bible prophecy is lining up as the Bible foretold. Today while searching the news headlines I came across one such news article that seemed to do that. This article was a news report from the INN news website that indicates that half the Israeli public wants to see the Third Jewish Temple built. The INN article reports: Half the Israeli public wants the Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash) to be rebuilt. This is the main finding of a poll commissioned by the Knesset Television Channel and carried out by the Panels Institute. The poll was taken in advance of this Tuesday’s national day of mourning, known as Tisha B’Av, on which the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, 2,000 and 2,500 years ago, respectively. The article went on to break down the statistics of the polls which showed: Forty nine percent said they want the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, while 23% said they do not. The remainder said they were unsure. The public is about evenly split on whether they believe it will happen, with a slight edge, 42% to 39%, to those who believe the Third Holy Temple will be rebuilt. Should the State of Israel take active steps towards the reconstruction? Forty-eight percent said no, while 27% said yes. The poll has some very interesting results that show that the majority of Israelis are in favor of building the Third Temple, but for one reason or another do not think time is right for following through on the construction of it. While we know that many preparations for the building of the Temple itself and the construction of the ancient temple vessels have been ongoing in recent years by the Temple Institute and Temple Mount Faithful, the fact remains that that the Jewish people have decided that time is not right to build the Third Temple but it does appear that it could be close at hand. I believe that students of Bible prophecy should be able to see a subtle shift in Jewish thinking about the Third Temple. It seems to me that as Israel finds itself up against the wall in the international community as well as being surrounded by hostile enemies, that the spiritual side of the Jewish people is beginning to awaken and look towards God more. However, I believe this "awakening" is in the early stage and will fully manifest itself when the Israelis win convincing future conflicts with their enemies in the prophecies concerning Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, and Ezekiel 38-39. I believe that this spiritual awakening is what will cause the Jewish people to demand that a Third Temple be built and that a return to Old Testament style worship will be reinstated. We are told in the Book of Daniel that there will be a Third Temple during the end times in which the future Antichrist will erect his abomination of desolation and declare himself to be god on earth. This abomination of desolation will eventually lead to the cutting off of Old Testament style animal sacrifices and as a result will start the time known as the "great tribulation". The Bible warns the Jewish people to flee to the mountains (Petra) to the place God has prepared for them so they can wait out the final half of the seven year tribulation period. But before these things happen, Israel must be spiritually awakened and demand a Third Temple in order to resume their Old Testament style worship. The Bible tells that when the Ezekiel 38-39 war occurs that the Jewish people and the entire world will know that the Lord saved them and as a result will have their spiritual flame lit again. Currently Israel is approximately 90% secular, with only about 10% being religious. This imbalance will need to change drastically in order for a Third Temple to be built in Jerusalem and I believe that the event that will do it is the Ezekiel 38-39 war of Gog and Magog, when the Russians lead a moslem coalition on an invasion of Israel from the north. Right now the Middle East news is dominated by the soured relationship between Israel and Turkey. This relationship has been going downhill for a while now but recently hit rock bottom with the May Gaza flotilla crisis. I believe that we are seeing the setup for Turkey to fall into the hands of the Gog and Magog coalition, if they have not already done so by now. For a long time Turkey cooperated with Israel on the economic and military fronts, but since the inception of the radical Islamic led government of Turkish PM Erdogan, Turkey has been on the fast track to cutting ties with Israel. They have for a long time been the only Islamic country to hold close ties with Israel. But all of this is changing and pretty fast might I add. This is why students of Bible prophecy will need to remain fixated on the Middle East region as things continue to grow tense with each passing day. With time running out to stop the Iranian nuclear program, Israel faces threats on all sides as well as from afar. This is a time in history when the friends of Israel need to support her more than ever. Please continue to join with me in praying for Israel and for the peace of Jerusalem.
Palestinian Leader Abbas Rejects Peace Talks With Netanyahu
July 18….(Israel Today) Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the weekend not only rejected an American request that he restart direct peace talks with Israel, he introduced a new precondition that will make resuming direct negotiations almost impossible. Abbas met with US envoy George Mitchell for over three hours in Ramallah on Saturday. Mitchell pointed out that Israel is ready for direct peace talks, and strongly urged Abbas to return to the negotiating table as it is becoming clear to everyone that the Palestinian leader is the main obstacle to peace. But Abbas remained adamant that he will not sit down with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu until the latter agrees to fully halt all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria permanently. That demand extends to the eastern half of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital. Later in the day, Abbas spoke to Jordanian newspaper al Ghad and introduced the new precondition that Israel must agree to the stationing of a foreign military force in Judea and Samaria before he will resume direct negotiations. Abbas insisted that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had verbally agreed to such a condition, and that Netanyahu must honor that commitment. Even if he did agree to a foreign peacekeeping force, Olmert's decision was never ratified by the government. Other Israeli leaders, including some in the current government, have expressed a willingness to try foreign peacekeepers in Judea and Samaria, but have pointed out that past and current peacekeeping forces have failed to do their job. For instance, the 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon is now known to have utterly failed to prevent Hizballah from rearming and threatening the Jewish state with tens of thousands of missiles. Similarly, the European peacekeeping force that took over the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza after Israel's withdrawal in 2005 fled the area at the first sign violence, allowing Hamas and its terrorist allies to import large quantities of weapons. Many Israelis fear a peacekeeping force in Judea and Samaria would serve no purpose but to prevent Israeli forces from carrying out anti-terror operations.
WEEK OF JULY 11 THROUGH JULY 17
Moscow Pledges Tehran Oil Products - Against US Embargo
July 16….(DEBKA) Countering the new US embargo on petroleum and oil distillates embargo on Iran, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Iranian Oil Minister Masud Mir-Kazemi Wednesday, July 14 signed a series of far-reaching energy-related agreements, including a deal to sell Tehran Russian petroleum products and petrochemicals. Debkafile's Moscow sources report that the pacts aim squarely at the law signed by President Barack Obama on July 2 to hit Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps' prime source of income, imported refined oil products including gasoline. The Russian and Iranian energy ministers contracted specifically to "increase cooperation in transit, swaps and marketing of natural gas as well as sales of petroleum products and petrochemicals." The accords also set up "a joint bank to help fund bilateral energy projects." This latter provision bypasses the US ban on the banks and insurance companies involved in funding refined oil supplies to Iran by creating a shared banking instrument for handling the funding of fuel purchases. Russian insurance firms connected with the new joint bank may insure shipments. By this step, Moscow moved to offset the penalties America imposed on Iran in the wake of UN Security Council sanctions of June 9 and challenged the United States to blacklist Russian firms by invoking the new US law closing American markets to companies and banks doing energy business with Iran. Important multinationals have already complied with this US edict, including two oil giants, the American-British BP and the French Total, which have ordered their vast networks of partners and subsidiaries to deny fuel to Iranian consumers, and Lloyds insurance as well as the United Arab Emirates. But punishing Russian breakers of the US sanction could trigger a serious crisis in relations with Russia. Sources on Moscow do not believe Obama will find upsetting his newly "reset" ties with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin worth the candle, especially in the light of the new joint mechanisms and bank for conducting their business. At the same time, Debkafile sources predict that US inaction against the Russian sanctions-busting transactions with Iran will encourage other countries and international business interests, particularly in the Caucasus and Central Asia which share borders with Iran, to follow their lead and defy the US embargo. According to the latest rumors flying around the oil markets, China and Turkey are willing to help Iran evade the fuel sanctions. Pictures have appeared in some Western media showing long convoys of hundreds of fuel tankers standing by on the Iraqi Kurdistan border and waiting to cross into Iran to deliver tons of petroleum. Even the heavy presence of US and Iraqi troops nearby appears to pose no deterrent to the prospective traffic, much less its absence on Iran's other borders. An important factor too is Putin's personal and active support, disclosed here by Debkafile's Moscow sources, for the mechanisms to break Obama's anti-Iran fuel embargo. These mechanisms could not have been set up overnight; they required time and attention. So they must have been completed by Monday, July 12, when President Medvedev commented that Iran was closer than ever to building a nuclear weapon, knowing that the US maneuver for deterring Iran from making the last leap in its race for a nuke was about to be sabotaged by his own government. As for the impact on Israel, Debkafile's sources note that the Russian step has demolished the last remnant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strategy which, during all his eighteen months in office, relied on Tehran being held back from attaining a nuclear weapon by expanded international sanctions harsh enough to hurt its economy. He trusted Obama's new energy sanctions to be the ultimate preventative, until Wednesday, when Moscow stepped in to pull their punch.
Banks Repossess US Homes at Record Pace
July 16….(Reuters) Banks repossessed a record number of US homes in the second quarter, but slowed new foreclosure notices to manage distressed properties on the market, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday. The root problems of job losses and wage cuts persist, making a sustained US housing recovery elusive. Banks took control of 269,962 properties in the second quarter, up 5 percent from the prior quarter and a 38 percent spike from the second quarter of last year, RealtyTrac said in its midyear 2010 foreclosure report. Repossessions will likely top 1 million this year. "The underlying conditions haven't improved," RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick Sharga said in an interview. The housing market still grapples with "unemployment, economic displacement in general, and still sits on over 5 million seriously delinquent loans that in all likelihood will at some point go into foreclosure," he said. In 2005, the last "normal" year in housing, Sharga said, about 530,000 households got a foreclosure notice and banks took over a comparatively minuscule 100,000 houses. This year more than 3 million households are likely to get at least one foreclosure filing, which includes notice of default, scheduled auction and repossession, Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac forecasts. In the first half of the year, foreclosure filings were made on 1.65 million properties. That was down 5 percent from the last half of 2009 but up 8 percent from the first half of last year. One in every 78 households got at least one foreclosure filing in the first six months of this year.
Iran Imprisoning & Executing Christians Simply for Being Christians
July 15….(Worthy News) A well-known Iranian pastor faces execution after two judges agreed to make him "liable to capital punishment," as part of a crackdown on the growing Protestant church movement in the Islamic nation, Worthy News and its parner agency BosNewsLife learned Tuesday, July 13. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was detained in June along with wife Fatemeh Pasandideh in the city of Rasht in northwestern Iran because of their Christian activities, Iranian Christians said. A senior pastor of the Church of Iran movement, which includes house churches across the country, told Worthy News that judges had "already signed" an Islamic order that would potentially allow a death sentence for Nadarkhani, pending further investigations. The pastor usually speaks on condition of anonymity to BosNewsLife amid security concerns. News of the execution overshadowed joy over the release of two Church of Iran Christians, a man and a woman, and the expected release this week on bail of two other members, who the movement only identified as "brothers Mehdi and Afshin."
They were part of a group of eight Church of Iran members detained June 18, the senior pastor said. One of them, a pastor's wife identified as Fatemeh Kojouri Tork, remained in Tehran's notorious Evin prison Tuesday, July 13, while her husband, Behrouz Sadegh Khanjani, was kept in isolation in a security prison in the southwestern city of Shiraz, the Christian leader said. "We still do not hear from Reverend Behrouz Khanjani." Iranian Christians have also expressed concerns about reports of other detentions, including last month's capture of Pastor Behnam Irani in the city of Karaj, 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) west of Tehran. Several believers have allegedly been mistreated. "We have learned that information that security forces have been using substances to extract confessions from Christians," the senior pastor said. Iranian officials have not commented on the cases.
Rights groups have linked the crackdown to concern among authorities about growing churches and the spread of Christianity among Muslims in the country. Church sources say the number of Christians in Iran has grown from 500 known believers in 1979 to at least 100,000 today. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly said the government needed to halt the growing movement of house churches across Iran. Under Iran's strict interpretation of Islam, "apostasy," or the formal renunciation of religion is punishable by death.
Historian Warns of Coming Collapse of American Empire
July 14….(In The Days) Harvard professor and prolific author Niall Ferguson opened the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival Monday with a stark warning about the increasing prospect of the American “empire” suddenly collapsing due to the country’s rising debt level. I think this is a problem that is going to go live really soon,” Ferguson said. “In that sense, I mean within the next two years. Because the whole thing, fiscally and other ways, is very near the edge of chaos. And we’ve seen already in Greece what happens when the bond market loses faith in your fiscal policy.” Ferguson said empires, such as the former Soviet Union and the Roman empire, can collapse quite quickly and the tipping point is often when the cost of servicing an empire’s debt is larger than the cost of its defense budget. “That has not been the case I think at any point in US history,” Ferguson said. “It will be the case in the next five years.” The US is now deeply in the red as a country because of a combination of the Great Recession, the resulting federal stimulus and financial bailout programs, two wars, the Bush tax cuts, and a growth in social entitlement programs. And economic debt can lead to a sudden loss of military power and global respect, Ferguson said. “By combating our crisis of private debt with an extraordinary expansion of public debt, we inevitably are going to reduce the resources available for national security in the years ahead,” Ferguson said. “Because as a debt grows, so the interest payments you have to make on it grow, even if interest rates stay low. And on current projections, the federal debt is going to be absorbing around 20 percent, a fifth of all the taxes you pay, within just a few years. “The item of discretionary federal expenditure most likely to be squeezed is of course defense. And there are lots of historic precedents for that,” said Ferguson, who is the author of “Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power.” Ferguson said the financial crisis that started in 2007 has “has accelerated a fundamental shift in the balance of power,” with the US shedding power and China absorbing it. “I’ve just come back from China, a two-week trip there, and the thing I heard most often was, ‘You can’t lecture us about the superiority of your system anymore. We don’t need to learn anything from you about financial institutions and forget about democracy. We see where it has got you.’” David Gergen of CNN, who moderated the discussion, which also included billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman, asked Ferguson whether it made a difference if the US declined as a world power. “Having grown up in a declining empire, I do not recommend it,” Ferguson said. “It’s not a lot of fun, actually, decline. To be more serious, a world in which the United States is no longer predominate is not likely to be a better world, actually.” In what he called his “light moment,” Ferguson said, “I think there is a way out for the United States. I don’t think its over. But it all hinges on whether you can re-energize the real mainsprings of American power. And those two things are technological innovation and entrepreneurship.
Archaeologists Uncover Goliath's Hometown
July 14….(Arutz) An ongoing archaeological excavation in Tel Tzafit continues to unearth the ruins of what was once the city of Gat, described in the Bible as the hometown of Goliath. Professor Aren Maeir, who is directing the dig, spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service to discuss the latest finds. Recent finds from the Tel Tzafit excavation are “fascinating,” Maeir said. The site, inhabited at times by Canaanites and at other times by Philistines, has remnants from many periods of history. “We are focusing on the Canaanite period, the Philistine period, and the Israelite period, and for now we're primarily in the Philistine period,” he said. One of the most interesting finds was a piece of writing containing, among other things, Philistine names, some of which were similar to the name “Goliath.” "We've found a rich variety of artifacts,” showing that Gat was a major city at that time, he continued. “We are now discovering remnants from metal craft and bronze, and from the destruction of the city at the hands of King Chazel of Aram as described in the second books of Kings.” Findings show that Chazel and his army laid siege to the city until its residents had exhausted their food supply, then attacked. Dozens of buildings were found that were demolished by the invading army. Other buildings appear to have collapsed in an earthquake, possibly the one mentioned at the beginning of the book of Amos, he said. The relationship between the nation of Israel and the Philistines was more complex than people tend to assume, Maeir revealed. “The Philistines were often more than just enemies. We can see this in the Bible as well, for instance, in the fact that Samson married a Philistine woman,” he said. There appears to have been crossover between the two cultures, for example, findings show that elements of Philistine cooking became common among the Israelites as well.
Jewish Masses Lay Claim to the Temple Mount
July 13….(Israel Today) More than 10,000 Israeli Jews gathered at the foot of Jerusalem's Temple Mount on Monday night to remind their own government and the international community that the biblical holy site belongs to them. Israel National News reports that those gathered recited a "pledge of allegiance " to a Jewish Temple Mount where one day a temple to the God of Israel will again stand. Speakers at the event decried the fact that today pretty much everyone except Jews are allowed to ascend the Temple Mount freely. Muslim authorities currently control the Temple Mount, and foreign non-Jewish visitors are allowed to ascend the plateau with little or no trouble. But Jewish visitors are regularly turned away by police if there is any fear of a violent Muslim reaction to their presence. Jews and Christians both are forbidden to pray atop the Temple Mount or to carry Bibles into the compound. Numerous times, Muslim authorities at the site have chased down and driven off Jews and Christians spotted saying silent prayers.
Muslim Mob Kills Wife, Children of Christian in Pakistan
July 13….(Compass Direct News) A Muslim mob in Jhelum, Pakistan murdered the wife and four children of a Christian last month, but local authorities are too afraid of the local Muslim leader to file charges, according to area Muslim and Christian sources. Jamshed Masih, a police officer who was transferred 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Gujrat to Jhelum, Punjab Province, said a mob led by Muslim religious leader Maulana Mahfooz Khan killed his family on June 21 after Khan called him to the local mosque and told him to leave the predominantly Muslim colony. Jhelum is 85 kilometers (53 miles) south of Islamabad. “You must leave with your family, no non-Muslim has ever been allowed to live in this colony, we want to keep our colony safe from scum,” Khan told Masih, the bereaved Christian told Compass. Masih had moved to Mustafa Colony in Jhelum with his wife, two sons and two daughters and were living in a rented house. Masih said that a Muslim neighbor, Ali Murtaza, told him that area Muslims notified Khan, telling the religious leader, “We cannot allow these non-Muslims to live here, they will be a bad influence on our children.” An anxious Masih told his wife Razia Jamshed about the local Muslim response, and they decided to bring their concern to the pastor of a local Presbyterian Church, Saleem Mall. “Pastor Saleem said, ‘I will also advise you to vacate the house, as it can be dangerous living there, these people can harm your family,” Masih said. Masih’s neighbor, Murtaza, confirmed to Compass the response of the local Muslims and related incidents that led up to the murders. Murtaza told Compass that after Masih went to work at 7 am on June 21, his children could be heard singing hymns before breakfast. Neighbors saw Masih’s s 11-year-old son go into a store, he said. The shopkeeper asked him if he was a Christian; the child responded that he was. “The shopkeeper refused to give him the packet of Surf and spoke very harshly to him, ‘I don’t sell to any non-Muslim, you are not welcome here, don’t you dare ever come to my shop again,’” Murtaza said. The boy went home, upset, and told his mother about the encounter; she grew worried and called her husband, saying, “Jamshed, please come home quickly, the kids and I are very worried, we must leave this house today,” Masih said. His neighbor, Murtaza, said that shortly afterward some area residents came to the door with the Muslim religious leader, Khan. “Your son has committed blasphemy against Muhammad, our beloved prophet, we can’t allow him to live, he should be punished,” Khan told Razia Masih, Murtaza said. “Razia got scared and said, ‘My son couldn’t do such a thing, he is only 11 years old.’” Khan became furious and said, “Are we lying to you? You call us liars, how dare you insult us,” Murtaza said. “Someone from the crowd hit something hard on her head, and she started bleeding. The children started crying and shouted for help. Razia kept shouting for help, ‘Please have mercy on us, please let my husband come, then we can talk. Jamshed Masih said his daughter telephoned police as the mob attacked his wife and children. He said he later learned that “the people kept shouting, ‘This family has committed blasphemy, they should be killed.” Before police arrived, his family was murdered, he said. Murtaza said Masih rushed home and was devastated to find the dead bodies of his wife and four children. When Masih tried to file a complaint against Khan for the murder, Station House Officer (SHO) Ramzan Mumtaz refused to do so, according to Murtaza and Mall, the Presbyterian clergyman. “He said, ‘Khan is an influential man, and he said your son has committed blasphemy, we cannot do anything against him,’” Mall said. Murtaza added, “The SHO just said, ‘I am a poor man, I have a family, and I was pressured by higher authorities not to register the FIR [First Information Report] as Khan is a very influential man. I am sorry, I don’t have anything in my hands.’” Contacted by Compass, SHO Mumtaz confirmed that he responded to the request to file the complaint against Khan in these exact words. Masih has filed a complaint with the chief minister of Punjab Province begging him for justice, Mall told Compass. “We condemn this brutal murder of innocent children in the name of Islam,” Mall said. “This has to stop now. We appeal to the government to let us live in peace.”
Judgment May be Falling on America
July 13….(Bill Wilson) The moral condition of the United States may be prompting a prophetic Isaiah 59 judgment on Americans because as Isaiah 59:4 says, “None call for justice, nor any plead for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.” Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department appears to be turning against the citizens it vows to protect. One of Holder’s first acts was to announce that the terrorists being held in Guantanamo Bay would be tried in US civilian courts. This would have afforded these terrorists the same Constitutional rights as American citizens. These terrorists were not American citizens and were out to kill Americans. Yet, Holder wanted to treat them as citizens. In June, before even the facts surrounding the BP oil spill in the Gulf were investigated, Holder announced that he was initiating a criminal investigation against BP, saying, “If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response.” The man who occupies the Oval Office then slapped a moratorium on Gulf oil drilling. Holder defended the action in federal court drawing criticism from the judge, who said “The Court is persuaded that it is only a matter of time before more business and jobs and livelihoods will be lost. The defendants (sic the White House) trivialize such losses.” Holder lost. Americans continue to lose as oil rigs are abandoning the Gulf for friendlier political waters. Then Holder’s Justice Department dropped a voter intimidation case it had already won against New Black Panther Party member Samir Shabazz, a militant Islamist who intimidated white voters in Philadelphia during the last presidential election. Shabazz said that he hated white people and that the only way the Black man is to gain his freedom is by killing white babies. But Holder’s Justice Department is going to investigate the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a white police officer who killed a black man who was resisting arrest. Holder wants to know if he can press federal charges against the officer for a racially motivated crime. That’s not all. The federal government has refused to secure the border with Mexico, turning a blind eye to raging drug wars endangering US citizens. Arizona passed a law to secure its borders. Holder is suing Arizona for interfering in America’s foreign policy and anti-terrorism efforts. In addition, Holder told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he may also sue Arizona for racial profiling. Isaiah 59:14 says, “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” Here “judgment” means “verdicts.” Holder’s decisions hold no justice according to America’s laws, but in our fallen condition what are we to expect according to God’s laws?
UN Chief: Israeli Settlements Must be Stopped
July 12….(Jerusalem Post) Israeli settlement building anywhere on occupied land is illegal and must be stopped, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Saturday, after getting a closer look at some of the Israeli enclaves scattered across Palestinian-claimed territories. During a high-profile West Bank visit, Ban was escorted to an observation point by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. From the hill on the outskirts of Ramallah, the UN secretary-general was able to see the sprawling settlement of Givat Ze’ev, home to 11,000 Israelis who live in rows of red-roofed houses. The panorama also included Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. The brief geography lesson came a day after Ban, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives of the EU and Russia, known together as the Quartet, met in Moscow to try to find a way to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The mediators urged Israel to halt all settlement construction, which has emerged as a key obstacle to renewing talks. Israel has agreed to curb settlement construction in the West Bank, but not in east Jerusalem. On Saturday, Ban rejected Israel's distinction between east Jerusalem and the West Bank, noting that both are occupied lands. "The world has condemned Israel's settlement plans in east Jerusalem," Ban told a news conference after his brief tour. "Let us be clear. All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and must be stopped." The UN chief reassured his Palestinian hosts that the international community supports the establishment of a Palestinian state, and also expressed concern about what he said was a worsening humanitarian situation in blockaded Hamas-ruled Gaza. Earlier this month, Israelis and Palestinians had agreed to indirect talks, with US envoy George Mitchell to shuttle between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. However, the indirect talks were put on hold after Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new houses for Jews in east Jerusalem. The announcement prompted a major diplomatic row between Israel and the US, though Clinton suggested Friday that a way could be found to renew negotiations. Clinton has asked Netanyahu for specific gestures, including canceling the most recent housing plan, and is to hear from the premier in a meeting in Washington early next week. Meanwhile, Mitchell is returning to the region over the weekend and is planning to brief Abbas on US efforts. Abbas has said he will not negotiate with Israel directly unless it freezes all settlement construction, including in east Jerusalem. Ban said Saturday that he hopes the indirect talks will be launched very soon. On Sunday, Ban is to visit Gaza. Israel and Egypt imposed a border blockade after Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. The closure, including the ban on the import of building materials, has prevented reconstruction of thousands of apartments destroyed or damaged during Operation Cast Lead more than a year ago. "I go to Gaza tomorrow to express my solidarity with the plight of the Palestinians here and to underscore the need to end the blockade," he said. Several UN projects in Gaza, including 150 low-income apartments in the town of Khan Yunis, have also been put on hold as a result of the blockade. Ban confirmed Saturday that Israel has given the go-ahead for the Khan Yunis project. He said Israel's decision is a first step but that more needs to be done. "I am deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation" in Gaza, he said.
Russia Admits Iran Soon Will Have Nuclear Weapons
July 12….(YNET) Iran is close to having the potential to build a nuclear weapon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday, in one of Moscow's toughest statements on the Iranian atomic drive. "Iran is nearing the possession of the potential which in principle could be used for the creation of a nuclear weapon," Medvedev said at a meeting with Russian diplomats quoted by Russian news agencies. The statement, which comes after a row with Tehran over Moscow's support of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, is one of the first times the Kremlin has recognized in public that Iran may be moving towards a nuclear weapon. Russia, traditionally a diplomatic and economic ally of the Islamic Republic, has in the past taken a milder line against Tehran than Western powers but has noticeably hardened its position in recent months. The United States and major European Union powers suspect that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
Iran Was Friend to Israel Before 1979 Islamic Revolution
July 12….(Israel Today) The portrait painted by the world media is that Israel and Iran are the worst of enemies, and that the Islamic Republic is united in leading the charge against perceived Jewish injustices against the Palestinian Arabs. As demonstrated in a telephone exchange between average Iranians and Israeli lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, that simply is not true. Israel and Iran had warm relations prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and many average Iranians remain friendly toward the Jewish state. The exchange took place late last week on Voice of Israel's Farsi radio program. Sources in Iran said that millions of Iranians listen to the Israeli program in their mother tongue, despite the risk of being jailed and tortured for "contact with enemy agents." The show's host took calls from a large number of Iranians and translated their questions for Hanegbi. Nearly all of the callers expressed support for international pressure on their own regime over its defiant nuclear program, but warned that the current sanctions are not enough. They urged Israel to press for stronger international measures, including the use of military force - be it Israeli or American. A caller who identified himself as a university student from Tehran reminded Israelis that their forefathers had been freed from slavery and exile by the Persian king Cyrus, and that Israelis owe the Iranians of today their support in overthrowing an oppressive Islamic regime that threatens the entire region. Hanegbi, whose comments were translated by the host into Farsi, responded by noting that all Israel feels the pain of the Iranian people, and watch with broken hearts as the Iranian regime violently suppresses movements for democratic freedom in the country. Hanegbi concluded by saying that Israelis "remember the special relations between Israel and Iran before the rise of the ayatollahs. I am certain these relations will return."
United States is Dying via A Cancer of Debt
July 12….(Newsmax) The heads of President Barack Obama's national debt commission painted a gloomy picture Sunday as the United States struggles to get its spending under control. Republican Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles told a meeting of the National Governors Association that everything needs to be considered, including curtailing popular tax breaks, such as the home mortgage deduction, and instituting a financial trigger mechanism for gaining Medicare coverage. The nation's total federal debt next year is expected to exceed $14 trillion, about $47,000 for every US resident. "This debt is like a cancer," Bowles said in a sober
presentation nonetheless lightened by humorous asides between him and Simpson. "It is truly going to destroy the country from within." Simpson said the entirety of the nation's current discretionary spending is consumed by the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs. "The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans, the whole rest of the discretionary budget, is being financed by China and other countries," said Simpson. China alone currently holds $920 billion in U.S. IOUs. Bowles said if the US makes no changes it will be spending $2 trillion by 2020 just for interest on the national debt. "Just think about that: All that money, going somewhere else, to create jobs and opportunity somewhere else," he said. Simpson, the former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Bowles, the former White House chief of staff under Democratic President Bill Clinton, head an 18-member commission. It's charged with coming up with a plan by Dec. 1 to reduce the government's annual deficits to 3 percent of the national economy by 2015. Bowles led successful 1997 talks with Republicans on a balanced budget bill that produced government surpluses the last three years Clinton was in office and the first year of Republican George W. Bush's presidency. Simpson, as the Senate's GOP whip in 1990, helped round up votes for a budget bill in which President George H.W. Bush broke his "read my lips" pledge not to raise taxes.
Obama Science Czar Calls For Surrender of US Sovereignty
(Urges US to give up sovereignty to UN-controlled world super government)
July 12….(WND) White House science czar John Holdren has called for the US to surrender sovereignty to a "planetary regime" armed with military power to enforce population limits upon nations and prevent perceived dangers from global eco-disasters. Red Alert obtained and reviewed a copy of the 1970s college textbook, "Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment," that Holdren co-authored with Malthusian population alarmist Paul R. Ehrlich and Ehrlich's wife, Anne. The authors argued that involuntary birth-control measures, including forced sterilization, may be necessary and morally acceptable under extreme conditions, such as widespread famine brought about by "climate change." They recommended the creation of a "planetary regime" created to act as an "international superagency for population, resources, and environment." "Such a Planetary Regime could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable, at least insofar as international implications exist," they argued. "Thus, the Regime could have the power to control pollution not only in the atmosphere and the oceans, but also in such freshwater bodies as rivers and lakes that cross international boundaries or that discharge into the oceans." Arguing in the 1970s textbook for the passage of the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty and for a proposed complimentary United Nations Law of the Atmosphere Treaty, Holdren believed the planetary regime could be developed out of the UN administrative apparatus established to administer these treaties as well as the United Nations Environment Program and various unspecified UN population agencies. Holdren acknowledged the United States would have to surrender sovereignty to the planetary regime and that the regime would have to have military arms for the envisioned super-government to succeed. He clearly specified the planetary regime would be charged with global population control. Holdren wrote: "The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries' shares within their regional limits. Control of population size might remain the responsibility of each government, but the Regime should have some power to enforce the agreed limits."
Ahmadinejad Will Visit Beirut
July 12….(DEBKA) Feverish preparations are afoot in Tehran for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first visit to the Lebanese capital. Reporting this, Debkafile's Iranian sources define the trip's purpose as a confrontational exercise to warn the US and Israel that full implementation of the tough new UN, US and European sanctions will provoke an Iranian war on Israel, waged from Lebanon. Iran's rulers came up with this plan in their marathon consultations last week, prompted by the realization that the US embargo on gasoline and other refined oil products were for real. Combined with the Obama administration's partial success in closing the US banking system and markets to Iranian firms and the UAE's consent to close its ports to Iranian traffic, the new measures have the potential for throwing a large spanner into the Islamic Republic's normal economic activity. The planning for Ahmadinejad's trip to Lebanon, probably towards the end of July or early August, went into high gear after Syrian president Bashar Assad and the Qatari ruler Shiekh Hamad Bin Khalif Al Thani (who engineered the power-sharing accord for setting up the Lebanese government coalition in 2009) reacted positively to the notion of the threesome landing in Beirut aboard the same plane or in convoy, at the invitation of Lebanese president Michel Suleiman. This procedure was advised to insure the Iranian president against a possible Israel attempt on his life and also that of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who would be on hand in the welcoming party headed by the Lebanese president. Sunday, July 11, Debkafile reported that Hizballah had massed 20,000 armed men along the border with Israel, while Israeli Defense Forces had ranged tank and armored divisions on the other side of the border. The broad outline of the visit was laid down by Lebanese Shiite lawmaker Nabih Beri and Alaedin Boroujerdi, Chairman of the Majlis foreign affairs and security committee, who was in Beirut last week to attend the funeral of the Shiite cleric Ayatollah Hassan Fadlallah. It was decided to use the occasion for the Iranian, Syrian, Qatari and Lebanese leaders to hold a war conference, essentially to plot moves for ramping up the Arab-Israeli conflict. They have already decided in principle to lay the groundwork for a high-tension crisis to erupt between Israel and Lebanon some time in September or October, by which time Tehran will be able to gauge in full how much the new sanctions are hurting Iran.
Former CIA Agent: Iran Will Hold World Hostage
July 12….(Ken Timmerman) A former CIA agent who worked undercover as a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps for over 10 years is calling for the United States to support regime change in Iran. Reza Kahlili made his first public appearance after publishing "Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran," a memoir of his years working undercover for the CIA inside revolutionary Iran, at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. Kahili warns if not stopped, Iran will "hold the world hostage once the regime obtains nuclear weapons." Even though he left Iran nearly 15 years ago, Kahlili still fears for the safety of his extended family back in Iran and so appeared in public wearing a surgical mask, sunglasses, and a baseball cap, and disguised his voice using a speech modulator. He feels the world is moving toward a war with Iran unless the United States radically changes its policy. “The reason I wrote this book was out of frustration that even to this day, we are trying to negotiate with this regime, instead of helping the Iranians with their aspirations of freedom and democracy,” he said. The United States continues to try to change the behavior of the Iranian regime through economic pressure. “Three decades of getting something wrong is enough to realize that a change of behavior is not going to happen,” Kahlili said. “That behavior has been the result of us not realizing the philosophy of the clerical establishment, the Islamic fanatics who’ve been ruling Iran from day one. "Every US administration has fallen for that. They’ve thought there could be a change of behavior, and therefore they engaged in back-channel negotiations, some of them shamefully. “I want to tell you today that any kind of hope for change of behavior is a fantasy. It’s an illusion, it’s time to put an end to that.” For 30 years the US has sought negotiations with Iran. Because of that, “today we are heading for war,” Kahlili believes. “The last choice we have right now is to come out of our shells and vocally support the Iranians and their aspirations for freedom. Cut all diplomatic ties with the Iranian regime: The European allies should do that. Cut all shipping lines, air space, put extreme pressure on the regime.” Such moves will create “cracks” within the ruling elite and prompt top level officials to flee the country, paving the way for a popular uprising, Kahlili believes. “Regime change is the only solution for the stability of the Middle East, for the future of the world, a better future. To think that we can contain these people and deter them once they obtain a nuclear bomb is another fantasy that is going to blow up in our face.” American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Ledeen, who has written several books on Iran, agreed that US support for regime change was “a moral and strategic obligation. America is the only truly revolutionary country in the world, and most people in the world who are living under tyranny know that and look to us for support,” he said. US support for pro-democracy forces inside Iran does not require a military intervention or covert support for the opposition. Ledeen added, “If the president of the United States stood up tomorrow and said, We stand with the Iranian people; we condemn these horrible violations of all principles of human rights, from women, to dissidents, to freedom of religion, to freedom of speech, it would have an electrifying effect in Iran. And President Obama is better placed than most presidents to do that because he’s gone all out to try to show that if you just talk nicely to them and have this conversation, you can work it out peacefully.” Reza Kahlili warned that the consequences of misunderstanding the ideology of Iran’s clerical rulers could be disastrous: “The ruling clerics, the fanatics right now in power, truly believe in the return of the last Messiah, the Shiites’ 12th imam, the Imam Mahdi. “This is not a joke. This is not a story. This is not something in comic books. They are counting the days for the reappearance.” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei both believe that their actions can hasten the return of the 12th imam. “They believe that if they detonate nuclear bombs over Israel and the Persian Gulf, bringing horror and a breakdown in the global economy, this will result in the Imam Mahdi coming out of a whale riding a white horse, killing the rest of us,” Kahlili said. “Our problem is that we are trying to evaluate Iran and its leaders for the past 30 years through a rational mind, because we are used to rationality here.” Western leaders think they can find economic pressure points and incentives that will compel the Iranian regime to change its behavior, even though this approach has failed, he said. “Our problem is that we cannot think outside the box.”
US Presbyterians Urge Government to end Israel Aid over Settlements
July 12….(Telegraph) Presbyterian Church publishes report on Middle East issues that was approved with 82% of the vote during the church's annual general assembly in Minneapolis. Presbyterian leaders strongly backed a proposal Friday calling for the US government to end aid to Israel unless the country stops settlement expansions in disputed Palestinian territories. The move was immediately criticized by Jewish groups. The report is meant as a guide for the denomination's more than 2 million members in many facets of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. It was approved with 82 percent of the vote during the church's annual general assembly in Minneapolis. "We feel we've brought together people who previously had trouble talking about some of these issues together," said the Rev. Karen Dimon of Northminster Presbyterian Church in North Syracuse, NY, and chairwoman of the committee that produced the 172-page report. Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said he still took issue with major aspects of the report, but said it contained important signals that could lessen long-standing tension between Presbyterians and pro-Israel Jews. He said it strengthens support for Israel's right to exist and removes comparisons of Israeli policy to apartheid. "Concerns remain, but I have hope that authentic dialogue and better relations can come of this," Felson said. The Anti-Defamation League said the report managed to avoid a rupture with Jewish people, but bias against Israel continues. The Protestant denomination's relationship with Jewish groups took a hit in 2004, when its general assembly voted to authorize phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel because of Israel's policies toward Palestinians. That stance has since been softened, and this year convention delegates voted down an amendment to the Middle East report that would have put divestment back on the table. Supporters stressed that the overarching goal of the report is to encourage activism toward peace in the Middle East.
WEEK OF JULY 5 THROUGH JULY 10
Iran to US: No Talks Until Clarify Stance on Israel Nukes
July 10….(Ha Aretz) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that the United States must make its position on Israel's nuclear strategy clear before talks on Tehran's atomic program could resume. Sanctions imposed by "arrogant" Western powers would not slow Iran's nuclear progress, he said. The United States, Europe and the United Nations have imposed sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program. Iran says its aim is to generate electricity and rejects Western suspicions it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator suggested in a letter to the European Union's foreign affairs chief this week that talks could be held as soon as September on issues including Tehran's atomic program. Speaking in Nigeria after a summit of the D8 group of developing nations, Ahmadinejad said Iran supported dialogue but blamed the United States for the failure of previous talks. Asked what conditions must be met for talks to resume, Ahmadinejad said Washington must make its position on Israel's nuclear strategy clear. "The first condition is they should express their views about the nuclear weapons of the Zionist regime. Do they agree with that or not. If they agree that these bombs should be available to them, the course of the dialogue would be different," he said. Israel is widely assumed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the region but it refuses to confirm or deny having such weapons. It has usually been spared scrutiny by its guardian ally but the Obama administration alarmed Israel in May by backing an Egyptian initiative for talks in 2012 on a Middle East free of weapons of mass-destruction. However, hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama echoed Israel's veiled justifications for having the bomb and said Israel had "unique security requirements". The White House said Obama had further pledged to keep Israel, which has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, from being "singled out" at a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna in September as well as at the Egyptian-proposed regional conference. Ahmadinejad, speaking to reporters through an interpreter, said the United States must also clarify its own commitment to non-proliferation and its position on its readiness to "resort to force".
Hezbollah Fully Reinforced in South Lebanon
July 10….(Ha Aretz) Four years after the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah can credit itself with yet another achievement in its campaign against Israel: southern Lebanon is once again in its hands. According to various assessments, the Shi'ite organization has rebuilt its military capabilities north of the Litani River, where it has established a network of missile launchers any army in the world would be proud to possess. Furthermore, it has repaired the infrastructure of the Shi'ite villages south of the Litani that were severely hit in the war. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which was deployed to southern Lebanon in 2006 in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 170, passed at the end of the war, was supposed to prevent such activity. In recent months, however, UNIFIL has been harassed by Shi'ite villagers in the southern part of the country who are apparently acting on Hezbollah's orders. The international peacekeeping force, particularly its French battalion, has been repeatedly humiliated by the local population. Villagers have hurled stones and eggs at them, and have even seized soldiers' weapons. UNIFIL's commander, Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas, this week asked the Lebanese government to protect his troops. Thus, one of Israel's chief accomplishments in the Second Lebanon War - distancing Hezbollah from its northern frontier, is slowly vanishing. The Shi'ite organization, which was dealt a severe blow in the summer of 2006, has recovered at an impressive rate in the military, civilian and political spheres.
90 Years Ago, San Remo Transformed the Middle East & Recognized Israel
July 10….(In The Days) This year marks the 90th anniversary of the resolution that transformed the Middle East and laid the groundwork for the formation of the modern state of Israel. On April 25, 1920, delegations from the Allied nations that triumphed in World War I met in San Remo, Italy, to divide the Middle Eastern lands they had conquered. That historical meeting transformed the Middle East because, for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, the world’s nations called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the land that was then called Palestine. That decision effectively answered a fundamental issue that still plagues the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks today: whether Israel is an occupying power or it has a rightful claim to the land. In San Remo, England, France, Italy, and Japan, with the United States as an observer, divided the Ottomam Empire empire into three mandates: Iraq, Syria and Palestine. Until its defeat in World War 1, the 400-year-old empire had spread itself throughout the Middle East. Now, France would oversee Syria, while Iraq and Palestine fell under Great Britain. The resolution also included the Balfour Declaration, written by England’s Lord Balfour in 1917. The declaration called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” One British diplomat, Lord Curzon, called it Israel’s “Magna Carta.” This year, on the 90th anniversary of the signing of the San Remo resolution, Tomas Sandell of the European Coalition of Israel helped organize an historic gathering. “Chaim Weizman said, at the time, you can say that the Israeli state was born on the 25th of April in San Remo because that was the significance of it,” Sandell said. Howard Grief said the resolution, which was adopted by the League of Nations, established several important precedents. In his book, The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law, Grief explains that the resolution gave the Jewish people exclusive legal and political rights in Palestine. It also gave the Arabs the same rights for the remainder of the Middle East. “The Arabs got the lion’s share. I mean they got Syria, which was subsequently divided between Syria and Lebanon,” Grief said. “They got all of Mesopotamia and all of Arabia. This is what Balfour himself said. ‘Why are you complaining? You are getting all these lands and we’re granting a niche, he called it a niche, to the Jewish people who were going to get Palestine,” he said. Grief also explained that the 1920 San Remo resolution supersedes later UN resolutions. “There is a doctrine in international law,” Grief said. “Once you recognize a certain situation, the matter is executed. You can’t change it.” “The UN General Assembly exceeded its authority, exceeded its jurisdiction. It did not have the power to divide the country,” he said.
But what about all those contested Israeli “settlements” in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) that many people, including UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, say are illegal? “Settlements are covered in Article 6 of the mandate for Palestine,” Eli Hertz, president of Myths and Facts, explained to conference participants. “Again the legal international document of the mandate for Palestine and it clearly says that not only do the Jews have the right to settlement, but the world has the obligation to help them to settle,” Hertz explained. This legal right of the Jews to build in Judea and Samaria or in east Jerusalem neighborhoods is little understood in the world today.
Is The Temple Mount Being Negotiated?
July 9….(In The Days) The many statements recently issued by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas included one where he expressed his willingness to let Israel maintain its control over Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall. Various Palestinian spokespeople and Knesset Member Dr. Ahmed Tibi were quick to stress that this willingness comes with an unequivocal Palestinian position demanding full, exclusive sovereignty over the Temple Mount. `Whatever Israel’s position on other territorial issues, we must warn against such a “deal” with the Palestinians. Moreover, during negotiations with the Palestinians in the framework of the Geneva Accord, they fought for ensuring that the term “Kotel” refer only to part of the Western Wall, the small section where Jews pray today. Hence, Abbas’ words only refer to the limited plaza at the Wailing Wall and not to the entire Western Wall, let alone the Kotel tunnels. Israel’s demand for the Western Wall is not premised on the Kotel being a holy Jewish site in and of itself. The demand is premised on the Kotel being a remnant of our Temple. Anyone recognizing our right for the Western Wall must recognize the fact that the Kotel is part of a structure or several structures that Jews have no less attachment to than the Muslims. One who has no right for the structure has no right for any wall of that structure. The 2000 Camp David talks failed, among other reasons, because Yasser Arafat argued that Israel had no right whatsoever to Temple Mount. He rejected any historical attachment between the Israel of the First and Second Temple era and the site. Prime Minister Ehud Barak rejected this approach out of hand, and rightfully so. One who agrees to repudiate Israel’s attachment to Temple Mount opens the door for denying the Jewish people any right for any part of the Land of Israel. Hence, Israel’s firm stance in respect to this attachment is more vital and fateful than any struggle for any Judea and Samaria community. No benefit will be gained today by attempting to understand why all past Israeli governments accepted the methodical Muslim destruction of our Temple’s remnants undertaken mostly deep within Temple Mount ever since Jerusalem’s liberation in 1967. Future researchers into Israel’s history will likely review documents that recorded Israeli discussions and decisions that allowed Temple Mount’s Muslim authorities and Arab Israelis to boost their hold at the site. What remains for us now, after the methodical acts of destruction in Solomon’s Stables and other sections of the site, is to firmly insist on our equal sovereign rights for Temple Mount. Even the slightest concession will mark the beginning of the countdown on any Jewish right for this land. How sad it is to recall Mordechai Gur’s touching call “Temple Mount is in our hands,” uttered in the wake of bitter battles and such high casualty toll. The Mount remained in our hands for several hours only, and future generations will look into the reasons for handing it over to our enemies immediately after the victory, without getting anything in return and without eliciting any understanding for our right to the site. Indeed, people work in mysterious ways.
Presbyterian Leaders Approves Gay Clergy Policy
July 9….(Newsmax) Presbyterian leaders voted Thursday to allow non-celibate gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy, approving the first of two policy changes that could make their church one of the most gay-friendly major Christian denominations in the US But the vote isn't a final stamp of approval for the Presbyterian Church (USA) or its more than 2 million members. Delegates voted during the church's general assembly in Minneapolis, with 53 percent approving the more liberal policy on gay clergy. A separate vote is expected later Thursday on whether to change the church's definition of marriage from between "a man and a woman" to between "two people." Such changes must be approved by a majority of the church's 173 US presbyteries before they can take effect. Two years ago, the assembly voted to liberalize the gay clergy policy, but it died last year when 94 of the presbyteries voted against it. Under current church policy, Presbyterians are only eligible to become clergy, deacons or elders if they are married or celibate. The new policy would strike references to sexuality altogether in favor of candidates committed to "joyful submission to worship of Christ." "What this is about is making sure we uphold what Christ taught us, to not judge one another," said Dan Roth, a church elder from Sacramento. "We will no longer have to tell our brothers and sisters in Christ that they lie about who they are." But critics said the move toward more liberal policy would simply create disputes and bad feelings in Presbyterian churches nationwide. "If we are once again conflicted with this question in our presbyteries, all the air will be sucked out of the room," said the Rev. William Reid Dalton III of Burlington, NC. "All the other things, the important issues we need to consider will not considered." Presbyterian Church (USA) is ranked the 10th-largest church in the US with 2.8 million members, according to the National Council of Churches' 2010 "Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches." The church's media materials tout 2.1 million members. Several major Christian denominations have voted in recent years to allow non-celibate gays to serve as clergy if they are in committed relationships. Among them are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the US Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ. Benjamin Wind, a nonvoting young adult delegate to the assembly from Syracuse, NY, said Presbyterians of his generation greatly favor the change. "The world has become a more tolerant and accepting place," Wind said. "I've grown up with gay and lesbian friends, teachers, even spiritual leaders. They stand proud as people who deserve the same rights as all human beings." Leaders of the Presbyterian Renewal Network, a conservative group within the church, said allowing non-celibate gay people to serve as clergy would amount to "removing the moral standard for our ministers." Other delegates warned that liberalizing such policies would put the Presbyterian church in opposition to its cohorts in other parts of the world, where the denomination is seeing much of its new growth. Delegates also are considering removing the threat of punishment for clergy who perform same-sex marriages in states where it's legal.
Netanyahu: Peace Possible Within Year
July 9….(YNET) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel would not extend a construction moratorium in the West Bank past September and that he believed a peace agreement with the Palestinians could be reached within a year. I think we've done enough. Let's get on with the talks," he said, when asked in an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations whether he would extend the limited freeze he put in place to coax the Palestinians into peace negotiations. At the forum, Netanyahu repeated a call to the Palestinians to move from indirect talks that began in May under US mediation to face-to-face negotiations on statehood. "I think we should seize the moment. And it is a challenging moment and an important moment. We have the ability to negotiate a peace," Netanyahu said at the international affairs think tank in New York. "And I'm prepared to take risks," Netanyahu added, while stressing that would not entail any move that could jeopardize Israel's security. "But we have to get on with it. We should just stop all the delays and start now, next week, in two weeks, get the talks going. Because only if we start them, we can complete them." Netanyahu said he intended "to confound the skeptics and critics." But he added: "I need a partner." The future of settlements, he said, would be addressed in the so-called final status talks with the Palestinians.
Hamas Sends Patients to Israel for Care
July 9….(Israel National News) Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv treats up to 100 patients a month from Gaza, and often Hamas takes the role of middleman between Gaza residents and the Israeli hospital, Ichilov Director Professor Gabi Barabash said Thursday. Barabash spoke to Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara, a resident of the Druze village of Dalyat El Carmel near Haifa, who was touring the hospital and viewing its care for foreign Arab patients. In addition to caring for patients from Gaza, the Ichilov staff treats many citizens of foreign Arab countries, including those that have no diplomatic ties with Israel. They all receive dedicated care, and the relatives who accompany them are provided with free food and a place to stay, Barabash said. Kara praised the hospital's care at the end of the tour. Ichilov treats all of its patients equally, he said, but it is not the only one, and hospitals throughout the country send hundreds of people home to Gaza in good health each month after they arrived in Israel suffering from serious ailments. He condemned Hamas for benefiting from the arrangement while giving nothing in return. “The time has come for Hamas to give us something small in return,” he said, “to release a single son of ours, who has been held for four years with no medical care, in exchange for the hundreds of people whose lives Israel saves every month.” Kara called on Arab countries to take action: “I call on those Arab countries that are aware of how much we give them when it comes to medicine to call for Gilad Shalit's release as well.” Shalit's release would “make the peace talks much more meaningful,” he added.
Moscow to Wave Iran's Bushehr Reactor Running by September
July 9….(DEBKA) Moscow and Tehran have announced that the nuclear reactor Russia is building Iran at Bushehr, its first, has completed all its test-runs and will be up and running in early September - ahead of schedule. Debkafile's military sources reported several times in recent months that the Iranian reactor at Bushehr is not just a power plant but also has military applications. Chief among them is the reuse of its fuel rods to produce plutonium as atomic weapon fuel. Wednesday, July 7, Ali Akbar Salehi, chairman of the Iranian Atomic Energy Commission, said: "Today we passed the hot water test, one of the Bushehr power plant's most important and final tests before its inauguration." He admitted UN, US and European sanctions would slow the pace of the Iranian nuclear program, but not affect the activation of the Bushehr reactor. Thursday, July 8, Atomstroyexport, the Russian company building the Iranian reactor, confirmed this: "Efficiency tests of the reactor equipment and supporting technological systems were held," said the firm's spokesman in Moscow. "We finished the so-called hot operational testing that was the final stage before launch." The Russian company did not mention when the reactor would go on stream, but back on March 18, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a summit of senior Russian officials in southern Russia: "The first reactor at Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr is to be launched already in the summer." Since he made this remark while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Moscow, it was taken as a Russian signal to Washington that while willing to support expanded UN sanctions, Russia had no intention of abandoning its nuclear cooperation with Tehran. Clinton's response was: "In the absence of those reassurances (from Iran regarding the nature of its nuclear program), we (the Americans) think it would be premature to go forward with any project at this time." And indeed, on June 9, Russia voted with 11 UN Security Council members in favor of the US motion to expand sanctions against Iran for failing to comply with international obligations on its nuclear program. At the same time, Moscow remained opposed to unilateral sanctions outside the world body. This was stated by special emissary to Tehran, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, after the European Union and the United States imposed their own sanctions, including President Barack Obama's signature on an embargo on refined fuel products and a ban on business with Iranian banks. Thursday, July 8, Moscow then leaned further in Tehran's favor, calling for the world powers to consider Iran's proposals for a compromise on their nuclear controversy, not just their own, when negotiations are resumed. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that the negotiations can only begin in September. It would therefore seem that the concatenation of the two events - diplomacy and the launching of the Bushehr reactor, points to Russia's new emphasis on improving its relations with Iran and willingness to take its side in the forthcoming nuclear dialogue
Abbas Called for Arab Invasion of Israel
July 8….(Israel Today) Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, branded a "moderate" by the international community, let his true colors show during a recent meeting with writers and journalists when he stated that he would favor a pan-Arab military offensive against the Jewish state. The official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on Tuesday wrote that when Abbas met recently with media figures at the home of the Palestinian ambassador to Jordan, he recounted that during an Arab League Summit in Libya in March he told his fellow leaders that he still preferred war against Israel, but could not do it alone. "We are unable to confront Israel militarily, and this point was discussed at the Arab League Summit," said Abbas. "There I turned to the Arab States and I said: 'If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor. But the Palestinians will not fight alone because they don't have the ability to do it.'" The Arab states of the Middle East have tried at least three times to militarily destroy Israel, but each time ended up losing territory to the Jewish state. The "Palestinian crisis" that was birthed after Israel's liberation of Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") in 1967 is seen by many Israelis as nothing more than a more calculated and patient approach to ultimately removing Israel from the map. Yasser Arafat admitted as much in 1993 when he told fellow Palestinians in a pre-recorded message played on Arab television as he signed the "Oslo Accords," that his PLO's guerilla tactics and eventual land-for-peace diplomacy was a phased strategy that would lead to the complete replacement of Israel with another Arab Muslim state: "Do not forget that our Palestine National Council accepted the decision in 1974. It called for the establishment of a national authority on any part of Palestinian land that is liberated or from which the Israelis withdrew. This is the moment of return, the moment of gaining a foothold on the first liberated Palestinian land." The 1974 decision referenced by Arafat was the PLO's official acceptance of a phased strategy for destroying Israel, as opposed to the more direct strategy of military conquest that had been employed up until the Yom Kippur War a year earlier. Despite co-founding the PLO with Arafat, Abbas has long been whitewashed by an international community eager to impose its idea of peaceful conflict resolution on the region. That is why Abbas' remarks in Arabic, such as the one above, are regularly ignored by the world media and Western leaders. But Israelis warn that his views, and the influence they have an the Palestinian general public, ensure that a genuine and lasting peace is impossible to achieve.
IDF Reveals Hezbollah's Deployment
(Information obtained by IDF exposes Hezbollah's immense scope of activity in south Lebanon,
in preparation for next clash with Israel)
July 8….(YNET) The Israeli Defense Forces revealed on Wednesday aerial photographs of sites at the village of al-Khiam in southern Lebanon, where the IDF suspects Hezbollah is storing various weapons and even operating headquarters and control centers. Colonel Ronen Marley, commander of the western brigade at the northern border, commented on the rearmament of Hezbollah: "An event can take place today, or a year from now; I am ready for it to happen by surprise. We are operating in different ways to thwart any event, if one should take place, we will know how to handle it." Colonel Marley added that the Hezbollah has recently been collecting intelligence on IDF forces, and sometimes operates in civilian guise. The organization was also engaged in infrastructure works that would prepare it for future fighting. A senior military source claimed that increased cooperation between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah is giving them an operational advantage and increases their effectiveness ahead of a clash with the IDF. However, the IDF emphasized that despite reports of a new radar operating in Syria, this claim was not familiar to them. The material presented by the military revealed that 23,000 residents live in the village where al-Khiam Detention Center was operating while the IDF controlled the safety zone in southern Lebanon. According to information obtained by the security establishment, Hezbollah was now preparing the grounds for the next round of battle with Israel. The army noted that some 90 activists were operating in the village vicinity, most of them belonging to special forces that are preparing, as soon as they receive the order, to lie in wait for IDF forces, alongside a "welcome" of various demolition charges, anti-tank missiles and pits filled with explosives. The IDF decided to present the information in order to demonstrate Hezbollah's scope of activity against Israel, four years after the 2nd Lebanon War. The information also revealed that hundreds of short-range mortar shells and rockets have been stored in al-Khiam, and as in the past, intentionally placed adjacent to public institutions, schools and medical facilities. A military source told Ynet that the images from al-Khiam are not exclusive, and that similar operations were taking place in the entire area. "What you see in this village, you can see in all villages in southern Lebanon. There are some 20,000 activists whose job is, in fact, to act against IDF forces from within the village. When the time comes, they will give our forces a real fight," the source said.
UN Warns of Renewed Violence Between Hezbollah and Israel
(Ban Ki-moon says allegations of Scud missile transfer to Shiite group causing increase in tension between Israel, Hezbollah)
July 8….(YNET) The United Nations has warned of renewed violence between Lebanese group Hezbollah and its arch foe Israel following accusations the Shiite party had received sophisticated missiles. "Amidst allegations of continued arms transfers to Hezbollah, a perceptible increase in tension between the parties was recorded," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP in Beirut on Friday. "This raised the specter of a miscalculation by either party leading to a resumption of hostilities, with potentially devastating consequences for Lebanon and the region," read the 13th report on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The resolution brought to an end a deadly war between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, which destroyed much of Lebanon's major infrastructure and killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mainly soldiers. The resolution also beefed up the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a peacekeeping force tasked with overseeing the ceasefire and monitoring the UN-drawn Blue Line separating Lebanon and Israel. Ban's report reiterated that Hezbollah's existing weapons were a clear violation of Security Council resolutions, but added it had no evidence of "unauthorized transfer" of weapons in UNIFIL's area of operations in southern Lebanon. The allegations were sparked by Israeli President Shimon Peres in April when he accused Hezbollah's backer Syria of supplying the movement with long-range Scud missiles, a charge Damascus has staunchly denied. Washington further fed the controversy, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warning Syrian President Bashar Assad about the risks of triggering a regional war if he supplied the Shiite group with the missiles. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has refused to confirm or deny the Scud allegations, saying his party had a "legal" right to own any weapons it wished.
Lieberman: US Prepared to Strike Iran to Stop Nuclear Weapons
July 8….(Newsmax) The United States may be forced to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities if diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic fail, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Wednesday after a meeting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem. Appearing at a news conference with Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, Lieberman was unusually harsh in his assessment of the Iranian threat. There is a broad consensus in Congress that military force can be used if necessary to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he said. Lieberman cited a recent set of sanctions Congress passed against Iran as a potential deterrent. But he insisted that the goal of keeping Iran from becoming a nuclear power will be accomplished "through diplomatic and economic sanctions if we possibly can, through military actions if we must," according to The Associated Press. Although US officials often say no option should be taken off the table in relation to Iran's nuclear program, this is one of the few times an official of Lieberman's standing has explicitly used the term "military action" while in Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Netanyahu: Israel Ready to Take Risks for Peace
(UN secretary-general meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu, expresses support of moving to direct negotiations with Palestinians)
July 8….(YNET) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed his support of a move to direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible, in order to advance a peace agreement in the region. The UN chief thanked Netanyahu for easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu thanked his host for his leadership and his friendship and said the Israeli public is willing to take risks for peace. However, the prime minister stressed that any future agreement must ensure but any future arrangement needs to guarantee the cessation of rocket fire into Israel. The two also discussed the Israeli raid on the Turkish flotilla to Gaza, and the implementation of UN Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War. Before the meeting, Netanyahu met with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and outlined to him Israel's concerns about the rise of an eastern front after the US troops withdraw from Iraq. Netanyahu expressed concern that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, coupled with the strengthening of Iran might lead to a new "eastern front" against Israel. During his visit, the prime minister is slated appear on a series of interviews with US' leading TV networks.
Meanwhile, the positive meeting between Obama and Netanyahu was received frigidly in the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. "The key to direct talks is in the hand of Prime Minister Netanyahu," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "The minute he announces a (total) settlement freeze, the minute he announces the resumption of final status (talks) where we left them in December 2008, we will have direct talks," he said. The Hamas movement on Wednesday warned the Palestinian Authority against resuming the negotiations. According to Hamas spokesman, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, the Obama-Netanyahu meeting proved that there was no chance for a change in the American policy in light of the continued American support for Israel. "Returning to negotiations with the occupation would be a national crime and provide the enemy with a cover up to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people and its holy places," Abu Zuhri warned.
Turkey Not Only Ripping Israel, Also Making Pals With Iran
July 8….(Arutz) The significant warming of relations between Iran and Turkey in the last several weeks has been reflected in a hot new trading market between small businesses in the two countries. A brigade of Turkish small businessmen dubbed the "Anatolian Tigers" has made major inroads into the Iranian marketplace since the election of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, according to Lebanese English-language daily The Daily Star. They are now providing textiles and small machinery to the Islamic Republic, and performing money transfers according to Islamic tradition. In early June, Turkey voted against US-led UN sanctions against Iran, which were meant to deter President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from continuing Iran's nuclear program. The move, while offensive to the West and therefore potentially costly to Turkey, served to improve relations between Turkey and Iran. Turkey, which is a secular Islamic state, has regarded Iran as a threat to its secular character since the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979. However in 2010, Iran will be Turkey's 12th largest customer for Turkish exports. The European Union is currently Turkey's number one customer. According to the Star, the reason for Ankara's rejection of sanctions on Tehran in June's UN vote may have been a massive gas contract between the two countries. Iran supplies almost a third of Turkey's gas.
Netanyahu-Obama Discuss Nuclear Issues, Iran's and Israel's
July 7….(DEBKA) Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was assured of a much friendlier and correct White House welcome for his fifth encounter with President Barack Obama July 6, compared with the unmannerly treatment meted out to him on March 23. Still, five time bombs with short fuses are ticking under their seats on issues on which the US president's internationalist, diplomacy-first attitude is far from Israel's survivalist, security-first strategic outlook on a number of basic issues. Both will try to overcome their mutual mistrust. Their respective approaches to Iran's drive for a nuclear weapon and the future of Israel's reputed nuclear arsenal are the most combustible of their five topics of discussion. The US and Israel clearly do not see eye on eye on how and when to take action against Iran. On June 17, defense secretary Robert Gates said Iran was developing the capability to fire scores or hundreds of missiles at Europe. Ten days later, he reported Iran had enough low-enriched uranium to start building two atom bombs within two years. So by the time the new UN sanctions and the complementary measures Obama approved Friday, July 2 start biting and affecting Tehran's decision-making, the last moment for halting the construction of a nuclear bomb will have come and gone. On June 28, Adm. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff commented that the US and Israel are "in sync" over the time needed to find out if the sanctions are working or not. debkafile's military sources describe this assertion as a pious hope rather than established fact, because even the US president cannot be absolutely sure Israel will not launch a surprise attack on Iran's nuclear facilities before it is too late. Until now, he applied the brakes on Israeli action by two means: One by a constant flow of senior American military and intelligence figures to Israel every couple of days and frequent invitations to security minister Ehud Barak and Israeli military leaders to visit the US; second, by a personal presidential pledge to Netanyahu that if Israel holds off from striking Iran, he will continue to back Israel on matters essential to its security. One such matter is the policy of ambiguity with regard to Israel's nuclear arsenal, i.e., never confirming its existence. For Jerusalem, this pledge was cast in doubt by Washington's decision, against Israeli protests, to support the resolution calling for a nuclear-free Middle East tabled by Egypt for the Arab and Non-Aligned blocs at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that took place in Washington in May. This motion demanded that Israel join the NPT and accept international inspectors of its nuclear facilities. Israel was further angered by the fact that Iran and its nuclear weapons program were not even mentioned in the resolution. Although US officials explained that a vote for the motion was obligatory given Obama's comprehensive quest for a world without nuclear weapons. Although Israel's government and security leaders never said this in so many words, they felt the administration had let them down on a key pledge and freed them of the commitment to refrain from a surprise attack on Iran. The Israeli prime minister and US president, in their talks Tuesday, must therefore forge a new "nuclear accord" governing both Iran and Israel. Assent on this question could ease the discord on four other key issues:
1. Netanyahu says the "proximity talks," formally started two months ago, have never really taken off, and progress on the topics at issue with the Palestinians demand direct talks for which he is fully prepared at any moment and for which Mahmoud Abbas has pre-conditions. The Israeli prime minister will discuss with the US president various formats for getting this dialogue on track, including a US-Saudi "Marshall Plan" for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip that came up during Saudi King Abdullah's visit to the White House on June 29.
2. They will also explore ways for Israel to go back to construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements, even nominally, after the 10-month freeze expires on Sept. 26 to ease the pressure on Netanyahu at home. Several Knesset factions held off until after the prime minister's White House visit a bill requiring the government to seek a parliamentary majority for any further suspension of construction. The US will demand closer monitoring of any future freeze.
3. The crisis between Turkey and Israel. So far, Washington had avoided guaranteeing to withhold its support from a UN Assembly motion calling for an international commission to probe the flotilla incident in which Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish vessel leading a convoy for breaking Israel's Gaza blockade and ended in a clash in which 9 Turkish activists were killed and 6 Israelis injured. Israel's eased embargo on civilian goods to Gaza was widely welcomed. The two leaders will explore a possible joint US-Israeli stand against Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Recip Erdogan in view of his deepening bonds with the Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah-Hamas bloc.
4. They will also discuss how the US and Israel can work together against the continued flow of heavy weaponry, including ballistic missiles, from Syria to the Lebanese Shiite terrorist Hizballah.
Hezbollah on US-Mexico Border
July 7….(Newsmax) A Hezbollah terror cell may be operating among drugs cartels around the US-Mexican border, announced US Republican National Committee Rep. Sue Myrick, according to a Fox News report. Myrick requested that US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano create a special team to further investigate the potential problem and threat. The Republican representative referenced several incidents that show evidence of Hezbollah's efforts to infiltrate the US region with the aid of Mexican drug cartel gangs. "It is vital we know what is happening on our border, especially as crime and violence continue to rise there and as terrorist plots and threats are increasing inside the US," quoted the Fox News report. Myrick cited the warming relationship between Iran and Venezuela as proof that Hezbollah members may be collaborating with Latin American drug cartels, who may be utilizing Hezbollah's ability to dig underground tunnels for drug smuggling and in turn, providing funding, document forging, and false identities. The Fox News report referenced Anthony Placido, assistant administrator for intelligence at the Drug Enforcement Administration, testifying at a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee in March this year, that some drug smugglers in the US-Mexico region have had relationships with Hezbollah between the 1980s and 1990s. "There are numerous reports of cocaine proceeds entering the coffers of Islamic Radical Groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas," Fox News quoted Placido when he testified to the subcommittee. Placido labeled the proceeds as "easy revenue" that could potentially be used to fund terrorism. Fox News also cited a 2006 House Homeland Security Committee report which details incidents of Hezbollah operatives who were apprehended when trying to access the US through Mexico. The report mentions Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, a Hezbollah member who pleaded guilty in 2005 for supplying information to the terror organization after he was smuggled in the US through Mexico, and lived in Dearborn, Michigan.
Obama Accepts Israel's Nuclear Stance as A Unique Security Need
July 7….(DEBKA) US President Barack Obama indicated this at the end of his White House conversation with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday, July 6, which both called "excellent." What he said was there had been "no change" in US policy in the wake of the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in May, which called on Israel to join the treaty. The US president stressed that given its size, history and the levels of threat Israel faces: "We will not ask Israel to take steps that endanger its security." Debkafile's Washington sources: This was taken to mean that the US policy of ambiguity regarding Israel's reported nuclear arsenal was unchanged and Israel would not be pressed to joint the NPT. Netanyahu praised the latest round of UN sanctions against Iran and the new US measures. He urged other countries to follow the US president's lead and initiate much tougher sanctions. Only then will it be possible to tell if they are biting enough to prevent Iran attaining a nuclear weapon, said the Israeli prime minister. The US president did not reply directly when asked if he had asked Israel to extend the 10-month settlement-Jerusalem construction freeze when it expires on September 26. He said he hoped the right climate would enable face-to-face talks to go forward by September and stressed he believes Israel and its prime minister are serious about peace and will take risks to achieve it. He added that the Israeli people deserved a secure peace, not Iran's proxies next door or rockets falling on them and repeated his call for Palestinian sovereignty and two states living side by side in peace. Confidence-building steps on both sides were important, said Obama. He had discussed Mahmoud Abbas the need to stop "engaging in provocative language, incitement and looking for opportunities to embarrass Israel." While the US president denied any rift with Israel, Netanyahu praised the cooperation with the US in fields which they both listed as the economy, international relations, military, maintaining Israel's military edge and intelligence-sharing, in ways not always made public Netanyahu added that the special US-Israel bond, which both termed "unbreakable," was beneficial to the region.
Syria: The Prospect of War Grows
(Assad says Israel-Turkey rift threatens stability of the region)
July 6….(JPOST) Syrian President Bashar Assad warned that the current rift in Israel-Turkey relations threatens the stability of the Middle East, and said "the chances of peace grow slim, and the prospect of war grows." Speaking at a press conference in Madrid Monday, Assad said that if "relations between Israel and Turkey are not renewed, it will be very difficult for Turkey to continue its role in the peace negotiations." Relations between the two countries deteriorated in the wake of Israel's raid on the ship Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the death of nine Turkish citizens. Assad called Turkey a crucial part of the peace process, saying "Turkey knows the ins and outs of the Middle East," and "there was never such a significant factor as Turkey for peace talks, and the stability of the region." Relations between Israel and Turkey frayed further today after Turkey threatened to cut ties with Israel unless Israel issued a formal apology for the flotilla raid. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded that Israel had "no intention of apologizing to Turkey." Last week, reports surfaced that Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer had conducted a secret meeting with Davutoglu in Zurich, causing tensions to rise between the foreign minister and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “The foreign minister views very gravely the fact that this was done without informing the Foreign Ministry,” said a statement put out by Lieberman’s office. The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement of its own, saying that the failure to inform Lieberman of the meeting was due to “technical” reasons.
(Syrian president disappointed with lack of progress on ME peace)
July 6….(Ha Aretz) The Obama administration’s failure to facilitate change in the Middle East shows that it is weak, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday during a visit to Latin America amid rising regional tensions over last month’s Gaza flotilla incident and increasing efforts to defuse the Iranian threat. Assad was quoted Monday in the Argentine daily Clarín as saying that Washington did not “seem to be able to manage a peace process from beginning to end.” He added that while the US was capable of pulling “all its weight” to support a peace process, the current administration has so far proved to be impractical and unable to gain the backing of Congress. “Afghanistan is worse than before,” said Assad, stressing that the situation in Iraq had not changed and ties with Syria remained stagnant despite US President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would dispatch a new ambassador to Damascus.
Assad says nuke spotlight should be on Israel as well as Iran
While criticizing the Obama administration, Assad had only words of praise for rising players in global and regional diplomacy, namely Turkey and Brazil, who recently brokered a deal to enrich Iran’s uranium on Turkish soil. The move, said Assad, transfers “essential political weight from a few countries in the North, such as Europe and the US, to others in the world.” Assad expressed hope that initiative would lead to increased cooperation between the less affluent countries south of the equator. On the nuclear issue, he said only that Syria wishes to prevent an “uncontrollable” arms race and “transform the Middle East into a zone free of nuclear weapons, if Israel continues to be a nuclear power from a military point of view, unfortunately this race will take off some day”. The Syrian president said Iran’s “aggressive strategy” was actually assisting Israeli right-wingers who “have said that Arabs are snakes.” The focus, he said, should be on Israel’s statements as well as Iran’s.
July 6….(Newsmax) Very few residents dare to drive on one of the roads out of this watering-hole for migrants, fearing they will be stopped at gunpoint. They worry they will be told to turn around after their gas tanks are drained or, worse, be kidnapped or killed. A shootout that left 21 people dead and six wounded on the road last week is the most gruesome sign that a relatively tranquil pocket of northern Mexico is quickly turning into a hotbed of drug-fueled violence on Arizona's doorstep. The violence in recent months is grist for supporters of the state's tough new law against illegal immigration, who are eager to portray the border as a lawless battlefield of smugglers both of drugs and humans. Nogales, the main city in the region, which shares a border with the Arizona city of the same name, has had 131 murders so far this year, nearly surpassing 135 for all of 2009, according to a tally by the newspaper Diario de Sonora. That includes two heads found Thursday stuffed side by side between the bars of a cemetery fence. The carnage still pales compared to other Mexican border cities, most notably Ciudad Juarez, which lies across from El Paso, Texas, which had 2,600 murders last year. But the increase shows that some small cattle-grazing towns near Nogales are now in the grip of drug traffickers who terrorize residents. The violence is concentrated in a few villages in the mountainous desert area of Rio Altar, which, until recently, drew tourists for its handsome churches, its river, a tilapia-filled lake and cooler temperatures. The roads wind through mountains of mesquite trees and saguaro cactus. That's where Thursday's pre-dawn shootout occurred, just 12 miles south of the border, on a deserted stretch between the villages of Tubutama and Saric. Eight vehicles and numerous weapons were found in what authorities described as a confrontation between rival gangs competing for drug and immigration routes into the US. The windows and panels of some vehicles were painted with X's in white shoe polish, said Fernando Pompa, a police officer in Altar who visited the scene. Bullet casings littered the pavement. The territory is disputed between Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who heads the Sinaloa cartel, and the Beltran Leyva cartel, whose leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in a shootout last December with Mexican marines in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City. Locals trace the wave of violence to the arrest in February of Jose Vazquez Villagrana, nicknamed "El Jaibil," or "The Wild Boar." Vazquez, reported to be an ally of Guzman, was captured by federal police in the nearby town of Santa Ana. Many people have fled in the last few months, said one resident whose family has longtime roots in a village near the shootings. He asked that his only his first name, Luis, be published because he fears for his safety. His relatives abandoned their homes this spring to join him in a larger city where he lives. "This began like a cancer in the finger and now it is spreading to other parts of the body," he said. "There comes a time when the government has absolutely no control." Luis said schools closed early this year without explanation. Soft-drink vendors and electricity meter readers refuse to come. Tubutama, a village of about 1,500 people with no hotel, restaurant or gas station, canceled its annual town fair last month for the first time in memory. The move came after the town's comptroller and director of public works were murdered. Journalists who cover the small villages stopped visiting several months ago, saying it is too dangerous. "If no one puts a stop to this, these will become ghost towns," said Jose Martin Mayoral, editor of Diario del Desierto, the newspaper in Caborca. Despite its small size, many motorists used to pass through Tubutama because it is a hub for local roads. Now they drive longer distances on a toll road. "It's very dangerous," said Alvaro Celaya, 57, a taxi driver in Altar, which sits just outside the danger zone. "No one will take you there anymore." Altar, a town of about 10,000 people with a yellow-domed Roman Catholic church in its central square, has been spared the violence but is only about 15 miles from Tubutama. The town's economy was booming a few years ago with taxi drivers, restaurants and lodging houses that catered to migrants preparing to cross the US border illegally in the Arizona desert. Now, a scarcity of jobs because of the US economic downturn is keeping illegal immigrants away, causing Altar to fall on hard times as well. Ana Maria Velasquez, who volunteers at the church, said there used to be 50 candles on an altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe, each left by a migrant as a good-luck ritual before crossing the border. On Sunday, there was only one. "The migrants sustained this town," said Velasquez, 29. "Now that the flow is down, we're very bad off economically." On many afternoons, Altar police set up checkpoints to warn residents on the road to Tubutama that it is a risky trip, said Pompa, the police officer. More than 23,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug violence since President Felipe Calderon launched an all-out offensive on cartels in 2006.
Influential Pastor Warns About Socialism, Departure From God
July 5….(Charles Stanley) America currently stands in a very dangerous position, said renowned pastor and author Dr. Charles Stanley. Today more than ever, the country is turning away from God and moving closer toward socialism, he warned. And the consequences will be grave. We know the truth, we know the principles of God. In spite of all that, we find ourselves as a nation violating the laws of God, heading in a direction that is going to be disastrous for us, for our children and the generations that are to come unless there is a change," he said. Speaking to thousands at First Baptist Church of Atlanta and to a live Web audience on Friday, Stanley delivered a sobering 4th of July message about a dangerous spiritual tide that is engulfing the country and the crucial need for prayer. "There is a tide that has touched the shores of our land and reached the heart of our nation," he said against the backdrop of the US flag. "It is a tide that is bringing with it ideas and philosophies, actions and attitudes that will ultimately destroy the way of life that you and I have." The influential pastor and founder of In Touch Ministries listed 12 things involved in the tide. Among them are the financial crisis and the move toward socialism. With the national debt rising by the billions every day and increasing taxation, future generations will likely be left with a debt so heavy that they'll never be able to spend most of what they make, he said. Addressing the idea of spreading the wealth, Stanley emphasized, "It is not the government's responsibility to take care of us. It is to protect us. "We're responsible for taking care of ourselves." Socialism, he pointed out, is opposed primarily to Christianity and Judaism. "In Christianity, we're taught to do our best because we've been gifted by God. So there's motivation, willingness and we cooperate," he explained. "We use our spiritual gifts for the good of everyone." But under a socialist society, in which the government controls all means of production and distribution, there is no motivation for diligence and creativity is stifled, he said. When there is less reward, there is less to give. And as evidenced in the recent downturn, what suffers first is supporting missionary work. "You see, it affects every single aspect of society," Stanley warned. He added, "Naturally, when the government takes control, do you think that freedom of speech is always going to be there?" "The tide is bringing in a control that will indeed attempt to silence the truth and will attempt to squash the religious devotion and worship of the people of God." That tide began creeping in many years ago, he noted, when the government and the courts began banning prayer at schools and removing references to Jesus, God and the Ten Commandments from the public square, Stanley noted. "It is an attempt to destroy the Christian spirit in America," he said. "There is a war going on against Jesus," he declared. "It's part of the strategy. The primary reason for this war against Him is He is interfering with the plan to make this a socialist nation. Mark it down. It is the truth." Among the other elements of the dangerous tide are: terrorism, turning our backs on Israel, the announcement that the United States is not a Christian nation, increasing national disasters, a departure from the biblical view of marriage, and support for killing the unborn, Stanley listed. "Mark this down for socialism because these three groups of people who do not contribute to the state are of no value: unborn babies, the elderly and those who are disabled," said the Atlanta pastor. With the tide moving fast, Stanley issued a charge to Christians to turn it around. He called believers to join him in 140 days of humbling themselves, repenting of sins and praying to God. "The Bible says judgment begins at the house of God. We're not expecting lost people to do all this because this is the work of the people of God; it is our responsibility," he stressed. "A lot of where we are is because of our apathy. We haven't prayed for these men who are making decisions." "Do you want this nation to keep going where it's going or do you want us to get back on track?" he posed. Prayer, he said, is the one thing he knows that works. "Do you believe God answers prayer?" he asked. "Pray for God to change the direction of this tide." He added that those prayers have to be backed up with righteousness and a godly life if they are to be effective and nation-altering. "There has never been a nation like these United States. We do not want it to fail or to fall."
Charles Stanley said the following on Israel and the United States 37 minutes into his message: One of the most disastrous decisions we [our nation] are going to make, and you can mark it down, when we turn our back on Israel, we will not escape the judgment. We will not. And that is exactly the tone we are hearing out of Washington. You say, well, Israel is just a little piece of land over there, what is so significant about that? God! He said I will bless those who bless you, and I will punish those who do otherwise. How do you explain this? How do you explain that little band of people who just came back and took their land? Secondly, how do you explain this? There are enough hoards of people in the world who could just overwhelm them. And in spite of all the criticism they get there, they are poised and ready to defend themselves, no matter what. It is a dangerous thing to turn away from the nation of Israel. Yet, that is the exact tone we keeping hearing and I just want to say to you, mark it down, it will be a move that we [the US] will never get over.
Netanyahu Hopes Obama Meeting Will Lead to Direct Mideast Talks
(US President to host PM on Tuesday; Netanyahu tells cabinet: There is no substitute for direct negotiations)
July 5….(Ha Aretz) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he hopes his upcoming meeting with President Barack Obama will lead to the current indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks being replaced by direct negotiations between the sides. "The main goal of the talks with President Obama will be to advance direct talks in the peace process between us and the Palestinians," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "On the issue of direct talks, there is no substitute for entering into such negotiations, one cannot raise ideas in either the media or by other means, and avoid that direct contact, that is the only possible way to bring about a solution to the conflict between us and the Palestinians. We are 10 minutes apart. Ramallah almost touches Jerusalem," an official cabinet communique quoted him as saying Netanyahu is due to meet Obama in Washington on Tuesday. Indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks got under way in April, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had initially refused to conduct negotiations until Israel ceased all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The White House said Friday that the four rounds of talks, mediated by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who shuttles between Jerusalem and Ramallah, have been "quite substantive" so far. But Palestinians have denied that progress has been made, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit was quoted by a pan-Arab daily Saturday as saying that Mitchell's approach to the indirect talks might require 10 years to achieve results. Palestinians also denied a report in the London-based al-Hayat daily, which claimed Saturday that Abbas has agreed that in any peace agreement Israel can retain control of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site still in use, and of the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Egypt FM: Arab League Will Declare Palestinian State if Peace Talks Fail
(Top Palestinian negotiator Erekat refutes reports claiming that Abbas had offered Israel a West Bank land swap as part of a final status peace agreement)
July 5 ….(Ha Aretz) The Arab League will turn to the United Nations Security Council to declare an independent Palestinian state if peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians do not bear fruit by September, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm on Saturday. According to the al-Masry al-Youm report, the Arab League decision was based on UNSC resolution 1515, which calls for regional Middle East peace, based on the two-state solution. The Egyptian FM said in the interview that it was important to establish a Palestinian state at least in principle, while garnering international support for the main elements of a permanence peace deal with Israel. Earlier, Abul Gheit, speaking to the London-based Arabic newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, criticized the United States for failing to advance the Middle East peace process and said that the conduct of Washington's envoy to the region, George Mitchell, would not bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians even 10 years from now. Aboul Gheit said that Palestinian Authority President Abbas had delivered a series of written proposals to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including concrete steps to reach final-status agreements on contentious issues such as borders and security arrangements. On Sunday, chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed that Abbas did not offer Israel a possible West Bank land swap as part of a final status peace agreement, told Israel Radio on Sunday. Erakat's comments contradict a report in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al Hayat, according to which Abbas proposed a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with a possible land swap of 2.3 percent of the West Bank to ensure a fair solution for Israeli settlement blocs. Erekat told Israel Radio that the PA president had not made such an offer, adding that the current US-brokered indirect talks were to remain secret. Al Hayat reported over the weekend that the Palestinians agreed to leave settlement blocs including Gush Etzion, Pisgat Ze'ev and Modi'in Ilit, along with a swath of land overlooking Ben-Gurion International Airport, in Israeli hands. In exchange, the PA would receive land of comparable size and quality in the southern West Bank as well as a corridor between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Abbas also reportedly proposed easing Palestinian demands over East Jerusalem to permit the Jewish Quarter of the Old City as well as the Western Wall to remain under Israeli sovereignty. The remainder of the Old City, he proposed, would become the capital of a Palestinian state but fully open to the adherents of all faiths.
UN Chief Fears Israel-Hizballah War in Near Future
July 5….(Israel Today) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday warned that Israel and the Lebanese terrorist militia Hizballah may go to war again in the very near future. In a review of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Ban highlighted recent accusations that Hizballah has acquired a large supply of new missiles that are now aimed at Israel. "Amidst allegations of continued arms transfers to Hezbollah, a perceptible increase in tension between the parties was recorded," wrote Ban. "This raised the specter of a miscalculation by either party leading to a resumption of hostilities, with potentially devastating consequences for Lebanon and the region." Resolution 1701 called for the disarming of Hizballah, which Lebanon has refused to do, and increased the number of UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon to 13,000 with the expressed intent of halting arms shipments to the terror group. Israeli officials have been saying for years that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is simply not doing its job, either out of fear or indifference, and that Hizballah today is militarily stronger than it was before the 2006 war. Just last month, UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas told The Jerusalem Post that his force had found no evidence of Hizballah military activity or arms smuggling in southern Lebanon. But a series of attacks on UNIFIL patrols at the weekend may point to Cuevas being influenced by fear of retaliatory action by Hizballah. On Saturday, a UNIFIL patrol that tried to enter a Hizballah-aligned village in southern Lebanon was surrounded and attacked by locals. Two vehicles were badly damaged, and the patrol's commander had his weapon snatched. A contingent of Lebanese soldiers later arrived and retrieved the weapon, but the UNIFIL force was not allowed to enter and inspect the village. A similar attack took place in another village at around the same time, also denying UNIFIL troops the ability to inspect the community for Hizballah activity.
'Saudi King Says Israel, Iran Don't Deserve to Exist'
July 5….(YNET) Saudi Arabia on Friday denied a report in French daily Le Figaro, according to which Kind Abdullah told the French Defense minister that "two states in the region do not deserve to exist: Israel and Iran". A Saudi official told the government-controlled Saudi Press, "This is untrue altogether", and expressed bewilderment at the French paper's willingness to make such charges without verifying the details. The official added that Saudi Arabia's position was "clear". According to the Le Figaro report, King Abdullah made the comment during a June 5 meeting with French Defense Minister Herve Morin, just days after Israel's deadly takeover of a Gaza-bound flotilla. The report emphasized that "military and diplomatic elements" confirmed that king did in fact make the comment. Last month Saudi Arabia denied a report in the London Times that Riyadh was planning to allow Israel to use its airspace in order to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. King Abdullah met this week with US President Obama in an attempt to present a united front on Iran's nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. At the end of their meeting, the two declared the "importance of moving forward in a swift and bold way in securing a Palestinian homeland." However, after the meeting, Lebanese paper An-Nahar reported that despite the warm statements made by Obama and King Abdullah in the White House, a difference of opinion between the two emerged on a number of different issues, including the sanctions against Iran's nuclear program, the situation in Iraq, and the peace process. American sources told the newspaper that Saudi Arabia "is not convinced that economic sanctions on Iran will succeed and is interested in knowing what alternatives the president's administration has."
'Israel Trying to Block US-Saudi Arabia Defense Contract'
(Defense source says deal includes purchase of scores of new F-15 fighter jets and the upgrading of the 150 F-15s already in the Saudi air force)
July 5….(Ha Aretz) Israel is trying to prevent a big defense contract between the United States and Saudi Arabia from going through, a senior defense source told Haaretz. The deal includes the purchase of scores of new F-15 fighter jets and the upgrading of the 150 F-15s already in the Saudi air force. The source said Israel expressed a number of reservations to the Americans over the past month, and the issue is expected to come up in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meetings in Washington on Tuesday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak raised the deal in meetings with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor General Jim Jones two weeks ago in Washington. Israel also made its reservations clear at a meeting in Tel Aviv between top Israeli defense officials and a delegation led by US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. The aircraft deal was also raised in talks between Saudi King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama last week. The defense source told Haaretz the Americans are interested in building up the Saudi air force vis-a-vis Iran, which would help deter the Islamic Republic. Israel, however, hopes that if the deal goes forward, Saudi Arabia will receive fewer advanced versions of the F-15 than those possessed by Israel, which seeks to maintain its air force's superiority. "Today these planes are against Iran, tomorrow they might turn against us," the source said. Israel and the United States held a number of meetings over the past 18 months on Israel's superiority. The two sides agreed that neither would surprise the other by agreeing a military deal with a third party. A senior source in the US administration told Haaretz the United States has promised Israel it would have priority access to any new weapons system and, in some cases, exclusive rights to buy new weapons systems, as opposed to Arab states. "The administration is conducting open and completely transparent talks with Israel on the matter, and we are updating Israel on any planned deal to hear its reservations," the official said. "We believe that there are many cases in which the Iranian threat commits us to strengthen the ability of states in the region to defend themselves."