WEEK OF FEBRUARY 26 THROUGH MARCH 4
Jordan's King Abdullah Israel Must Choose 'Fortress' or Peace
March 3….(YNET) Jordan's King Abdullah II said Friday that Israel must choose between the mentality of "Israel the fortress" or "living in peace and security with its neighbors." Interviewed on state television before his departure for the United States, the king said the United States was the country most capable of influencing Israel. "It is time that the US employ this influence to prove its transparency to the people of the region, and that it is not biased," Abdullah said. The king, who has long urged America to make a greater effort on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, is likely to make the same point when he addresses the US Congress on Wednesday. The Middle East faces two choices, "Either the choice of peace or the choice of chaos, violence and destruction," the king told Jordanian television, to which he rarely gives interviews. He said that a solution to the Palestinian problem would spare the region disaster and chaos. Referring to the United States, he said: "It is our duty to push this great state, and others, to take balanced positions and support the peace process." Abdullah said that he realized that Washington was preoccupied with Iraq, and said Jordan too wanted to see reconciliation and stability in Iraq. But, the king added, "The principle problem in the region is the Palestinian issue and, if it is not solved, it will be impossible to solve the other problems."
'Renew Animal Sacrifices on Temple Mount'
March 3….(YNET) Animal sacrifices should be renewed on the Temple Mount, a member of the radical Sanhedrin organization told Ynetnews. In ancient Israel and Judea, the Sanhedrin served as the highest court in the land, and was made up of 71 top judges. Now, a group of fringe rabbis say they have reformed the group, although the organization has received no recognition from Israel’s official religious authorities. "In the Torah there are around 200 commandments dealing with animal sacrifices," said Rabbi Dov Stein, of the Sanhedrin organization. "The Torah of Israel demands animal sacrifices. When the people of Israel were in the Diaspora, it couldn’t be done. But now, there is the supreme institution, the Sanhedrin, made up of experts, and it can be done. The new Sanhedrin, like the old, will educate the people of Israel on how to keep and safeguard the Torah." Stein vowed that "we will try to carry out animal sacrifices on the Temple Mount this Passover, as commanded by the Torah." Asked if his organization sought to rebuild the third Temple, Stein's answer was unequivocal. "We want to establish the Temple again. Unfortunately, standing in our way is a hostile regime, the Israeli government, and rabbis who for political interest don't want this to happen." Stein even suggested that Muslims would agree to the project, saying: "The Omar Mosque (the Dome of the Rock), built by Khalif Omar, was actually intended to safeguard the site for the Jews. Islam hasn't always been so hostile. Despite its hatred and massacres against us, Islam sees in Judaism a source and a guide. I think the moment will come that Muslims understand the need to build the Temple and go along with us." Stein outlined his plan for Israel, calling for a King to be appointed democratically. "Democracy was not invented today, the king is elected from a list of candidates. A senior judge, as was done during the days of the judges, can also be appointed," he added. However, such practices ended 2000 years ago, Rabbi Doniel Hartman was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "Around that time, animal sacrifice, as a mode of religious worship, stopped for Jews, Christians and Muslims," said the rabbi from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, according to AP. "Moving back in that direction is not progress," he added. According to mainstream Jewish thought, animal sacrifices must not be carried out outside of Temple, which itself cannot be rebuilt by human endeavor, but will be rebuilt upon the arrival of the messiah.
It’s a Security Wall, Not An Apartheid Wall
March 2….(FOJ) By entitling his new book on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” former US President Jimmy Carter has endorsed the world’s agenda to demonize Israel and accuse it of being an oppressor nation that is illegally occupying someone else’s land.
Jimmy Carter is in essence parroting his fellow Globalist Governance ideologues by blaming Israel for all the world’s problems, just as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did this week in Sudan. Hopefully I need not point out the fact that Mr. Carter enabled the Iranian Shiite terrorist state to emerge as a threat to world peace, and now to be in a position to threaten to “wipe Israel off the map.” Singling out Jewish nationalism, or Zionism, as being racist is so ridiculous (and Anti-Christian) that even the United Nations in 1991 was compelled to rescind its 1974 resolution branding Zionism as racism. Applying the Apartheid label is a devious scheme to ostracize Israel because Israel has felt forced to build a security barrier to keep out all those suicide bombers the Palestinian peace partners keep sending into Israel, and it is blatant hypocrisy carried to the extreme. The haters of Israel are simply trying to transfer onto Israel the civilized world’s justifiable contempt for South African oppression by making it seem like Israel is guilty of apartheid by building the fence. Albeit, the PA was supposed to do the work that the security fence is now doing. This charge is particularly ironic coming from so many Arab/Muslim states, which perpetuate hatred and intolerance against Christians, women, and Jews. This unconscionable, inaccurate label insults anyone who supports the modern Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist. And for the world, that is precisely the problem—Israel exists! And the whole idea of Israel keeping out all those terrorists is offensive to the world, and it frustrates the Devils plan to destroy Israel. But alas, someday soon, the world will convince Israel to take down the wall and accept an enticing land-for-peace solution. Soon some crafty diplomatic genius will formulate a plan that stipulates that the land should be divided between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. (2 state solution) (Daniel 11:39-40 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.) The wall will then come down, and the world will throw a bigger party than it did when the Iron Curtain came down. Peace, peace-at-last will be hailed around the world. But as Paul stated in I Thessalonians 5:2-3, when the Ten Globalist Kings think they have accomplished World Peace, and seemingly resolved the burdensome dilemma of Jerusalem, the Kings of the earth will be seduced (Rev. 16:13-14) into making their calculated strategic moves against the land of Israel. Russia will be one of the nations that will observe the “unwalled land,” and interpret it as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to assault Israel. (Ezekiel 38:10-11 Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought: And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates) The wall that Israel now looks to for security will be replaced by a peace/regional-security alliance pact between Israel and the Arab world, and will be guaranteed and enforced by the Western Antichrist. This detail relative to the new Global balance of power during the Tribulation era will compel Russia and the Kings of the East to act against the Anti-Christ, and with great consternation for the King of the South. (Saudi Arabia)
Roadmap Final Status Peace Process Enters A New Era
FOJ Note: The new Roadmap negotiations have entered a serious new era, as the discussions now would reverse the phasing for the establishment of a Palestinian State from the peace deal that was presented to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in 2000 under President Clinton. The former Oslo process delayed negotiations over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to the final status phase, whereas the present approach starts with the Temple Mount itself, which of course has always been the explosive issue. This matter is Very Important as it pertains to Bible prophecy, as the Bible indicates in II Thessalonians 2:4 that the eventual Antichrist will present himself as the Sovereign Lord over the Temple. This news item shows just how clearly the strategic trends in the world are indeed leading to the coming our Lord Jesus Christ!
March 2….(Ha Aretz) Israel's inability to deal with either Hezbollah's missiles or those from Gaza, makes it likely that some sort of provisionality, perhaps as envisioned in the optional Phase 2 of the road map plan, will be part of any Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The real choice facing Israeli policymakers today is whether to limit negotiations to Phase 2 of the road map. This would mean postponing discussion of Jerusalem and of the refugees, and testing the Palestinians with a state with provisional boundaries. The alternative is to negotiate a comprehensive end-of-conflict agreement with Mahmoud Abbas, but subject it to performance-based implementation, moving gradually toward full sovereignty and final borders. This latter approach does not drop any of the phases of the road map, but reorders them, starting with Phase 3 negotiations and then making Phase 2 and Phase 1 part of the implementation process. Reaching a comprehensive final status agreement at the outset offers new opportunities for building peace:
*Starting with the Temple Mount: While genuine borders might come late in the implementation process, with a full deal in place, it will be possible to immediately begin implementation of the final status provisions for the Temple Mount. Ideally, the treaty would affirm that "sovereignty over the Temple Mount belongs to God," vest operational control with the Palestinians, and establish an international mechanism to adjudicate disputes. Success here would change the tenor of the conflict and have far-reaching implications for the relations between Islam and the West. Israeli recognition of Palestinian sovereignty will gradually expand toward the final borders, but only when (1) the Palestinian state actually exercises a monopoly over Palestinian armed forces, and (2) the state is adequately implementing the end-of-conflict agreement. In effect this approach reverses the road map, moving from comprehensive negotiations, to a State with interim boundaries, and only then, as part of its successful assertion of sovereignty, to the Phase One requirement of dismantling terrorist infrastructure. The key obstacle to initiating negotiations immediately is the problem of a "two-headed government" on the Palestinian side. Some have maintained that there is no point in negotiating until either Fatah defeats Hamas and exercises control over all of the territory, or alternatively, until Hamas (or the new unity government) accepts the three principles of the Quartet (recognition of Israel, nonviolence and acceptance of previously negotiated agreements). The Quartet views Abu Mazen as the best interlocutor that Israel will ever have. His historic mission is the one that Arafat did not seize: namely to close the final status deal and end the conflict with Israel.
Israel Slams Russia and Putin For Arming Syria
March 2….(Jerusalem Post) Jerusalem aimed harsh criticism at Russia today for its decision to supply Syria with advanced missiles, including anti-aircraft missiles and new anti-tank missiles that can penetrate Western-made tanks. Senior Israeli officials expressed concerns that the arms would be transferred to Hizbullah, warning that missiles that were supplied to Syria in the past got into the hands of the group and were used against IDF tanks during the summer's war in Lebanon. Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that the supply of arms Russia is sending to Syria "encouraged Damascus to turn to war."
"Syria is moving between peace overtures and its temptations to go to war to which arms supply is an incentive," added Peres. The vice premier went on to say that the UN had admitted that the weapons flow from Syria to Hizbullah was continuing, adding that Israel needed to exert pressure on Moscow to stop supplying Damascus with arms. MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "seemingly decided to restore Russia's Soviet-Empire status," adding that the Russian president was "playing with fire."
Russia Warns US Against Striking Iran
March 1….(World Watch/Guardian) Russia's foreign minister today vociferously warned Washington not to use force against Iran and criticized what he described as the United States' unilateral approach to other global crises in an interview published Wednesday. Russia is worried about Vice President Dick Cheney's recent comment that “all options are on the table'' to stop Tehran from becoming a nuclear power, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. “We are concerned about the possibility of a military scenario,'' Lavrov was quoted as saying, in the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta. “We are observing a US military buildup in the Persian Gulf. Such a buildup of forces always threatens to trigger a military conflict, even by accident. Iran has ignored a UN deadline to halt the enrichment of uranium, which the US says is part of a secret effort to build nuclear weapons. Enriched to a low level, uranium is used to produce nuclear fuel but highly enriched uranium can be used in an atomic bomb. Russia has repeatedly spoken out against the use of military force against Iran, and has warned that harsh punishment would be counterproductive. In December, Russia supported a UN Security Council resolution that imposed limited sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt enrichment, but only after the council dropped an initial proposal to impose curbs on a nuclear power plant Russia is building in Iran. Echoing recent comments made by President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov also assailed Washington for what he called a unilateralist approach to global issues. “When they offer us a unilateral strategy and urge us to express solidarity in combating one or another evil, that's not the behavior of a partner,'' he was quoted as saying. Lavrov added that Putin's harsh criticism of US policy earlier this month voiced an opinion many other nations shared, but were afraid to express publicly. Putin told a security conference in Munich Feb. 10 that the United States “has overstepped its national borders in every way'' and accused it of triggering a global arms race. Lavrov praised Putin's blunt talk: “Someone had to say it, to show the need for candid talk about how to deal with global affairs.'' Russia can speak independently, he said, because of its resurgence following the troubled years after the 1991 Soviet collapse. “There are those who cannot say 'no' to the United States,'' he said. In a bid to increase its role in Middle East peace efforts, Russia this week hosted Khaled Mashaal, leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas. Lavrov said Tuesday the Hamas chief pledged to end missile attacks and violence against Israel, although Mashaal reaffirmed his group's refusal to recognize Israel.
Ahmadinejad To Make Rare Visit to Saudi Arabia
March 1….(AP) Just a mere 2 weeks after Mecca brokered a deal between Palestinian terrorist factions that lead its government, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will make his first official trip to Saudi Arabia, a major US regional ally, on Saturday amid a growing international standoff over Tehran's nuclear program. "President Ahmadinejad will travel to Saudi Arabia on Saturday," said an Iranian official, who asked not to be named. He said Ahmadinejad would leave the kingdom on Sunday after talks covering regional affairs, but gave no further details. The United States and its regional allies including Israel and Saudi Arabia suspect that Iran's nuclear energy program is trying to develop weapons, an accusation Tehran denies. US-allied Arab governments are also concerned that Shi'ite Muslim Iran is gaining influence in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq, where Sunni bastion Saudi Arabia blames Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias for sectarian killings. Saudi and Iranian officials have met several times to mediate between Lebanese opposition forces led by Hezbollah, a Shi'ite group backed by Iran and Syria, and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's US and Saudi-backed government. But their talks, as well as Saudi contacts with Washington and Paris and Iranian talks with its closest regional ally Syria, appear to have made little headway A Lebanese political source in Beirut said Iran wanted to break the ice between Saudis and Syrians, a key element in defusing Lebanon's crisis, before an Arab League summit set to take place in Saudi Arabia at the end of March. Saudi commentators, noting Syrian officials have not visited Saudi Arabia in months, say Riyadh might want a thaw in its relations with Damascus to pry Syria away from Iran. The Hezbollah-led opposition demands veto power in the Lebanese government and early parliamentary elections. Siniora has refused. Lebanon's government has no Shi'ite representatives after all Shi'ite ministers quit last November. The crisis in Lebanon and Sunni-Shi'ite fighting in Iraq has led to fears of growing sectarian divides across the region. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria have all accepted Iraq's invitation to attend a regional conference in March on ways of easing tensions in Iraq. Riyadh has led a diplomatic drive to try to limit Iranian influence in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. The effort has been led by veteran diplomat Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who Western diplomats in Riyadh say is very close to the US administration but sometimes an independent operator who does not necessarily represent the king's thinking. Iraqi analyst Mustafa Alani, who recently visited Riyadh and met Saudi officials, said Tehran was aware of this and felt it had to woo Saudi leaders, starting with King Abdullah himself. Ahmadinejad has been to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage before, but this will be his first official visit. "The Iranian leadership think they are going to face a major crisis sooner or later with their nuclear program and the United States trying to push them out of Iraq, so basically they want to neutralize Gulf opposition at the least," Alani said. "The visit is an Iranian initiative. It wasn't an invitation. The problem is Ahmedinejad himself. He is not trusted by the Saudi leadership," he said. "The Iranians tried to show the Saudis goodwill in Lebanon and that they are open to diplomatic bargaining. They reduced the tension markedly in Lebanon."
Ahmadinejad: Israel, US Behind Every War Everywhere
March 1….(JNEWSWIRE) ) Iranian demagogue Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday stated that Israel and the US are somehow behind every single armed conflict happening everywhere in the world. Speaking to government officials and intellectuals (Ed. note - How smart can they be if they are buying this stuff?) during a visit to Khartoum, the Associated Press quoted Ahmadinejad as saying: "There is no place in the world that suffers from divisions and war unless America's or the Zionists' fingerprints are seen there." Of course, he failed to explain how Israel or the US had any part in starting the various wars in sub-Saharan Africa, insurgencies in Algeria and Somalia, rebellions in the Caucasus, or the wars that have ripped apart the Balkans. Ironically, nearly all of those conflicts were started by Muslims.
Ahmadinejad Blames US and Israel For World’s Problems
March 1….(Jerusalem Post) Iran's president blamed the United States and Israel for the world's problems Thursday in a lecture to Sudanese officials during his visit to Sudan. President Ahmadinejad's comments came as Iran and Sudan face mounting international criticism, Iran over its nuclear activities and Sudan over the conflict in Darfur. In his lecture titled "Iran and the world," Ahmadinejad reiterated arguments that he has made repeatedly throughout the standoff with the United States and its Western allies over Iran's nuclear activities. He urged Muslims to rally behind Iran and accused detractors of Iran's nuclear program of trying to prevent a developing country from making scientific advances.
"There is no place in the world that suffers from divisions and wars unless America or the Zionists' fingerprints are seen there," Ahmadinejad told his audience in Farsi translated into Arabic. "Our strength and the cornerstone of the victory is in our (Muslims') unity, and we have to pay attention to the devils who want to cause divisions among us," the Iranian president said. "They want to keep science in their hands only, they don't want the rest of the world to progress," he said referring Iran's nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad arrived in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, Wednesday in a show of solidarity with Sudan. (a nation that is guilty of genocide) Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared support for Iran's nuclear ambitions while the Ahmadinejad said Iran viewed Sudan's progress as important as its own. Sudanese state SUNA news agency said the visit would promote "cooperation in defense relations, the exchange of expertise and scientific and technological capabilities."
Russia is Just Waiting for the US to Tire Out in Iraq
March 1….(FOJ) In terms of its position in the Middle East, Washington has something to worry about. It has a powerful competitor rising in this region, namely Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is racing to embrace everyone the US is in defense against in the war-on-terror. In early February, Putin met with Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran's former foreign minister who is now supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei's adviser. According to reports from Iran, Velayati received Russian assurances that no debilitating international sanctions would be imposed on Tehran. Mostly, however, they talked about the future of Iraq. Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Khaled Meshal and promised him that Moscow would do everything in its power to grant the Palestinian unity government international recognition. Two weeks earlier, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas received similar treatment. Russia nurtures a special relationship with Damascus that has enabled it to influence Bashar Assad's decision-making process for years. But not only America's antagonists and rivals are being adopted by Russia. In Saudi Arabia, Putin enjoyed a warm welcome from King Abdullah and came away with a few petroleum drilling rights. Russia is positioning itself in the Middle East in anticipation of the moment the United States begins its Iraq pullout. At the Munich Conference on Security Policy in February, Putin accused the US of aspiring to dominate the world. Meanwhile, Putin has no intention to stay in his corner. It therefore appears that the American willingness to participate in a conference with Syria and Iran is related to the Russian regional involvement and the threat to America's standing. Russia is clearly manipulating events attached to the Iraq war and the Iranian nuclear standoff to wear down the US resolve in the Middle East. Russia is hoping that America will soon grow weary of the whole mess and leave Iraq, and in the vacuum, Russia feels that it can become the major powerbroker in the region.
FOJ Note: The “drying up of the Euphrates” (Iraq) may have more to do with geo-political and the Middle East regional balance of power than it does to water. FOJ has long maintained that the verse in Revelation 16:12 has nothing to do with a drought or the damning of that great river. This scripture more likely has to do with the “withering away” of forces in the region that can inhibit the demonic forces that will entice the Kings of the East to cross the region so that it can join an assault against Israel.
Israel Security Official: Iran Plans To Nuke Europe, US
March 1….(excerpt from RNN) An Israel security official told the Israel News Agency that the recent launch of a missile from Iran into space illustrated a direct threat to both Europe's and US national security. On February 25, Iran launched a missile reaching space. Iran’s Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Iran was planning to build a satellite and a launcher. "Iran has no plans to land a man on the moon," Col. Adam, an Israeli security source told the INA. "The same technology is used to build intercontinental ballistic missiles. This Iran space launch is not a threat to Israel. The Iranians need not reach a space orbit to attack Israel, but such a high orbit would be needed to deliver a nuclear payload, or an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) attack into Europe or the US." Iran launched its first satellite, Sina-1, into orbit from a Russian rocket in 2005 and has said it planned to modify its Shahab-3 missile, which Iran says has a range of about 2,000 km (1,250 miles), to launch satellites. Western governments are not prepared for Iran to have a nuclear delivery system up and running. We have Iran, a nation openly declaring that it intends to "wipe Israel off the map" while it is also planting bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. One should understand the Iranian Shiite fundamental mentality. These people are not simply threatening the "infidels" of the west; they are promising to attack as soon as they have both the delivery and nuclear weapons capability. Iran which denies that a European Holocaust ever took place, is now planning to create a second Holocaust in Europe and in the US," said the Israel MFA source. On last week's launch of a sub-orbital missile by Iran, it should be noted that "Having orbital satellite launch capability, Iran would have access to deliver payloads to anyplace on earth, as was first powerfully demonstrated 50 years ago by the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957.
Israel Set to Celebrate Purim
Feb. 28….(David Dolan) One thing seems beyond question: 2007 is destined to be another unsettled year for the violence-plagued Middle East. But despite it all, the God of Israel still reigns over the troubled affairs of men, and His plans and purposes will stand in the end. Indeed, some rabbis note that a full lunar eclipse will take place hours after the Purim holiday begins on the evening of March 3, reaching its climax in the Middle East just after midnight. The eclipse is especially unique in that scientists say it will be at least partially visible from every continent on earth. It is also occurring on the very day that marks Israel’s deliverance from ancient Persia’s nefarious plans to wipe out all of the Jews living in Queen Esther’s day. With modern Persian leaders issuing the exact same vows today, (wipe Israel off the map) some rabbis see the celestial event as a divine sign that the God of Israel intends once again to eclipse the contemporary annihilation plot emanating from Iran. If so, King David’s modern kin can repeat his ancient words of praise, uttered in the midst of turmoil: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me. You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.” (Psalm 138:7).
US, Iran, Syria to Join Conference on Iraq
Feb. 28….(MENL) In a potential policy shift, the United States said Tuesday it would join a conference with Iraq's neighbors which could see senior US officials hold direct talks with foes Iran and Syria. President George W. Bush's administration previously had rebuffed calls from Congress, regional allies and the independent Iraq Study Group last year for a regional forum and discussions with its two arch foes on stabilizing chaotic Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the landmark conference, expected in early April, will follow lower-level talks with regional powers plus the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in Baghdad in March. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack insisted there had been no change in US policy towards Iran, but repeatedly refused to rule out direct talks with the Iranians on the sidelines of the regional talks. Iraqi officials said the first gathering, in March, would focus on ending sectarian violence and foreign support for rival militia and insurgents. It will involve ambassadors and other envoys from Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey as well as Egypt, Bahrain, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference plus the five UN Security Council powers, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. "This initial meeting will be followed, perhaps as early as the first half of April, by a ministerial level meeting with the same invitees, plus the G8," Sec. Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Group of Eight also includes Japan, Canada, Germany and Italy. "I would note that the Iraqi government has invited Syria and Iran to attend both of these regional meetings," she said. "We hope these governments seize this opportunity to improve their relations with Iraq, and to work for peace and stability in the region," she said. Analysts said that the tone and strategy of the Bush administration's regional diplomacy appeared to be shifting. "We have not been meeting with the Iranians to discuss regional issues," said Jon Alterman, a Middle East expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "This is very clearly an effort to bring the Iranians and the Syrians into a regional security discussion." Justin Logan, of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said the regional conference proposal was a clear parallel to the Iraq Study Group recommendation. "It sounds like a lot like the ISG proposal, the sort of regional conference they suggested. Bush in the past has spelled out a tough line on the idea of even group talks with regional powers on Iraq including Iran and Syria. "They need to come understanding their responsibilities to not fund terrorists, to help this young democracy survive, to help with the economics of the country," he said in December. "If Syria and Iran are not committed to that concept, then they shouldn't bother to show up."
Present-Day Sanhedrin Court Seeks to Revive Ancient Temple Rituals
Feb. 28….(Ha Aretz) The present-day Sanhedrin Court decided Tuesday to purchase a herd of sheep for ritual sacrifice at the site of the Temple on the eve of Passover, conditions on the Temple Mount permitting. The modern Sanhedrin was established several years ago and is headed by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. It claims to be renewing the ancient Jewish high court, which existed until roughly 1600 years ago, and meets once a week. Professor Hillel Weiss, a member of the Sanhedrin, told Haaretz on Tuesday that the action, even if merely symbolic, is designed to demonstrate in a way that is obvious to all that the expectation of Temple rituals will resume is real, and not just talk. Several years ago, a number of members of the various Temple movements performed a symbolic sacrifice on Givat Hananya, which overlooks the Temple Mount from Jerusalem's Abu Tur neighborhood. During the ceremony, participants sacrificed a young goat that was donated by a resident of Tekoa. The participants also built a special two-meter tall oven, in accordance with halakha (Jewish law). The Passover sacrifice is considered a simple ceremony, relative to other works performed in the Temple.
FOJ Note: The Antichrist will manipulate the “covenant with many” to allow Israel to reinstitute a presence on the Temple Mount, and permit them to begin sacrifices and traditional rituals. (Daniel 9:27 And he (Antichrist) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.) However, in the middle of the Tribulation era, he will utilize the Temple Mount compound to present himself before the world as God. (II Thessalonians 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.)
Putin Moves To Encircle and Support Anti-Israel Forces
Feb. 27….(FOJ) Vladimir Putin, Moscow's current czar, has Russia again behaving like an aggressive angry bear awakened from hibernation, hungry and seeking to expand his territoriality. Putin’s remarks last week condemning US foreign policy are mirrored by actions, both overt and covert, and are directly aimed at undermining US national security, and US geo-political superiority in the Middle East. Whether it was by design or not, America’s traditional support for Israel served to help make America the benefactor of Middle East power-broking. Last week Mr. Putin told European leaders gathered in Munich "that the United States has overstepped its national borders in every way." He further charged that US foreign policy and support for Israel is forcing Arab nations to “acquire weapons of mass destruction." It is with this mindset that Mr. Putin is acting to arm so many anti-Israel nations in the Middle East. Putin has defended Moscow's sale of $700 million worth of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft batteries to Iran. And in an effort to sound less like a roaring bear and more like a power-hungry liberal Democrat running for the US presidency, he declared that “wars and regional conflicts, have only grown in intensity and number" and charged America with taking "unilateral and illegitimate actions" (unsanctioned by the UN) in Iraq and elsewhere that have caused all the problems in the Middle East today." Russia continues to utilize its UN and Roadmap Quartet membership status to veto any resolution tightening sanctions on Tehran, and it does so because it is intent on using the Damascus-Teheran-Gaza Axis to drive the United States out of the Middle East. Thus, the main reason for Mr. Putin’s excursion down to the Arabian Peninsula last week to shore up support among America’s flailing allies, who remain convinced that the whole problem rests with Israel. Russia's announcement today that it would work to promote international support for the Hamas-terrorist-led Palestinian Authority, its intention to supply missiles to Syria and its opposition to sanctions against Iran present a worrying trend for Israel, and for the US. The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority is not the only entity hostile to Israel behind which Russia has been throwing its support. According to information received by Israel, Russia is set to conclude a deal, worth several hundred million dollars, to transfer thousands of advanced anti-tank missiles to Syria. Such missiles were used by Hizbullah during Israel's war in Lebanon this past summer and caused a large proportion of Israeli troop casualties during the 34 days of military confrontation. Russian nuclear fuel deliveries to Iran's Bushehr plant are set to begin in March 2007. Syria's ally, Iran, is also a beneficiary of Russian support. The ongoing assistance Russia provides for construction and operation of the Bushehr nuclear plant in southern Iran is soon to take a dangerous turn, with the start of nuclear fuel deliveries in March 2007. Russia, along with the Kings of the East continue to oppose increasing UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, and yet they are very quick to aid and abet every potential anti-American dictator or rogue terrorist entity in the Middle East. There is a lot of rumor about the prospect of an American attack on Iran sometime this year to preempt the ominous threat of an Iranian-Shiite nuclear bomb. If American forces step back from Iraq before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government implodes, which by the way seems to be over-run by elements from Iran anyway, American power in the Middle East may find itself drying up like the Euphrates in Bible prophecy. (In fact the two may be related) We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists backed by Al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill across the country, and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For Russia and Iran, this is likely the objective, especially with the United States pushed out of the way, as they obviously will drive the conflict all the way to Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 38:7-8 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.)
Israel to Hold Nationwide Nuclear Attack Drill
Feb. 27….(Breitbart) Israel will next month stage its first-ever nationwide drill simulating a nuclear and chemical missile attack on its cities, rescue services said Monday. The exercise was initiated by the army's homefront corps in the wake of last summer's war in Lebanon and Iran's calls for the destruction of the Jewish State and its controversial nuclear program. Israel suspects is Iran is aiming to develop an atomic bomb, but insists its program is for civilian energy purposes. The main scenarios which will be simulated are a massive rocket attack on cities as well as a "conventional and non-conventional missile attack," Magen David Adom rescue services spokesman Yerucham Mandola told AFP. During the drill, which will include army rescue forces, police, medical and firefighting services, air-raid sirens may be sounded across the entire country. The Hezbollah militia fired over 4,000 rockets against northern Israel during the war last summer, killing more than 40 civilians and paralyzing the region's industry and economy. During the 1991 Gulf War, Israeli citizens were equipped with gas masks out of fear of a chemical attack. None of the missiles fired from Iraq against Israel were equipped with chemical warheads.
Russia Rides in to Help End Sanctions on (Terrorist ) PA Unity
(Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says at start of talks with Hamas leader Mashaal, ‘We are striving to have the international community support the peace process and make it irrevocable, including helping end the blockade against the Palestinian unity government)
Feb. 27….(YNET) Russia pledged Tuesday to help lift an economic embargo against the Palestinian government as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with Hamas political director Khaled Mashaal, upping the stakes in Moscow's bid to build influence in the Middle East. "We are striving to have the international community support the peace process and make it irrevocable, including helping end the blockade against the Palestinian government,” Lavrov said at the start of talks with Mashaal. Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is also visiting Moscow, met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and asked that he urge Hamas to speed up the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The Israel Our Home chairman also asked his host to work toward intensifying the economic siege imposed on the Palestinian government and contribute to the international pressure exerted on Iran over its defiant nuclear program. The so-called Middle East diplomatic Quartet, Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, imposed the sanctions after Hamas took control of the Palestinian government in elections last January and refused to recognize Israel or renounce violence. Alone among the Quartet's members, Russia has criticized the sanctions and maintained diplomatic contacts with Hamas, hosting a pair of official visits since the January election that Mashaal called "bold steps." "From the very beginning we wanted to make Moscow the first place we visited after the talks in Mecca in order to consult with you," Mashaal said, referring to a power-sharing deal struck this month between Hamas and the rival Fatah party in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Quartet's members have been split on how to respond to the agreement, in which Hamas and the more moderate Fatah pledged to form a unity government but fell short of the Quartet's conditions for lifting the economic blockade. Russia's Western partners condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization, and the group itself has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli targets. In their power-sharing agreement, Hamas and Fatah agreed to "respect" previous Palestinian-Israeli accords, a rhetorical step short of agreeing to implement them. Lavrov called the Mecca agreement a "positive step," saying: "The Russian leadership from the very beginning supported the idea of forming this kind of government." Israel and the United States oppose lifting the embargo unless the new government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and agrees to stick by past peace agreements. Mashaal also thanked President Vladimir Putin for a recent speech seen as part of a bid to raise Russia's influence in the Middle East in which the Russian leader slammed Washington for unilateral foreign policy moves. "We highly value the support of the Russian Federation and the recent statement by President Putin in Munich," he said, referring to the controversial February 10 speech. Putin's speech was followed by a three-day charm offensive to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, traditionally close allies of the United States.
Mashaal in Russia: Hamas Will Not Recognize Israel
Feb. 27….(Jerusalem Post) Hamas's political leader said Tuesday that the militant group will not recognize Israel, which has been a key demand of international peace negotiators. "First of all, Israel has to end its occupation of Palestinian territory and put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people," Khaled Mashaal said when asked about recognition of Israel during a news conference at the close of a trip to Russia. "When Israel does that, the Palestinian people will make their position clear," Mashaal said. Russia, the most pro-Hamas member of the so-called Quartet of Mideast peace brokers, which includes Russia, the EU, the United Nations and the United States, will work for international support of the Palestinian Authority power-sharing arrangement and for the lifting of the crippling international aid blockade, the Russian foreign minister said earlier Tuesday. Russia favors the agreement between Hamas and the Fatah group to share power because it shows "wisdom, reason and responsibility before the Palestinian people," Sergey Lavrov said before a meeting with Hamas's political leader Khaled Mashaal. "We are pushing for all members of the international community to support this process and make it irreversible, including efforts to lift the blockade," Lavrov added. Millions of dollars in crucial foreign aid were cut off after Hamas, which the European Union, United States and others consider a terrorist group, gained control of the Cabinet and the legislature in January 2006 elections. The Quartet has demanded that any new Palestinian government recognize Israel's right to exist, which Hamas has failed to do. However, since the power-sharing deal worked out this month, there has appeared to be a softening in the stance of some EU countries toward Hamas. Today, France announced that it would support the new Palestinian Unity government and vote to lift the sanctions.
Russia Steps Up to Bat for Unrepentant Hamas Gov't
Feb. 27….(JNEWSWIRE) Russia announced on Tuesday that it would work to bring an end to international economic sanctions against the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority for its refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his government is pleased with the new power-sharing agreement between Hamas and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah, even if the new unity government fails to oppose the murder of Jews or destruction of Israel. The US and much of Europe remain firm in their position that Hamas must "moderate" its views on Israel if it wants their money, but with Russia and France already jumping ship, that resolve is expected to crumble shortly.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials noted the hypocrisy of world leaders insisting that the "Palestinians" comply with their conditions for peace, and then affording legitimacy to Hamas while it is still refusing to do so.
Plowshares Beaten into Swords in Gaza
Palestinians: 'Looting and burning' of Jewish holy sites 'was a great joy'
Feb. 27….(WND) The ruins of two large synagogues in Gush Katif, the evacuated Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip, have been transformed into a military base used by Palestinian groups to fire rockets at Israeli cities and train for attacks against the Jewish state, according to a senior terror leader in Gaza. When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, it left in tact 20 synagogues of the Gush Katif Jewish communities following an Israeli Cabinet decision against demolishing the structures. Immediately after the Israeli evacuation was completed, Palestinians mobs destroyed most of the Gaza synagogues, including two major synagogues in Neve Dekalim, the largest Gush Katif community. In front of international camera crews, the Palestinians ripped off aluminum window frames and metal ceiling fixtures from the Neve Dekalim synagogues, which were situated close to each other in the center of town. Militants flew the Palestinian and Hamas flags from the structures before mobs burned down the synagogues. Speaking to WND from Gaza, Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization, said the area where the synagogues once stood now is used to fire rockets at Israel. "We are proud to turn these lands, especially these parts that were for long time the symbol of occupation and injustice, like the synagogue, into a military base and source of fire against the Zionists and the Zionist entity," Abu Abir said. "The liberated lands of the destroyed ugly and Nazi settlements [Gush Katif] is our property, and we have the right to do whatever we feel is suitable for the struggle against the occupation and for the general interest of the Palestinian people," the Committees leader said. The Committees is a coalition of terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank responsible for launching hundreds of rockets from Gaza aimed at nearby Jewish towns. The group is accused of bombing a US convoy in Gaza in 2003 in which three American government contractors were killed. Abu Abir blamed the Palestinian desecration of the Gaza synagogues on the Jewish state, claiming the decision to leave the structures in tact was part of an Israeli conspiracy. The terrorist leader claimed the mob destruction of the synagogues was not planned but was a spontaneous outburst of "happiness." "The looting and burning of the synagogues was a great joy. There was no intention to desecrate them but this was part of the great joy the young men had when they destroyed everything that could remind us of the occupation. It was in an unplanned expression of happiness that these synagogues were destroyed." Prior to the Gaza withdrawal, Israel's Supreme Court ruled the Gaza synagogues should be bulldozed by the Israeli army, citing what it said was previous Palestinian desecrations of other religions' holy sites as justification for the synagogue demolitions. But then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who said he opposed the demolitions, put the decision to Cabinet vote. The Cabinet decided against destroying the structures. Israel's chief rabbinate had petitioned the Supreme Court to halt the synagogue destructions, arguing the demolitions contravene Jewish law. Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, a member of the chief rabbinate, explained to WND at the time: "According to Jewish law, synagogues cannot be destroyed unless new ones are already built, and even then, the issues are complicated. Here, the former Gaza residents don't have homes yet to live in, new synagogues have not been built, so there isn't even a question." The senior rabbis also expressed fear Jews in other parts of the world may use bulldozings of the Gaza synagogues as precedent to destroy other abandoned synagogues. Upon being informed of the current status of the synagogue ruins, Dror Vanunu, a former Gush Katif resident who said, t sends pain straight to my heart and makes me sick to my stomach. In any other part of world this would be unacceptable? Where is the international outcry condemning use of a holy site for terrorism?"
'Devastating Response' if Iran Nukes Attacked
(Terrorists say Tehran providing instructions in case US, Israel strike atomic facilities)
Feb. 26….(WND) Iran is anticipating a US or Israeli military strike on its nuclear facilities and has been providing Palestinian terrorists and other regional allies with contingency plans for attacks against the Jewish state and American regional interests in the event of war, according to Palestinian terrorist leaders. A senior leader of the Islamic Jihad terror group, which Israel says is backed by Iran, told WND Tehran is expecting to be attacked, but he didn't provide a time frame in which Iran anticipates a strike. He claimed during any attack his organization has been directed by Iran to "wreck havoc" on Israel with suicide bombings, rocket attacks and "special surprises." He said rocket attacks would be launched from both the Gaza Strip and from the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem. He threatened his terror group will target American interests in the Middle East whether any purported strike against Tehran is carried out by Israel or the US. "The Zionists and the Americans are coordinated 100 percent. It doesn't matter who attacks Iran, we are planning to hit them both," said the Islamic Jihad leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he said the topic was "very sensitive." He said overall Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah has been coordinating war plans with Iran, Syria and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Lebanese militia. Shallah resides in Damascus and travels frequently to Tehran. Abu Ahmed, the northern West Bank chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror organization, told WND all major Palestinian militant organizations are preparing to work together in the event Iran is attacked. "Our strategy is not to leave the Islamic alliance (Iran) alone against the enemy. All Palestinian organizations will work together in shooting rockets, suicide bomb attacks and other steps and actions decided closely." The Brigades is the declared military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party. Together with Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the last two years. Israel says major Brigades cells in the Gaza Strip and West Bank receive Iranian funding through contacts with Hezbollah. "We are preparing the tomb that Allah is digging for the Zionists and Americans," said the Committees leader. He claimed during any US or Israeli military strike against Tehran, a response will be directed against Israel and American interests by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists. "The war will be a war on more than one front. It will be everybody against everybody. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinian organizations will work together. War with Iran is coming and it means the Middle East will not remain the same after it," the Committees leader said. Syria and Iran signed a military agreement in which either will respond if the other is attacked. Israeli security officials told WND Israel is not currently planning to strike Iran. Speaking theoretically, they said if any war breaks out involving Iran, they expect Syria, Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists to join the fray and attack Israel. The security officials said the greatest threat Syria poses to the Jewish state are the country's missiles. They noted Syria recently test-fired two Scud-D surface-to-surface missiles, which have a range of about 250 miles, covering most Israeli territory. According to information received by Israel, Russia is set to conclude a deal worth several hundred million dollars transferring thousands of advanced antitank missiles to Syria. Antitank missiles used by Hezbollah during Israel's war in Lebanon this past summer devastated Israeli tanks and caused the highest number of Israeli troop casualties during the 34 days of military confrontations. The claim by Palestinian terrorists Iran is preparing for war come as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday his country's nuclear program cannot stop while a deputy foreign minister vowed Tehran was prepared for any eventuality, "even for war." Manouchehr Mohammadi, a deputy at Iran's foreign ministry commented, "We have prepared ourselves for any situation, even for war." Iranian military commanders have said recent war games, the latest of which involved testing several missiles this month, show Iran's readiness to counter any attack. Meanwhile US Vice President Dick Cheney said over the weekend Iran's atomic ambitions must be curbed. He told reporters "all options" were on the table. During a visit to Australia, Cheney said it would be a "serious mistake" to allow Iran to become a nuclear power. An Australian newspaper quoted Cheney endorsing comments by US Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that the only thing worse than a military confrontation with Iran would be a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran ignored last week's United Nations deadline to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to fuel for nuclear power plants or produce material for warheads. Tehran claims it wants to negotiate but has repeatedly ruled out suspending its atomic program.
Iran Defiant as World Powers Meet in London
Feb. 26….(Arutz) The five member nations of the United Nations Security Council are being joined by Germany in a meeting in London to decide how to respond after Iran ignored another deadline to ends its nuclear development activities. Reports on Monday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has allocated an additional $1.4 billion to build nuclear power plants have ratcheted up international concerns that time is running out on diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from succeeding in its goal. Oil prices rose correspondingly in the past four days with the increasing tension over a looming confrontation between the Islamic Republic and the world body over its continuing installation of some 3,000 centrifuges used in the uranium enrichment process. The deadline which passed last week was the second in a series of ultimatums set by the world body in the past 12 months in an attempt to block Iran from winning its apparent race to build a nuclear bomb. Retorts by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that its nuclear program has “no brake and no reverse gear” have prompted US officials to increase efforts to install a “stop button” on the Iranian uranium enrichment activities. Ahmadinejad stated outright over the weekend that Iran had no intention of stopping its activities. “We dismantled the reverse gear and brakes of the train and threw them away some time ago,” he said in a speech in Teheran Sunday. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded in an interview on ABC-TV Sunday saying she is “prepared to meet with [my] counterpart or the Iranian representative at any time, if Iran will suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities. That should be a clear signal,” she commented. Iran launched another test rocket over the weekend, igniting additional fears that the Islamic Republic has progressed toward building an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 19 THROUGH FEBRARY 25
Israel Seeks All Clear for Iran Air Strike
Feb. 24….(Telegraph) Israel is negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq as part of a plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, The Daily Telegraph can reveal. To conduct surgical air strikes against Iran's nuclear program, Israeli war planes would need to fly across Iraq. But to do so the Israeli military authorities in Tel Aviv need permission from the Pentagon. A senior Israeli defense official said negotiations were now underway between the two countries for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an "air corridor" in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Teheran developing nuclear weapons. "We are planning for every eventuality, and sorting out issues such as these are crucially important," said the official, who asked not to be named. "The only way to do this is to fly through US-controlled air space. If we don't sort these issues out now we could have a situation where American and Israeli war planes start shooting at each other." As Iran continues to defy UN demands to stop producing material which could be used to build a nuclear bomb, Israel's military establishment is moving on to a war footing, with preparations now well under way for the Jewish state to launch air strikes against Teheran if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the crisis. The pace of military planning in Israel has accelerated markedly since the start of this year after Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, provided a stark intelligence assessment that Iran, given the current rate of progress being made on its uranium enrichment programme, could have enough fissile material for a nuclear warhead by 2009. Last week Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, announced that he had persuaded Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad for the past six years and one of Israel's leading experts on Iran's nuclear program, to defer his retirement until at least the end of next year. Mr. Olmert has also given overall control of the military aspects of the Iran issue to Eliezer Shkedi, the head of the Israeli Air Force and a former F-16 fighter pilot. The international community will increase the pressure on Iran when senior officials from the five permanent of the United Nations Security Council and Germany meet at an emergency summit to be held in London on Monday. Iran ignored a UN deadline of last Wednesday to halt uranium enrichment. Officials will discuss arms controls and whether to cut back on the $25 billion-worth of export credits which are used by European companies to trade with Iran. A high-ranking British source said: "There is a debate within the six countries on sanctions and economic measures." British officials insist that this "incremental" approach of tightening the pressure on Iran is starting to turn opinion within Iran. One source said: "We are on the right track. There is time for diplomacy to take effect."
The Phased Destruction of Israel
Feb. 24….(WND) Here are a few of many more salient details that highlight the striking geopolitical similarities between the phased destruction of Czechoslovakia by British diplomacy and German aggression and the betrayal and phased destruction of Israel by Anglo-American and EU/U.N. diplomacy and Arab aggression since the second intifada (1987) led to Madrid I and Oslo. The Arabs west of the Jordan River, both Israeli Arabs and those in the Autonomous areas have many more political and economic privileges and benefits than those in any other state. From medical care to virtually free electricity and water, to uncensored media that spew Nazi-style Jew hatred, their liberties reach license. Similarly, "the minorities of Czechoslovakia were the best-treated minorities in Europe [in the 1930s], and their agitations were noticeable precisely because they were living in a democratic liberal state that gave them the freedom to agitate," wrote Carroll Quigley in "Tragedy and Hope" from 1966. The resemblance to the violent, even murderous, agitation and the attentive media that follow and sometimes stage or prompt it in Israel is clear. Beginning in 1935, second Czech President Eduard Benes made numerous conciliatory offers toward self-rule for the Sudeten Germans. They were offered proportional representation throughout the Republic, but they declined it. One thinks of the gift of total autonomy within Area "A" with which the Arabs refuse to be satisfied, though Jordan and Egypt gave them no autonomy and little if any services. In 1937, Czech Prime Minister Hodza offered to transfer all German administrators serving in the Czech government to the Sudeten area so that they could be entirely self-ruled. But "none of these suggestions was acceptable to Konrad Henlein [head of the Sudeten German Party] for the simple reason that he wanted no concessions within Czechoslovakia. His real desire was to destroy the Czechoslovak state." Here is a precise description of the position and rejectionist behavior of all the Arab states to an Israeli state, no matter how small, since 1937 right down to the PLO, Fatah and Hamas today. They don't want concessions; their real desire is to destroy the Jewish State, as they often state while Western diplomats minimize or back page the ugly and lethal fact. Indeed, the pressure on the victim to submit is relentless, the guarantees increasingly strained and absurd for all concerned. But concessions continue to be offered, then and now, under pressure of the great power "friend" of the beleaguered nation in question. Months before Hitler demanded self-rule for the Germans in the Sudetenland, Neville Chamberlain, Lords Halifax and Lothian among others were privately discussing, inadvertently "leaking" and eventually publicly stating that the Czechs should cede their entire mountainous region outright. This demand for conciliation actually was a blatant recipe for dismemberment and ruin because the nation's system of fortifications ran through the mountain region. The Sudeten Mountains then, the mountains of Judea and Samaria today. A historian asks: How could Czechoslovakia have its peace or even its existence guaranteed by France, as the British claimed, after surrendering its key defensive positions when, according to the British, it could not be guaranteed by France, Russia and England with these defenses intact because Britain was overextended? How will the United States, even with the best will in the world, be able to guarantee and maintain the existence of Israel minus Judea and Samaria when it claims that peace will never come so long as Israel retains its heartland and mountain barrier and maintains full autonomy for its own armed forces? One last parallel to emphasize: Just as the Czech armed forces' quantity were on par with those of Germany in fall 1938 and the quality of their forces far superior, so is the quality of Israel's armed forces today still far superior to those of its neighbors. But without its mountain barrier, Jewish settlements, and with EU, UN and NATO troops in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, these advantages will be gravely compromised. History does repeat itself; but with awareness the game need not again be played out till checkmate, global catastrophe and holocaust.
Judge Orders 'Gay' Agenda Taught to Christian Children
(Rules kids need teachings to be 'engaged and productive citizens')
Feb. 24….(WND) A federal judge in Massachusetts has ordered the "gay" agenda taught to Christians who attend a public school in Massachusetts, finding that they need the teachings to be "engaged and productive citizens." US District Judge Mark L. Wolf yesterday dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought by David Parker, ordering that it is reasonable, indeed there is an obligation, for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality. Wolf essentially adopted the reasoning in a brief submitted by a number of homosexual-advocacy groups, who said "the rights of religious freedom and parental control over the upbringing of children, would undermine teaching and learning," David and Tonia Parker and Joseph and Robin Wirthlin, who have children of school age in Lexington, Mass., brought the lawsuit. They alleged district officials and staff at Estabrook Elementary School violated state law and civil rights by indoctrinating their children about a lifestyle they, as Christians, teach is immoral. "Wolf's ruling is every parent's nightmare. It goes to extraordinary lengths to legitimize and reinforce the 'right' (and even the duty) of schools to normalize homosexual behavior to even the youngest of children.” "In the ruling, Wolf makes the absurd claim that normalizing homosexuality to young children is 'reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy.' According to Wolf, this means teaching 'diversity' which includes 'differences in sexual orientation.' "In addition, Wolf makes the odious statement that the Parkers' only options are (1) send their kids to a private school, (2) home-school their kids, or (3) elect a majority of people to the School Committee who agree with them. Can you imagine a federal judge in the Civil Rights era telling blacks the same thing, that if they can't be served at a lunch counter they should just start their own restaurant, or elect a city council to pass laws that reflect the US Constitution?" the organization said. The judge concluded that even allowing Christians to withdraw their children from classes or portions of classes where the religious beliefs were being violated wasn't a reasonable expectation. "An exodus from class when issues of homosexuality or same-sex marriage are to be discussed could send the message that gays, lesbians, and the children of same-sex parents are inferior and, therefore, have a damaging effect on those students," he opined. "Under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy," the judge wrote. "Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation." And, he said, since history "includes instances of official discrimination against gays and lesbians, it is reasonable for public educators to teach elementary school students different sexual orientations."
Rising Tensions With Iran
24….(Washington Times) As the Wednesday deadline set by the United Nations
for Tehran to back down from its controversial nuclear program failed to be met,
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was ready for talks but rejected US
preconditions that the Islamic Republic freeze its nuclear works. In any case,
some of Iran's preconditions have already slammed the door shut on possible
future talks. The Islamic Republic suggests a complete nuclear free zone in the
Middle East. This of course, would mean Israel, although it has never officially
admitted to possessing nuclear weapons, would be required by such an agreement
to dispose of its nuclear arsenal, something hardly likely to happen anytime in
the near future. The foreseeable future in fact does not appear promising for
US-Iranian relations. With no direct dialogue between Tehran and Washington,
tension in the area is only likely to increase. This week, a second US carrier
task force, the USS John C. Stennis, will reach the Gulf around the same time
Iranian revolutionary guards are conducting one of the largest military
exercises involving live ammunition. Washington and the West insist on a Middle
East devoid of nuclear weapons, excluding Israel, citing fears that if Iran
manages to build a nuclear bomb, other countries in the region would likely want
to follow suit. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, all three Sunni-dominated
countries, are likely candidates to join the nuclear club. Saudi Arabia
certainly has the means to buy itself a nuclear weapon or two or three, or maybe
entice Pakistani scientists to come to work in the desert kingdom in return for
lucrative financial contracts and benefits. Meanwhile, Ali Larijani, Iran's top
negotiator on nuclear affairs said his country is "looking for new ways and
means to start negotiations," as he headed into a new round of talks with
Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency for an
11th-hour meeting in Vienna Tuesday. At the end of the day the final decision
regarding Iran's nuclear program rests with the country's Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But an early indication came from Mr. Ahmadinejad, who
stressed that Iran would stand fast by its commitments to pursue its nuclear
program. And so far the vast majority of Iran's leaders have maintained the same
approach toward their nuclear policy. "If they say that we should close down our
fuel production facilities to resume talks, we say fine, but those who enter
talks with us should also close down their nuclear fuel production facilities,"
Mr. Ahmadinejad said, in essence closing the door to future negotiations on the
1) As a conventional military power, Iran has limited capabilities. It could become more threatening if it was allowed to modernize its military components.
(2) Iran can pose an asymmetric threat using unconventional forces.
(3) Iran's capabilities to use proxies, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, strengthen its asymmetric power.
(4) Iran has the potential to develop nuclear-armed long-range missiles.
(5) Iran's could promote religious and ideological feelings in the Islamic world that would exacerbate the schism between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.
Cordesman's report, specifically parts of it that relate to Iran's capability of carrying out asymmetrical warfare, is something every US military planner thinking of engaging Iran, from the commander in chief to the platoon's 2nd lieutenant in the field, must study thoroughly.
Walid Phares: Iraq Withdrawal Would Be A Catastrophe
Feb. 23….(Newsmax) Leaving Iraq with the job undone would lead to a catastrophe with as much as 30% of the world's oil reserves in the hands of the Islamic jihadists, says the nation's leading expert on Islam. So says Dr. Walid Phares, author of "Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against the West," the most complete work on the history of Islam and the Islamic holy war now being waged against the United States and the West. Phares is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy. He is also the author of "The War of Ideas: Jihad against Democracy." He is a world-renowned terrorism and Middle East expert. In an exclusive interview with NewsMax, Phares laid out the frightening scenario of a Middle East in turmoil in the wake of a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq: "If we get out of Iraq without achieving strategic goals, it would not be just a defeat in Iraq," Phares warned. "It will be a regional defeat. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will link up with Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq,with President Bashar Assad in Syria, and with Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, and you're going to have four countries under one jihadist leadership. Imagine all the resources involved there. "The Sunni-Salafist-Wahabi element in the Sunni triangle will link with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, and put pressure on the government, which may fall. So what you're talking about is one-quarter to 30% of oil reserves on both sides of the Persian Gulf under jihadi regimes. What we had with the Taliban, a very poor regime with no oil, and just look at what they produced: a 9/11. So, think about what these regimes could do when combined. They'd produce a catastrophe of huge dimensions." In answer to those who want the United States to enter into negotiations with Syria and Iran, Phares said: "I am opposed to the idea of negotiating with dictatorships that are at odds with their own people, regimes who have been slaughtering their own people. "The Bashar Assad regime in Syria killed 20,000 people in Hama and has occupied Lebanon for 32 years. It supports Hezbollah's terrorism. What would be the idea of talking to him? The only talk I could consider would be for him to reform. If he reforms, his regime will fall, because in Syria they want change. Hence, the only talk he would accept would be for us to empower him even further and accept his influence in the region and in Lebanon. "The same thing would apply to Iran with a with the Ahmadinejad regime. What we need to do is to talk to the people of Syria and Iran. The reformers, the democracy groups, the dissidents, and people who within the regime are ready to change." Asked to estimate the number of jihadist insurgents worldwide, Phares had some unsettling news. "It depends on what the duty of such people [insurgents] would be," he told NewsMax. "Suicide bombers would be lower in number than of those who will fight, those who will spy, those who will provide funds. There are about from 5% to 8% jihadist sympathizers in the Muslim world, which is 1.1 billion, so we are talking about 50 to 60 million who sympathize with these ideas. "They are all not committed, but out of those you have probably 1% of people who would fight. That's an army of 1 million. Among those, if you want to go to the most narrow dimension, there are about 100,000 suicide bombers around the world. For example, in Iraq there are probably 5,000, in Iran another 8,000 to 10,000, and within Hezbollah, 2,000. "There is a pool of 100,000 people who have received this jihadist ideology and could be recruited for suicide bombing. Internationally, from an operational standpoint, there are somewhere around 5,000, and that's a huge number of suicide bombers. Walid Pheres ended his comments on the war-on-terror by saying, "whoever will be enabled to shape the minds of Americans as to the identity of the enemy will win the war on terror.”
UN Launches World-Wide Blitz Against Israel
Feb. 23….(Arutz) The United Nations, Russia, Arab states and the media have escalated an international broadside against Israel while touting the Hamas-Fatah coalition. A report by the UN Human Rights Council has provided the background for the Arab position, backed by Russia, that the Western-led economic boycott of Hamas must be lifted in order to fight poverty in the Gaza area. The council report was commissioned to John Dugard, who formerly campaigned against South Africa apartheid and who concluded that the racist policy is similar to that of Israel. He defined Jews as a "race" and charged that the Israeli army is guilty of terror worse than that of Arab terrorists. Dugard's draft is to be published next month in a full report by the UN. Dugard wrote that "Israel's laws and practices in the Palestinian Authority (PA) certainly resemble aspects of apartheid. Can it seriously be denied that the purpose of such action is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group, Jews, over another racial group, Palestinians, and systematically oppress them?" The report accuses Israel of terror by flying jets that set off sonic booms, forcing "residents to live in fear of settler terror." Dugard also alleges that Israel still is "occupying" the Gaza region despite the expulsion of Jewish residents from their communities and the handover of the land to the PA. "Gaza became a sealed off, imprisoned and occupied territory," he wrote. He cited Arabs for committing war crimes by attacking Israel with Kassam rockets, but added that the IDF has "committed such crimes on a much greater scale." Media throughout the world have headlined the report's assertion that Israeli "restrictions on trade and movement" have created conditions where "the poorest families are now living a meager existence totally reliant on assistance, with no electricity or heating and eating food prepared with water from bad sources." The report's timing "is especially sensitive, coming to light after both Israel and the US indicated that they will maintain the boycott after the planned Fatah-Hamas coalition cabinet takes office unless it clearly commits itself to recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and adherence to previous agreements with Israel," noted the London Independent. The report ignores aid that has been redirected through the offices of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in order to bypass Hamas, leaving the PA as one of the world's largest recipients of foreign economic aid. The International Monetary Fund (International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reported that the PA received $709 million in aid in 2006, double the amount received in 2005. The aid figures do not include hundreds of millions of dollars invested by various UN agencies in Gaza. In addition, Hamas leaders have smuggled more than $60 million into Gaza. Another report by a UN agency and published by Reuters News Agency blames Israel's attack on Gaza's "only power station" for leaving the "Occupied Palestinian Territories" without electricity. However, Dugard does not mention that Israel's Ashkelon power plant also provides electricity to many PA residents. The increasing blame on Israel for problems in the PA, along with the mounting pressure from Russia have contributed to a change in the policy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has indicated he is prepared to deal with Hamas. "It is far easier to deal with the situation in Palestine if there is a national unity government," he said. "I hope we can make progress, including even with the more sensible elements of Hamas." The United States has been the staunchest opponent of lifting the sanctions against Hamas, but American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has conceded that Abbas out-maneuvered Israel by collaborating with Hamas to form a unity government, which she stated has made the situation "more complicated." The result was a meeting this week between her, Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, that analysts agreed was an exercise in rhetoric, although the conversation included angry shouts between the Israeli and PA leaders.
Hamas Damascus Based Leader Khaleed Mashaal To Visit Moscow
The Roadmap Quartet so far has insisted Hamas meet international demands, but the terrorist organization continues to drum up international support, starting with Russia, one of the members of the Quartet. Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is scheduled to visit Moscow from Sunday to Tuesday, as Moscow continues to ignore Israeli pleas that international powers not conduct talks with leaders of the Hamas organization. Abbas, the leader of the Fatah movement, has been courting European nations, claiming that the unity government is committed to meeting international conditions even though Hamas explicitly refuses to do so. Fatah has paid lip-service to the conditions, but terrorist attacks by Fatah terrorists continue almost daily. Abbas also has conditioned his "recognition of Israel' on demands, which every recent Israeli government has categorically stated are unreasonable. Abbas has said a Jewish state could be recognized only after Jerusalem becomes the capital of a new Arab country and millions of Arabs in foreign countries are allowed to live in Israel. A group of 57 Muslim countries meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has agreed to step up pressure and try to force the Quartet to lift the economic sanctions against Hamas. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) also continues to accuse Israel of endangering the Al Aksa mosque by conducting archaeological operations near the Temple Mount. "In light of the positive developments in Palestine and formation of the national unity government, the international embargo against Palestinians has no justification," said Ekmel Al Deen Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC. He called on the Arab countries, including oil-rich kingdoms, to provide financial and moral support to Jerusalem Arabs and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Hamas Complains US is Undermining PA Unity Deal
Feb. 22….(JNEWSWIRE) The Islamic militant group Hamas accused the United States today of trying to thwart European efforts to ease an economic blockade on the new Palestinian unity government. The so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators, comprising the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, repeated a demand on Wednesday that any Palestinian government renounce violence, and that it recognize Israel and accept interim peace deals. Though the Mecca orchestrated unity government fell short of directly meeting those demands, Western diplomats said the agreement between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction widened divisions within the Quartet. The United States and Israel want to continue to shun the unity government; (since it continues to flaunt terror) while Russia and some other European governments favor a more conciliatory line to the Hamas-led unity government. Hamas cabinet spokesman Ghazi Hamad said the group, which took control of the Palestinian government in March after winning parliamentary elections, was encouraged by what it called a "wait and see" approach by the Quartet. Citing divisions between the United States and some European countries over policy, Hamad said: "I believe there is a possibility to change the Quartet's position in a more positive manner to deal with the government." But Palestinian Information Minister Youssef Rizqa of Hamas said: "the United States aims to undermine the European and Russian efforts in order to continue the siege imposed on our people." Israel pointed to statements by the Quartet after a meeting in Berlin as a sign that the group would hold the new government to the three conditions. "They're not obstacles to peace, they are prerequisites for a “successful peace process," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. The UN announced that the US-led boycott of the Hamas-led government has pushed the Palestinian Authority to the brink of financial collapse and raised poverty rates in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank. The report by the UN World Food Program, estimated that nearly half of Palestinians were unable to produce or access the food they needed, and condemned the US for practicing war against poor Palestinians.
FOJ Note: The Palestinian Unity Government is a charade, and is just a smoke and mirrors scheme to justify a terrorist state in Palestine.
Syria Boosting Arsenal in War Preparedness
Feb. 22….(AP) Syria has embarked on an "unprecedented" effort to bolster its armed forces with Iranian and Russian help, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported Thursday. Damascus has large numbers of surface-based missiles and long-range rockets, including the Scud-D, capable of reaching nearly any target in Israel, the report said, and the Syrian navy has received new Iranian anti-ship missiles. Haaretz also said Russia was about to sell Syria thousands of advanced anti-tank missiles, despite Israeli charges that in the past Syria has transferred those missiles to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Syrian officials did not immediately comment on the Israeli reports, but President Bashar Assad said in a television interview immediately after the fighting that Syria was preparing to defend itself. Israeli defense officials confirmed that Syria had ordered new stocks of the anti-tank weapons after noting Hezbollah's successful use of them against Israeli armor in last summer's fighting in south Lebanon. Syria also ordered new supplies of surface-to-sea missiles after Hezbollah used one to hit an Israeli warship, killing four crewmen, off the Lebanese coast last July, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The officials said Syrian ground forces adjacent to the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights had been reinforced after the outbreak of last year's Israel-Hezbollah conflict and had not yet fully returned to their prewar footing. Israel and Syria are officially at war, though there have been no open hostilities between them for decades. Syria has demanded the return of the Golan, which Israel captured in 1967 and later annexed, as the price for any peace deal. Israel says it will not discuss a formal treaty with its northern neighbor as long as Damascus continues to back Hezbollah and the radical Islamic Hamas group.
Syria Massing Troops on Israeli Border
Feb. 22….(Ha Aretz)
Syria is boosting its army and moving troops closer to its border with Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said yesterday that Israel should refrain
from making further statements regarding Syria, and urged officials to avoid a
verbal escalation of tensions. Speaking at his weekly meeting with Defense
Ministry officials, Peretz said that the situation would be assessed based on
concrete information, and that the army would prepare itself as necessary.
Earlier Thursday, Israel Radio quoting Syrian parliament member Mohammed Habash
as denying the Haaretz report. According to the radio, Habash told the
Dubai-based Al Arabiya satellite channel that nothing has changed in
terms of troop size along the border, but "Syria is fully prepared for any
situation that may develop." Habash warned that should "Israel decide to do
something stupid, it would pay a heavy price." Addressing the charge that
Syria's military buildup is being funded by Iran, the radio quoted Habash as
saying that the "cooperation between Damascus and Tehran is no secret, as both
are being faced with a direct threat from Israel (and the US)." The
Syrian armed forces are being strengthened in an unprecedented way in recent
memory with the help of generous funding from Iran and its troops appear to
be moving closer to the border with Israel. The Syrians are bolstering their
forces in all areas except the air force, which has been believed to be weak for
some time. The main emphasis of the efforts has been missiles and long-range
rockets to compensate for the weak air force. The Syrian navy, after years of
neglect, is also being reinforced with an Iranian version of a Chinese anti-ship
missile, similar to the one used by Hezbollah during the second Lebanon war to
strike the Israeli destroyer INS Hanit. In addition to the overall strengthening
of the armed forces in Syria, there has been a redeployment of forces along the
front lines. It appears that the Syrians have moved forces closer to the
border with Israel on the Golan Heights. The 1973 Yom Kippur War on the
Syrian front began with a raid by helicopter-borne Syrian commandos on the
Hermon listening post, which they then occupied. Syria's rebuilding of its
military strength has also included test launches of ballistic missiles. Lately,
the Syrians test-fired a Scud-D surface-to-surface missile, the latest version
of a Soviet-era missile. The Scud-D has a 400-kilometer range and covers most of
the territory of Israel. In addition to the larger Scud-type missiles, Syria is
in possession of two smaller rockets, and both have been supplied to Hezbollah.
The missiles and rockets are part of an effort by Russia to compensate for the
obvious weakness of the Syrian air force. This way Syrians could strike Israeli
cities and also carry out accurate attacks against military targets inside the
country. The newest and most surprising aspect of the Syrian effort is taking
place in its naval forces. Syria has chosen to adopt some of the Lebanon war's
lessons, and with Iranian help they have renewed emphasis on their navy. The
Hezbollah success against the Israeli navy came with the use of upgraded
Chinese-made C-802 missiles. Hezbollah launched these missiles against the
destroyer INS Hanit, probably with the direct support of Iranian officers. A
missile struck the ship, killed four crew members and caused serious damage.
Damascus is close to concluding a large deal with Russia to procure thousands of
advanced anti-tank missiles for the Syrian army, according to information
received in Israel recently. Such a development suggests that Israel's
diplomatic efforts to block the sale have failed. During the war in Lebanon last
summer Israel found proof that Syria had transferred to Hezbollah advanced
Russian-made anti-tank missiles from its arsenal. Until Israel was able to
produce such evidence the authorities in Moscow refused to acknowledge that
advanced Russian-made weapons were being transferred to Hezbollah. But after the
war, an Israeli delegation that included members of the National Security
Council and the Foreign Ministry presented the evidence to senior Russian
officials. The Russians promised to reevaluate some of the planned arms deals
with Syria to ensure that advanced weaponry would not make its way to terrorist
organizations such as Hezbollah. However, there are now concerns in Israel that
Russia will not keep its promise and that the deal with Damascus for the
anti-tank missiles is near being finalized. Syria stepped up its efforts to
convince Russia to make the sale following the lessons it reached from the war
Quartet Roadmap Sponsors Makes Hamas Smile
Feb. 22….(JNEWSWIRE) Desperate to chop up the Holy Land in a vain attempt to bring peace to the Middle East, the international community on Wednesday declined to cut ties with the defiant terror-supporting Palestinian Authority. Meeting in Berlin, representatives of the self-styled "Middle East Quartet" - comprised of the US, European Union, UN and Russia - said they would "wait and see" what kind of unity government the Palestinian Arabs form before passing judgement. That despite the fact that Hamas, which holds a majority in the PA parliament and has been tasked with forming the new government, continues to openly reject Israel's right to even exist. The Quartet indicated it still hopes its darling, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas will bring "moderation" to the new ruling regime, ignoring Abbas' own admittance earlier in the week that bringing Hamas in line with international peace principles is not his priority. Hamas officials cited by Reuters on Thursday said they were very satisfied by the Quartet's position. The international community's past record in dealing with "Palestinian" terrorists would support Hamas' confidence that this episode will end positively for the group.
UN Security Council’s Iran Sanctions Accompanied by US Navy buildup and Iranian War Games
Feb. 21….(DEBKA) The arrival in the region of the carrier USS Stennis strike group with more than 6,500 sailors to join the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is causing concern in Tehran, which faces tougher sanctions at the Security Council for missing the 60-day deadline for suspending uranium enrichment, as confirmed by the nuclear watchdog director Mohammed ElBaradei. Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani warned Tuesday that any “non-conventional, illogical or irrational” moves against Iran would definitely receive an appropriate response. He said the issue could only be resolved through dialogue. Top US Navy commander in the Middle East vice Adm. Patrick Walsh told newsmen Monday that Iran had brought its war games over the past year into the busy shipping lanes in the Straits of Hormuz, through which two-fifths of the world’s oil supplies pass. The moves alarmed US officials about possible accidental confrontations that could boil over into war. During maneuvers, Iranian sailors have loaded mines onto small mine-laying boats and test-fired a Shahab-3 missile into international waters very close to the straits, said the US vice admiral. "The Shahab-3 most recently went into waters very close to the traffic separation scheme in the straits themselves. This gives us concern because innocent passage of vessels now is threatened," Walsh said in the interview Monday on the base of the Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain. Iran tested the Shahab during November maneuvers, which it said were in response to US maneuvers in the Gulf it called "adventurist." Iran also showed off an array of new torpedoes in war games in April. Walsh said the increase in US firepower in the Gulf region aims to reassure Arab allies in the Gulf and prevent misunderstandings that could escalate into outright conflict. Walsh, who departs his command of the Fifth Fleet this month to become vice chief of naval operations at the Pentagon, the Navy's No. 2 post, said the Navy was responding to “more instability than we’ve seen in years” in the Fifth Fleet’s region. He listed conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, tensions in Lebanon and the standoff with Iran and its increasing "provocations." Iranian vessels, he said, have been making "probing" incursions into Iraqi waters. Regarding a possible US Navy attack if a multi-casualty incident in Iraq was traced back to Tehran, Walsh said he could not to discuss the Navy's rules of engagement, but added, "There are events on land that can spill over onto the sea." The additional U.S. firepower has ratcheted up tensions with Iran. But Walsh said the increase aims to reassure Arab allies in the Gulf and prevent misunderstandings that could escalate into outright conflict. The Navy has grown increasingly alarmed at what Walsh called Iran's "provocations." Since the Stennis was ordered to the region, Iranian leaders have increasingly warned that they would respond to any attack by closing off oil shipping lanes or attacking US interests. The Straits of Hormuz are 34 miles across, but its shipping lanes are only about six miles wide. Walsh said it was doubtful that Iran could physically block the entire six-mile lanes with mines, but hitting only a few vessels with missiles and mines would "terrorize" shipping and have the same effect. "It's more the threat of mines than the threat of closing the straits. That would have dramatic effects on markets around the world," he said. Walsh said his biggest worry was that Iran would underestimate US resolve to protect its interests in the world's richest oil region. He said the tone of Iranian leaders could make their commanders on the ground more reckless. "It's a mix and a formulation where you can have misunderstanding," he said. At the same time, Walsh said he understood that US-allied Gulf nations feared that any US-Iranian military conflict could bring attacks on their soil. Walsh said he was aware that a University of Maryland/Zogby International poll of Arab public opinion this month showed residents of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other allies believe Iran is far less a threat than the US and Israel.
Israel Experiences A Rise In Western Aliyah In 2006
Feb. 21….(Arutz) Immigration to Israel from several key countries increased in 2006 as compared to 2005. A report released Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) revealed a slight rise in the number of immigrants coming from English-speaking countries, with the highest percentage arriving from North America. According to the report, 11.2% of the new olim (immigrants) in 2006 came from North America, an increase over the previous year, in which they comprised 9.7% of new immigrants. CBS statistics indicated that a total of 2,157 North American Jews immigrated in 2006, as opposed to 2,045 the year before. A similar trend was seen from Great Britain whose Jews comprised 3.2% of aliyah in 2006, an increase of 1.3% over 2005. 595 British Jews came to live in Israel in 2006, as compared to 383 in 2005. From Ethiopia as well, more Jews came home to Israel in 2006. The new olim, numbering 3595, comprised 18.7% of all immigrants, as opposed to 3571 in 2005. Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) dropped in numbers by 3.9% as compared to 2005. The former USSR nationals, who still comprise the lion’s share of total immigration to the Jewish State – 66.7 percent in 2006, included people from Asian, Eastern European, Russian and Ukrainian countries. Of those, the majority (32.1%) came from Eastern Europe. Taking into account the mixed Jewish and non-Jewish immigration from the FSU, the total immigration figures dropped to its lowest levels since 1988, with less than 20,000 people choosing to live in the Jewish State, a drop of nine percent over 2005.
Once Again, Abbas Says Peace Not His Priority
Feb. 21….(JNEWSWIRE) Once again, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas - that illustrious, Holocaust-denying “moderate” - has openly stated that his primary concern is with forwarding “Palestinian” national interests, and not necessarily with making peace with Israel. Will anyone listen to him this time? Certainly not in the halls of power in Washington and Jerusalem. For all the world to hear, Abbas stated on Tuesday that the power-sharing deal he struck with Hamas this month in Mecca was not intended to bring the terror group in line with international peace principles. “We told Israel that this agreement was made to protect the unity of the Palestinian people [sic] and its national interests,” Abbas told reporters in Amman. “The agreement is an expression of support for Palestinian interests, but Israel may have misunderstood it.” The problem for Israel is that “Palestinian” interests, as expressed in the overwhelming election of Hamas, are primarily centered on the destruction of the Jewish state. For Abbas to “protect” those interests by making himself a fig leaf for Hamas’ virulent positions should be evidence of where this “peace” process really stands. Perhaps more and more Israeli officials will finally wake up to the fact that the “Palestinians” are not and never were real peace partners.
Iran Now Controlling The Power Balance In Middle East
Feb. 20….(KIN/Bill Wilson) Iran is now determining the power structure of the Middle East as it is arming and financing terrorist groups that strategically surround Israel and is working at breakneck speed in developing the ingredients for a nuclear bomb. In an interview with the London Financial Times, United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran has mastered crucial nuclear technology since August and could be as little as six months away from being able to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. Nevertheless, ElBaradei maintains that Iran is five to six years away from making a nuclear bomb. Other estimates shorten that time frame to less than a year. According to a compilation of various reports, Iran is also the coordinating and financing point for a host of terrorist organizations including al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and others. DEBKAfile reports that Syria, using Iranian money has acquired sophisticated shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles from Russia and has turned them over to Hezbollah in Lebanon. On February 6, former Israeli Defense Force chief Moshe Yaalan revealed that Iran has provided funding for both Hamas and Fatah. Fatah is also supported by the United States and is the terrorist group/political party of the US supported “Palestinian President” Mahmoud Abbas. Israel is virtually surrounded by Iranian funded terrorist organizations. Former advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Rani Levy told a breakfast group at the National Religious Broadcasters meeting in Orlando, Fl. that he cannot give one example around the world where a country is surrounded by as much hate as is faced by Israel. Levy blames much of the problem on the US-backed roadmap for peace, which he says is a fundamental mistake in giving land for peace. Levy says it sends the message to the terrorists that “If you inflict more terror on Israel, Israel will give up more concessions.” He said it is time for Israel to come to its senses and tell the world, including the United States, that Israel will no longer give up land for peace. The regional instability and pressure Iran is causing will soon reach a breaking point. Insider sources are saying that Israel is planning a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Russia Monday announced it was delaying construction on one of Iran’s nuclear plants, citing Iran had fallen behind in payments, but Russia may be protecting further investments in the event of military action against the plant. The US has a large fleet in the Persian Gulf. These are all signs of a pending conflict. One way or another Iran’s apocalyptic desires may soon come to a head. Meanwhile, the diplomats continue to fall prey to Iran’s negotiations, delays, and promises of peace. Jeremiah 8:15 says, “We looked for peace, but no good came.”
Secretary Rice Huddles with Arab Allies
Feb. 20….(YNET) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice huddled today with Arab allies alarmed by Mahmoud Abbas' new power-sharing pact with Hamas militants. The planned Palestinian coalition government fell far short of what the United States and Israel wanted, and also disappointed Sunni Arab states that had hoped Hamas would soften anti-Israeli policies enough to satisfy the West and restart the flow of vital international aid. Arab diplomats say Rice invited security and intelligence chiefs from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates to ask their advice on what, if anything, can be done to persuade Hamas to back down. Rice and Abbas were both meeting Jordanian King Abdullah II, but their sessions were separate. Both were reporting on progress from their three-way summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. For Abbas that meant explaining that he had failed to persuade Israel and Rice that the incoming Palestinian government would fulfill conditions for the restoration of foreign aid. King Abdullah is one of the US allies, but has public misgivings about the possibility of civil war among the Palestinians, as well as in Iraq. Jordan has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Middle East conflicts. Abdullah and other Sunni Arab allies have strongly urged the Bush administration to energize peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, partly to improve the Palestinians' lot, partly to tamp down Islamic extremism that those governments see as a threat and partly to counter the influence of Shiite Iran. Egypt, Jordan and the UAE have all tried their hand at persuading Hamas to moderate its stance enough to end the international aid boycott and allow Palestinian peace talks with Israel. Saudi Arabia brokered the deal announced earlier this month without the blessing of the United States. US officials have praised Saudi King Abdullah for attempting to help end months of Palestinian infighting but say they will reserve judgment on the deal until the government takes shape. Arab diplomats say the Saudi king thought Hamas would move further than it did, and Abbas apparently thought the same. Abbas, a supposed moderate who is pledged to peace with Israel, has said the coalition deal is the best he can get from Hamas and goes a long way toward stabilizing the region. Sec. Rice referred to a dormant 2002 Arab League peace proposal that would have offered wide Arab diplomatic recognition of Israel in exchange for Israel's retreat to its borders before the 1967 Mideast War when Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem. "I don't want others to stand on the sideline and say, you know, the United States needs to deliver the completion of the roadmap. Everybody's got obligations. And one thing that I'll be talking to the Arabs about is what they can do to make this happen."
'Dealing With Iran Crucial to Israel'
Feb. 20….(Jerusalem Post) US President George W. Bush places the utmost priority on stopping a nuclear Iran but he needs help, Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) said Monday as he led a bicameral delegation from the United States to discuss security issues with Knesset members. "In all of the years that I have been coming to Israel, one thing stands out to me above all others as crucial to the security of this country, and that is the need to deal with Iran," Kyl told The Jerusalem Post. The senator, who has a close relationship with President Bush, serves as head of the US-Israel Joint Parliamentary Committee on National Security with MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud). While some are pushing for the United States to consider a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, Kyl stressed that at this point the US was relying on economic sanctions to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear arsenal. "The US has been criticized for taking unilateral action in Iraq," Kyl said. "We would like to see how much support we could get from Europe on Iran to impose very serious and tough economic sanctions. Europe can still put a lot more effort into this." It is important for Israel to develop defensive capabilities, but hopefully they will not be forced to use them, said Kyl, referring to the newly tested Arrow missile. Kyl was instrumental in securing US funding for the system. While Iran is at the focus of the talks, the lawmakers also discussed the future of the road map. "Congress won't take action on the Palestinian issue," said Kyl. "We will support Rice. There might be funding to the Palestinians, even though Israel does not have a partner for peace. "It is not for Israel or the United States to take initiative right now," said Kyl. "It is up to the Palestinians. People that are pro-Palestinian wish that the US would exert more influence, but the US doesn't have much influence on the Palestinians. What they really mean is that they want the US to convince Israel to make more concessions, and we won't do that."
US Would Attack Iran if a High-Casualty Iraq Attack is Traced Directly to Tehran
Feb. 20….(DEBKA) A new presidential directive extends the license President George W. Bush issued last month to US troops to capture or kill Iranian agents supporting Iraqi insurgency and al Qaeda attacks on American forces. It is causing great concern in Tehran's ruling circles, especially as the new license may well be applied when the downing of a large US helicopter ends in a heavy US death toll. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that American commanders in Iraq are studying the innovative methods for shooting down US aircraft which Iranian Revolutionary Guards instructors are imparting to Iraqi insurgents. Maj. Gen James E. Simmons, deputy commander of US forces in Iraq, describes multiple weapons systems fired at the same time as having brought down 7 American helicopters in the last month. This, says Simmons, is the sign of “a thinking enemy,” although sometimes the insurgents appear to have got lucky and hit helicopters with automatic weapons fire as they chanced by. The New York Times reports these multiple systems may include shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and unguided rockets that can’t be diverted by American helicopters’ anti-heat-seeking flares. Our military sources say this mix of weaponry is designed to ambush the aircraft at any altitude chosen to escape the ground fire. Under the new presidential directive, the downing of a helicopter carrying a large number of US troops could trigger a bombing campaign against Iran such as, for example, the dispatch of long-range B2 stealth bombers with bunker-busting bombs for dropping on the 25m deep Natanz site, where centrifuges are positioned for enriching uranium. Attacks could also be mounted against Iran’s military infrastructure.
Russia: Countries That Host US Missile Shield Will Be Targeted
Feb. 20….(Fox News) Poland and the Czech Republic risk being targeted by Russian missiles if they agree to host elements of the proposed US missile defense system, a top Russian general warned Monday in the latest in a series of increasingly bellicose statements from Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has said he does not trust US claims that it wants to deploy missile defense components in Europe to counter threats from Iran, and warned that Russia could take retaliatory action. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, head of Russia's missile forces, said the US move would upset strategic stability. "If the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic take such a step ... the Strategic Missile Forces will be capable of targeting these facilities if a relevant decision is made," he said. The United States said last month that it wants to build a missile defense system in eastern Europe to protect the eastern United States and Europe from missiles launched from "rogue nations" in the Middle East. It would be the first such site in Europe. The Czech government reiterated Monday that the US defense system was not aimed at Russia. "It is a passive defense against a different threat about which Russia has been informed in detail," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement from Prague. "It is nonsense from a military point of view that Russia could pull out of the treaty banning medium-range missiles and build additional military capabilities as a response to the US missile defense." But Solovtsov voiced concerns that Washington, which is planning to deploy 10 interceptors in Poland, could boost their number in the future. He warned that a hypothetical military action could have "grave consequences for all parties involved." He also said that it would take only five or six years, or even less, to build new, upgraded versions of missiles scrapped under the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the 1987 agreement signed by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagen banning medium-range missiles. At a security conference in Munich earlier this month, Putin said the INF treaty was outdated, and that many nations had since developed medium-range missiles eliminated by Russia and the United States. The chief of the military's General Staff later warned that Moscow's decision to pull out of the treaty would depend on whether the United States deploys the missile defense components in Europe.
Sec. Rice: Palestinian State Unlikely Before End of Bush Presidency
Feb. 19….(DEBKA) Expectations are low of the three-cornered US-Israel-Palestinian talks which opened in Jerusalem Monday overcoming the impasse. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice had hoped that the meeting she led between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert Monday, Feb. 19, would be a step toward the Middle East peace track. But the impasse remained. Abbas has entrusted Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh with forming a new Palestinian government, despite that Palestinian group’s refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence. He acted in line with the Mecca Accords for ending Palestinian internecine Fatah-Hamas violence, which made no demands of Hamas. Rice told reporters diplomatically that any new Palestinian government must meet international conditions but the US was committed to working with Abbas and would wait until a new government is formed and deal with it on the basis of whether or not it meets the Quartet principles. She suggested that Washington could deal with him separately from the new government. DEBKAfile adds: As long as the Hamas-dominated Palestinian administration refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, the Israeli and US governments are committed to the Western boycott and freeze on aid. At the same time, Palestinian leaders are unlikely to relent because they have a Saudi guarantee to step in and provide them with $1bn per annum to substitute for withheld Western assistance. Hence the dispute which has frustrated the Rice mission. Secretary Rice reportedly commented to a Palestinian reporter, “because of the Mecca Accords, it had become unlikely that the US could support Palestinian Statehood before President Bush leaves office in 2 years.
Secretary Rice Leads Pointless Jerusalem Summit
Feb. 19….(JNEWSWIRE) It was originally billed as a major push to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the "Palestinians," but Monday's three-way summit in Jerusalem ended up being a pointless gathering of incompatible agendas. The meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice only last a couple of hours, and ended without a joint press conference. Following the talks, Rice appeared alone before reporters to issue a brief statement about how both sides had reaffirmed their commitment to a "two-state solution" and had agreed to meet again under her auspices. She did not take any questions. Going into the meeting, Israeli officials said their expectations had been severely downgraded after Abbas indicated in a one-on-one session with Rice over the weekend that the new "Palestinian" unity government would not officially recognize Israel's right to exist. Rice told reporters after Monday's summit that the PLO chief had agreed that "a Palestinian state cannot be born of violence and terror," but his unwillingness to demand compliance from his Hamas governing partners called into question Abbas' own truthfulness on the matter. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Sunday admitted that there is no evidence the new "Palestinian" unity government is ever going to comply with international demands that it recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce terrorism. Speaking to reporters after what was described as a "hard" meeting with PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas, Rice said: "I haven't seen anything to date to suggest this is a government that meets the international peace principles." Nevertheless, Rice forged ahead with implementing the Bush administration's policy of severing Israel's biblical heartland and handing it over to this terrorist entity in the name of "peace." She said that despite the positions of his terrorist governing partners, Washington will not cut ties with Abbas.
Iran and Syria Stress Common Ties Amid Rumors
Feb. 19….(AP) Syria's President Bashar Assad accused the "enemies" of Islamic countries of trying to sow discord, Iranian state television's Web site reported Sunday after the Syrian leader ended his State visit to Iran.
Assad's visit, his fifth since taking office in 2000, comes at a time when some Arab diplomats have said Syria feels betrayed by Iran because of a joint Iranian-Saudi Arabian effort to clamp down on sectarian tensions in Iraq and violence in Lebanon. Syria has largely alienated many of its traditional Arab allies but has had close ties to Iran for years. Arab observers have said there are also newfound tensions between majority Shiite Iran and majority Sunni Syria over their differing interests in Iraq. "The creation of a rift among Muslims is their latest weapon, which is more dangerous than their previous plans," the state television site quoted Assad as saying. The site did not elaborate on who those "enemies" might be, but during his two-day trip the Syrian president also accused the US and Israel of having "ominous aims." Assad, who is a member of the ruling Syrian Alawite sect that is an offshoot of Shiite Islam, met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. Ahmadinejad described Assad's visit as fruitful and called for greater cooperation between their countries. "Current situations in the region, especially in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan, have doubled the need for cooperation and coordination between Iran and Syria, particularly to confront plots by enemies," state television's Web site reported him as saying. The US has accused Syria of not doing enough to prevent militants from crossing its border into Iraq and has blamed Iran for supporting Shiite militias in attacks that have killed American troops. US officials also accuse Iran and Syria of interfering in Lebanon and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through supporting Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which the US considers terrorist groups.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 12 THROUGH FEBRUARY 18
The Hypocrisy of the Party of God (Hezbollah)
Feb. 16….(FOJ) Iranian backed Islamic Shiite and Hezbollah (Arabic for the party of God) leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks to thousands of supporters in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon Friday, Feb. 16, 2007 where he vowed that Hezbollah’s campaign to force Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to cede power or step down will continue, and said he was confident of eventual triumph. Notice that the Islamic leader stands between the customary intimidating looking robust bodyguards with a picture of Hezbollah’s symbol of an elevated Russian AK-47 assault rifle. It is obvious from the symbols that these Islamic fundamentalist warmongers use for their icons and images that the religion they practice is not a religion of peace. They are not freedom fighters, but outright terrorists, hell bent on carrying out their inbred hatred against Israel, and idea of Christian support for the Biblical concept of Zionism. Should any Christian organization utilize such symbols as an assault rifle for their mission, or deploy thugs at public sermons, the world would immediately point out the hypocrisy of such a display. These characteristics are exactly opposite from what the loving God of Christianity teaches. In fact, Jesus admonished his Jewish followers for such violence.
Matthew 26:51-52 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Hamas and Fatah Collaborate Together to Govern Palestine
Feb. 16….(AP) Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday he hopes to form a new coalition government with Fatah moderates in less than three weeks, despite unresolved internal disputes and a reported warning of a US boycott. In quick succession Thursday, Haniyeh and his government resigned and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah appointed him to form the new team, based on last week's agreement in the Muslim holy city of Mecca to split power between the two rivals. Haniyeh has five weeks to put together a new Cabinet. During that period, Hamas and Fatah need to resolve deep disputes over control of the security forces and whether to dismantle a separate Hamas militia. The new government's political program falls short of a key condition by the international community, explicit recognition of Israel. Hamas is considered a terror group by the US. Abbas aides said Thursday that US officials made it clear that Washington would boycott the emerging Palestinian government, including independent and Fatah Cabinet ministers. Abbas, elected separately, would not be included in such a boycott, the aides said. Rice spoke ahead of a trip to the Middle East for a three-way summit with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday. Initially billed as a step toward resuming peace talks, frozen for more than six years, the summit will now likely be overshadowed by the disagreements over the Palestinian government. The Palestinians also hope Saudi Arabia, a US ally, will help in thawing America’s resolve against the Hamas participation in the PA. Saudi Arabia brokered the Mecca power-sharing deal that formed the basis for the Hamas-Fatah coalition talks.
Pakistan Pushing for Middle East Peace Summit
(Says Israel is to blame for regions problems)
Feb. 16….(Gulf News) Pakistan will host a meeting of foreign ministers from Muslim countries "very soon" as part of efforts to help resolve the Palestinian issue, President Pervez Musharraf said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said a summit was likely and it could be hosted by Saudi Arabia, adding that the ministerial meeting in Islamabad was expected in March to prepare the ground for a summit. Musharraf said the Palestinian issue needed to be addressed and resolved urgently and it required special attention and efforts from the Muslim Ummah and the world. Besides the Palestine issue, there was also the need to take measures to resolve the conflict in Lebanon and reduce tension between US and Iran, Musharraf said. Stressing the “urgent” need for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, Pakistan told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that President Pervez Musharraf had recently visited several Islamic countries in a bid to move the Middle East peace process forward. “A core group of Muslim countries has been constituted to evolve a comprehensive approach to the multiple crises besieging the Middle East, including providing fresh impetus to resolving the longstanding Arab-Israeli conflict,” Pakistan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Farukh Amil told the15-member council. He spoke in the council after a briefing by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Alvarode Soto, who said that positive factors such as a new Palestinian unity government and the first political talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in six years have the potential to help restore calm and re-energize efforts to achieve the two-state solution. Referring to President Musharraf’s trip, the Pakistan delegate said he shared his initiative with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, where it has found “general support and understanding”. Farukh Amil hoped that a group of leading Muslim countries will soon meet at a high-level to bring their collective weight to bear towards a just and fair solution to the Palestinian question and other problems afflicting the Middle East. He called on the Security Council to “actively support” those efforts. The Pakistan delegate said the hope that had emerged from the respite in violence brought about by the ceasefire in Gaza had been short-lived when, yet again, the region had been plunged into despair by Israeli actions in and around the Al-Haram al-Sharif compound. Although media reports claimed that the controversial construction work near the Al-Aqsa Mosque would be put off to allow public consultations, preparatory excavations continued, much to the anguish of Muslims the world over, he said. Those actions were illegal and “play with the emotions of the Muslim world”. They also threatened peace and security in the region. Since 1968, Farukh Amil said, the Security Council had adopted 16 resolutions repeatedly declaring that measures and arrangements taken by Israel aimed at changing the legal status, demographic composition and character of Jerusalem, Al-Quds al-Sharif were null and void and without any legal validity whatsoever. Those acts undermined international efforts to resume the peace process and they prejudiced the final status talks by creating new realities on the ground. The Pakistan delegate called on the council to take urgent action to end the Israeli violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and put pressure on Israel to respect the council’s resolutions and international law, particularly international humanitarian law. He also strongly urged the Israeli side to halt all work at the site and to take all necessary precautions to preserve the holy places. Pakistan said that Israeli actions posed new obstacles to peace, while the Muslim worldwas sincerely engaged in promoting peace in Palestine and the Middle East, with the active intercession of Saudi King Abdullah. The council and the Quartet should welcome the latest development that a Palestinian unity government was willing to negotiate peace with Israel. That should lead to an end of the economic boycott and to concerted efforts to ensure the stability of the Palestinian Authority. That should also enhance its capacity to preserve peace and promote development. Farukh Amil said the Israeli-Palestine issue was at the heart of the multiple challenges confronting the region. A comprehensive, just and lasting solution based on relevant council resolutions, the land-for-peace principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map is urgently needed for the whole Middle East.
Eastern Giants Meet to Counter US Power
Feb. 15….(Times Online) India, China and Russia account for 40 per cent of the world’s population, a fifth of its economy and more than half of its nuclear warheads. Now they appear to be forming a partnership to challenge the US-dominated world order that has prevailed since the end of the Cold War. Foreign ministers from the three emerging giants met in Delhi yesterday to discuss ways to build a more democratic “multipolar world”. It was the second such meeting in the past two years and came after an unprecedented meeting between their respective leaders, Manmohan Singh, Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin, during the G8 summit in St Petersburg in July. It also came only four days after Mr. Putin stunned Western officials by railing against American foreign policy at a security conference in Munich. The foreign ministers, Pranab Mukherjee, Li Zhao Xing and Sergei Lavrov, emphasized that theirs was not an alliance against the United States. It was, “on the contrary, intended to promote international harmony and understanding”, a joint communiqué stated. Their formal agenda covered issues ranging from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Korea to energy security, nuclear non-proliferation and trade. The subtext, however, was clear: how to use their growing economic and political muscle to prevent Washington from tackling such issues alone. “In the long term, they feel that the whole structure of international relations has to shift in their direction,” said Vinod C. Khanna, of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi. “What has happened is that quite independently they’ve reacted very similarly to recent international events.” Mukherjee said: “We agreed that cooperation rather than confrontation should govern approaches to regional and global affairs. We also agreed on the importance of the UN.” Diplomats say that it is premature to talk of a strategic axis between the world’s largest and two most populous nations because they still have more in common with the West than with each other. Delhi was close to Moscow in Soviet times, but has forged a new friendship with Washington. Chinese relations were soured by its border wars with India in 1962 and the Soviet Union in 1969, and by its arms sales to Pakistan. Russia appears keener than China or India to challenge American hegemony. But there has been a convergence of interests as each struggle to make the transition from a command economy to free markets. Since 2003 they have found further common ground in opposing the US-led invasion of Iraq. One area of agreement is opposition to outside interference in separatist conflicts in Chechnya, the northeast of India and the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang. Another is energy. India and China are desperate for Russian oil and gas, and Moscow is worried about its dependence on Western markets. But their most significant common ground is opposition to US military intervention in Iran. The joint statement did not mention Iran, but the three countries have taken a common stance in calling for a negotiated solution through the International Atomic Energy Agency. None of them wants a nuclear-armed Iran, but Russia sells Tehran nuclear technology and India and China need Iranian gas.
FOJ Note: Could these three Eastern and Northern nations be the 3 kingdoms that are subdued by the eventual Antichrist? It is an interesting building scenario that seems more and more plausible. Many prophecy scholars point to the EU membership for this culmination, but since Magog and Kings of the East come against the Western-Antichrist, these 3 power centers merit watching. (Daniel 7:24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.)
Suicide Bombers Cannot Be Freedom Fighters (Just Cause, Just Means)
Feb. 15….(Washington Times/Louis Beres) Whether they are operating in Iraq or in Israel or anywhere else, suicide bombers can never be considered "freedom fighters." From the standpoint of binding international law, there is simply no cause on this long-bloodied planet that can ever warrant the intentional mutilation and murder of civilians. By even the unwritten and merely customary standards of civilized human behavior, these actions are always criminal. Supporters of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens claim that the insurgent force is directed against an "occupation," and thus warrants "any means necessary." In law, this claim is baseless and incorrect. Even where the use of insurgent force may be justified, and this is certainly not the case with Palestinian terrorism, deliberate attacks upon noncombatants are always illegal. There is no more sacred principle of law and justice than the imperative to protect the innocent. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Although repeated often as if it were an expression of revealed wisdom, this contrived mantra has no grounding in law. The argument here is not a matter of subjective interpretation. On the contrary, there do exist very precise and settled criteria that distinguish the terrorist from the freedom fighter. According to international law, any insurgent who willfully causes the explosive incineration of men, women and children at lunch or at prayer or at a wedding ceremony or on a bus or at a shopping mall or at a bakery is a terrorist. Certain insurgencies can be judged lawful. Yet, even these insurgencies must conform to the laws of war. In law, the ends can never justify the means. Wherever an insurgent group resorts to unjust means, as in the recent case of a blown-up family bakery in Israel, its actions are unpardonable. How shall we judge precisely when insurgent force is just or unjust? The determinable standards that must be applied are known in law as just cause and just means. These two standards, and these two standards alone, allow us to differentiate lawful insurgency from terrorism. National liberation movements that fail to meet the test of just means are not protected as legitimate. Leaving aside the unsupportable argument that Palestinian organizations satisfy the legal standards of "national liberation," it is abundantly clear that they do not meet the just means standards of discrimination, proportionality and military necessity. These formal criteria, long applicable under the Laws of War, have been applied to all insurgent organizations by the common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and by the two protocols to these Conventions of 1977. They are now directly binding upon all combatants by virtue of both customary and conventional international law, and by "the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations." Under law, the ends can never justify the means. As in the case of war between states, every use of force by insurgents must be judged twice, once with regard to the justness of the objective (the avowed Hamas/Palestinian Authority objective is a Palestinian state built upon the ruins of Israel) and once with regard to the justness of the adopted means. Neither a Palestinian organization nor an Iraqi militia that deliberately targets civilians with expressed intent to maximize pain and suffering can ever claim to be "freedom fighters." Ironically, as it continues with its present "surge" in Iraq, the Bush administration still supports the idea of a "Road Map" to peace in the Middle East. All American and European supporters of a Palestinian state presume that it will be part of a "two-state solution." These smug supporters of Oslo-redux argue that the new Arab state will exist side-by-side with the existing Jewish state. Yet, this curious presumption is dismissed everywhere in the Arab-Islamic world. Terrorist crimes, as part of a broader category of harms called crimen contra omnes (crimes against all), mandate universal cooperation in apprehension and punishment. As punishers of "grave breaches" under international law, all states are expected to search out and prosecute, or extradite, individual terrorist perpetrators. In no circumstances are any states permitted to characterize terrorists as "freedom fighters." This prohibition is especially pertinent for the United States, which incorporates all international law as the "supreme law of the land" at Article 6 of the Constitution, and which was explicitly formed by the Founding Fathers according to the timeless and universal principles of natural law. Palestinian and Iraqi terrorists are not "freedom fighters." They are "common enemies of mankind" who exceed all moral and legal authority in their persistently cruel attacks. Until July 7, 2005, British newspapers had always referred to such murderers as "militants," but when the al Qaeda allies of Islamic Jihad and Hamas launched suicide attacks in London the media in Great Britain abruptly changed their vocabulary. Once the victims were Londoners, the perpetrators quickly became "terrorists." No one peoples' blood is redder than another's. Under law, those who deliberately target innocents are never "freedom fighters." Isn't it time, therefore, to finally recognize this simple understanding?
Saudis Have Purchased Their Nuclear Option
(Buy advanced missiles and spy satellites off the shelf from Pakistan and Russia)
Feb. 15….(DEBKA) Moscow will assist in Saudi development of a civilian nuclear program and build six “research satellites” for the oil kingdom. DEBKAfile’s Gulf intelligence sources report this was agreed in the talks held in Riyadh earlier this week by visiting Russian president Vladimir Putin and King Abdullah. Israeli military sources report that Moscow in fact undertook to provide Saudi Arabia with half a dozen military surveillance satellites, launch them and set up ground control centers, thereby making the oil kingdom the first Middle East national with a multiple spy satellite capability for tracking the military movements of its neighbors, including Iran and Israel. This Saudi-Russian venture has got Israel worried because it will enable Riyadh to pick up highly sensitive intelligence on its military movements and relay it to Egypt and the Palestinians.
This development confirms previous disclosures that the Saudis do not intend wasting time developing their own military capabilities but are going shopping for finished products. On Jan. 21, Saudi rulers favored visiting Pakistani president Gen. Pervez Musharraf with exception honors when he arrived at the outset of a tour of five Arab capitals. King Abdullah personally welcomed the visitor and drove him in the royal convoy to a palace outside the capital where they were closeted alone for three hours. The king also conferred on the Pakistani ruler the King Abdul Aziz Award. This ceremonial led up to an epic accord of 7 secret clauses on the terms in which Pakistan would make nuclear weapons available to, and sell, Saudi Arabia nuclear-capable missiles. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources revealed that Musharraf undertook to make them available in the event of a nuclear emergency facing Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates, Egypt or Jordan. A mechanism was thus set up for Saudi Arabia to potentially beat Iran to the draw in acquiring a nuclear bomb, as well as controlling the security of its allies.
US to Shun all Members of Palestinian Unity Govt
Feb. 15….(AP) The United States will boycott all Palestinian unity government ministers, including non-Hamas members, unless international demands on policy toward Israel are met, a Palestinian official and diplomats said on Thursday. Some US officials had been advocating a shift in Washington's position that would allow limited diplomatic contacts with cabinet ministers from moderate President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and other parties. But a senior Palestinian official said: "The Americans have informed us that they will be boycotting the new government headed by Hamas. The Fatah and independent ministers will be treated the same way that Hamas ministers are treated." Diplomats familiar with discussions on the issue confirmed Washington's intention to shun members of the unity government unless it satisfied international calls for Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept interim peace accords. US contacts with Abbas would not be affected although diplomatic sources said relations have been strained by his power-sharing deal with Hamas Islamists, a pact that fell short of meeting the demands for the policy changes. US officials declined to comment and said Washington was waiting to see how a new government would shape up. Abbas will attend a summit on Monday with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. A ban on direct Western financial assistance since Hamas came to power in March has pushed the Palestinian Authority to the brink of financial collapse. Complicating matters for any incoming government, top Palestinian bank officials said they would not resume transfers to the government without assurances from the United States. Western diplomats said they doubted such assurances would be forthcoming. Regional and international banks have refused to transfer funds to the Hamas-led government since March for fear of running foul of US sanctions. Funds have been permitted to go through Abbas's office. "We are waiting to see if the US will approve the unity government. Nobody is going to jeopardize long-term contacts with the West. It (US authorization) has to be very clear," said the head of a major Palestinian bank.
Confronting Putin's Anti-US Crusade
Feb. 15…..(by Ariel Cohen) The cold shower that Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed on the United States at the international security conference in Munich last weekend should not have come as a surprise. After all, Putin himself and a host of other senior spokesmen, including Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov (one of the "official" heirs-apparent) and military Chief of Staff General Yuri Baluevsky, have said as much in the past. The list of grievances that Putin lodged against the United States and the West is long. The main complaint is that the American "hyper power" is pursuing its own unilateral foreign, defense, cultural and economic policy, disregarding international law, and ignoring the UN (where Russia has a veto). French President Jacques Chirac would be proud. However, Russia takes its opposition much further. Putin accused the US of expanding NATO to Russia's borders and deploying "five thousand bayonets" each in forward bases in Romania and Bulgaria. He blasted the plans for US missile defense bases in Central Europe, possibly in Poland or the Czech Republic, mocking the stated goal of such installations as defenses against missile launches from Iran or North Korea. Putin clearly stated that the missile defenses are aimed to neutralize Russian retaliatory nuclear strike capability, a destabilizing factor in the Russian nuclear playbook. He further accused Washington of not meeting its obligations on nuclear disarmament treaties and trying to hide hundreds of nuclear weapons in warehouses, "under the blanket and under the pillow." Adding to the rhetorical overkill, Putin blamed US policies for the failure of nuclear non-proliferation, implying justification for North Korean and Iranian efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Putin lambasted NATO members that refuse to ratify the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty; criticized the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for democracy promotion; warned against Kosovo's independence; and rejected Western criticisms of Russia's track record in human rights. Putin waxed nostalgic about the bi-polar world in which the US and the USSR checked each other's ambition through a balance of nuclear terror known as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Many Russian and Western experts perceive Putin's speech as a declaration of a new Cold War. Putin's speech has a number of domestic and international "drivers," which add up to a picture of Russia craving strategic parity with the United States and defining its national identity in opposition to the West. The rule of law in Russia is a far cry from Western standards. Several years of increasingly loud anti-American and anti-Western propaganda in pro-government and nationalist media have nurtured a generation of Russians who are ethno-centric, and reject liberal values. Some 60 percent in a recent poll supported the slogan "Russia for Russians." Sustained nationalist and anti-American brainwashing bridged the gap between the Soviet superpower chauvinism and the new Russian assertiveness, fueled by massive oil revenues and nationalism. The "America-as-the-enemy" construct bolsters the legitimacy of the current regime, headed largely by former KGB officers, as the defender of Mother Russia. It rejects fully integrating Russia into the global economic and political community, as the other official "heir-apparent," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, suggested in his January 2007 speech at the Davos World Economic Forum. Russia is planning to spend $189 billion in the next five years for a rapid military modernization. Announced on February 8 by Defense Minister Ivanov, the program includes new nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, a fleet of TU-160 supersonic strategic bombers, and development of a fifth-generation fighter jet. Such a program is clearly aimed at balancing US military power, not fighting terrorists in the Caucasus mountains. Russia needs the US as "glavny protivnik," the principal adversary. Russia is also trying to corner the market in weapons sales, especially to rogue and semi-rogue states. Russia is the largest arms supplier to China and Iran; it signed a $3 billion arms deal with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela over US objections, and is courting Middle Eastern buyers. Russia is happy to play into the Arab and Muslim street's anti-Americanism and to signal that the US, which is facing severe difficulties in Iraq, does not exercise exclusive strategic dominance in the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East. Moscow is back, with a vengeance, in the most important energy depot of the world. It is no accident that the speech was delivered on the eve of Putin's historic visit to Saudi Arabia, the first for any Russian or Soviet leader, and to Qatar and Jordan, America's allies in the Middle East.
From Washington's perspective, the timing of Putin's speech couldn' t be worse. With Iraq in limbo, and Iran remaining truculent, the chances for Russian cooperation in taming Teheran' s nuclear ambitions are dwindling. Russia was recalcitrant in providing necessary pressure on Iran during the December 2006 negotiations on UN Security Council Resolution 1737, and may refuse to do so when the Security Council revisits the Iranian dossier in a few weeks. Moreover, Putin is signaling that Russia is willing to be the vanguard of the anti-American camp in Europe and the Middle East, and from Caracas to Beijing. Russia is putting not just military might behind its rhetoric, but economic muscle as well: Putin publicly approved of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's idea of creating an OPEC-style cartel for natural gas. Whether such a coalition materializes, and whether it might translate itself into a military alliance, remains to be seen.
Will You Give This to My Daddy?
Feb. 14….(FOJ) Last week I was in Atlanta , Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest act's of patriotism I have ever seen. Moving thru the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camo's, as they began heading to their gate everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families. Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal. Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said "hi," the little girl then she asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her. The young soldier, he didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek. The mother of the little girl, who said her daughters name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter, Courtney, missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up. When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it. After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, "I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you." He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying "your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon." The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event unfolded. As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness, turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek. We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's good to be an American. Americans who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority". We needn’t be silent any longer, and we should be voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is...We need your support and your prayers. Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, and by praying for them, and f or our country!
Magog is Already Eyeballing the Promised Land
Feb. 14….(FOJ) Many ancient sources have clearly identified "Magog" as referring to the ancient "Scythians" which were the ancestors of the Russian nation. The Moslems even referred to Gog and Magog as Vadjudj wa madjudj in the Koran. The Great Wall of China, in an 8th century reference, was called: Sud Yagog et Magog, or "The Rampart of Gog and Magog." It has been said that the only prophecy in the Bible that invokes a modern Gentile power by literal name is found in Ezekiel 38 and 39. There, we find Russia, called "Rosh" in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. In the King James translation, its name is somewhat obscured, but is clearly seen in the word, "chief “ (rahsh) in the following passage: "And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, "Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, "And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal" (Ezkiel 38:1-3). The Hebrew text of verse two, which actually reads, "prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal," [kc,u lan atr thab nasieh rosh, meshech v’tubal]. "Rosh" is therefore a place name, rather than a positional title. Today, any standard Hebrew text refers to Russia by using the proper noun, "Rosh." Many authorities add that Meshech and Tubal are the names of Scythian tribes, whose names have been standardized as modern place names. Meshech is Russia’s capital, Moscow. Therefore, Magog is modern Russia. Its prince and leader is Gog. Russia is today, as in the Cold War era is exerting its power into the Middle East. President Putin has characterized himself as a devout Christian, (as President Bush asserted) but Mr. Putin is clearly steering Russia in a direction that the prophet Ezekiel detailed. Russia is arming every rogue regime in the Middle East, including Iran, Syria, and even Hamas. This week Mr. Putin has made a whirlwind tour of the so-called US allies in the region (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, etc) and is making overtures about the structuring of an energy cartel, and pledging to work towards a Final Status round of Peace Roadmap negotiations concerning the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict over the disputed territory that comprises mush of the Promised Land.
Russia is actively guarding its clients in the Middle East, and making strategic geo-political moves to counter the US presence in the region. Mr. Putin has characterized the US as a regional bully, and is clearly preparing Russia for a future war in the region against US and or Western interests. This is precisely what the Bible declares for Russia in the Latter Days. (Ezekiel 38:7-8 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them. After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.)
Israel is On Its Own With Iran
Feb. 14….(IsraelNN.com) Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Russian immigrant party Yisrael Beiteinu said that the Jewish State will not be able to depend on the international community to protect Israel from the Iranian threat. The Strategic Affairs Minister said bluntly that the world will not defend Israel against a nuclear Iran. “We will have to face the Iranians alone, Lieberman said in an interview broadcast on Israel Radio. Israel cannot remain with its arms folded, waiting patiently for Iran to develop non-conventional weapons.”
European Union Admits Diplomacy Is Ineffective
An internal European Union report leaked to the media this week documented that diplomatic interventions have been ineffective and probably will continue to be so. “In practice, the Iranians have pursued their program at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the United Nations or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “The problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone,” read the report. The EU report noted that “At some point we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons program.” Nonetheless, EU sources hurried to deny that it was “despairing of a negotiated solution.” A senior diplomat complained to the Reuters news agency, “What we don’t like is the implication that sanctions are not going to work and that we are therefore contemplating military action.” Until now, the UN has imposed sanctions which ban the transfer of nuclear technology to the Islamic Republic. Lieberman criticized the EU report. “Any surrender to Iran can only encourage the aggressiveness and unbridled aspirations of this country, which wants to foist its power on the Middle East,” he said pointedly.
Continued UN Opposition to Stronger Measures
The French Foreign Ministry has strongly opposed a military response to the growing nuclear threat from Iran despite its continued defiance of a UN Security Council mandate to end uranium enrichment activities. “We have faith in diplomacy and believe a united international community can convince Iran to retreat, whether through diplomacy or sanctions,” said French Ambassador to Israel, Jean-Michel Casa. Although Casa reiterated his country’s stance that “we will absolutely not accept a situation in which Iran becomes a nuclear power,” he offered no alternatives to the measures which have proved ineffective. Moreover, France is still offering to “assist Iran’s civilian nuclear program under tight international supervision, on condition that they abandon their uranium enrichment program and any military program.” Russia has been equally adamant in limiting sanctions against the Islamic Republic, expressing its support two weeks ago for an initiative to offer a “time out” proposal to hold off sanctions. The International Atomic Agency suggested at the time that the United Nations delay its plan to impose the sanctions. Although the United States has urged the UN for the past year to impose heavy sanctions against Iran in an effort to stop the Iranians, it too has offered little else. US President George W. Bush said in November 2006 he would "understand" if Israel attacked the Islamic Republic, but that America would not help the Jewish State to do so.
A New Threat From Iran
Iran has also been sharing its largess with terrorist organizations to the immediate north and south of Israel, Hizbullah and the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar met with the head of Iranian national security at approximately the same time the US announced its reluctance to step up the severity of its response to Iran’s nuclear activities. “Iran has handed out, until now, over $120 million and says it will supply more aid,” al-Zahar informed reporters in November 2006. “Its support is very important for us," he added. Iran has also been supplying Hizbullah with weapons and financial support. Iranian long-range missiles were fired by Hizbullah at the Jewish State during last summer’s war with Lebanon, and intelligence reports indicate that the Islamic Republic has already re-supplied the Lebanese terrorists. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has in turn repeatedly warned that Iran is building a nuclear weapon of mass destruction. He has pointed out in numerous speeches at various forums that this poses a threat not only to the Middle East, but in fact to the entire world. Israel has also warned the international community that Israel will not tolerate an existential threat from the Islamic Republic.
Putin Pushing Russia’s Agenda on Mideast Tour
Feb. 13….(AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to find quick success on a historic Mideast tour that saw the leader of energy-rich Russia forging oil diplomacy in Saudi Arabia and backing a natural gas cartel Monday with neighboring Qatar. Putin's Middle East tour comes as Washington's stature in the Gulf is slipping and Arab monarchies are busy boosting ties outside the region, particularly in Asia. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have welcomed Putin despite being traditional US allies. Putin and Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani announced they would explore the creation of a natural gas cartel to represent the interests of producer countries to influence the global market. "We do not reject the idea of creating a gas cartel," Putin said just hours after arriving in the tiny Gulf state after his two-day Saudi visit. "But this initiative requires more study." Putin also said he planned to host a Mideast peace conference but gave no details. European Union leaders have said they would stand against any effort by Russia to create a gas cartel, fearing energy prices, and Russia's political clout, could rise dramatically as a result. Europe gets 44 percent of its natural gas imports from Russia. Putin said he would send a team of experts to a natural gas conference being held in Doha in April, where they would discuss details of building a cartel resembling the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Qatar is an OPEC member but Russia is not. Russia and Qatar are two of the world's largest producers of natural gas, and tiny Qatar sits atop the world's single largest gas field. In January, gas-rich Iran said it favored forming a cartel with Russia. But at the time, the head of Russia's Security Council, Igor Ivanov, said there were no plans for a cartel, only "interest in gas producers coordinating their policies in the gas sphere." Sheik Hamad said he supported cartel talks but was unsure whether a gas cartel would be able to command OPEC-style control over gas contracts, which are typically arranged on terms as long as 25 years. In Riyadh on Monday, Putin said he had found "common ground" between Russia and Saudi Arabia, where Saudi and Russian business leaders appeared to strengthen investment and political ties. "Russia and Saudi Arabia are the world's leading energy producers and exporters and here it is easy for us to find common ground," Putin said in remarks in Saudi Arabia broadcast on Russian state television. Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia, represents a potential ally with considerable political strength as a member of the UN Security Council and the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace mediators. Connecticut-sized Qatar is home to a pair of large US military bases, one of which houses the US command post for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Qatari government also owns the Al-Jazeera TV network. Qatar Petroleum, the country's state-owned energy company, also signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia's OAO Lukoil, Sheik Hamad said without giving details. He said Russia and Qatar also discussed further ties in the field of energy, metallurgy, technology and science. Putin said Lukoil was ready to invest $2 billion in developing Saudi gas fields. Relations between Russia and Arab countries appear to be getting a boost from the souring of ties between Washington and much of the Arab world after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The friendship between Russia and the US has also been stressed by disagreements over an array of international issues including US criticism of Russia's record on democracy under Putin. Before his arrival in Saudi Arabia, Putin leveled his harshest criticism yet of the former Cold War foe, saying it had "overstepped its national borders in every way" and is fostering "a new global arms race." US Defense Secretary Robert Gates responded Sunday by saying "one Cold War is enough" and that he would go to Moscow to try to reduce tensions. Earlier Monday, Putin met with about 200 Saudi and Russian businessmen eager to expand ties. Saudi Arabian firms have been seeking deals in countries other than the United States because of the difficulty in getting visas following the Sept. 11 attacks. The hijackings were carried out by 19 Arabs, including 15 Saudis. Direct investment between Saudi and Russia remains low, but trade increased from $88.5 million in 1999 to $412 million in 2005. Putin was received Monday night in Jordan by its monarch, King Abdullah II. The Jordanian government has said it hoped that Russia would help restart Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. "Russia is an important member of the Quartet and a country that has every interest in seeing a revival of the peace process and a permanent peace settlement in the Middle East," said chief government spokesman Nasser Judeh, referring to the Mideast peace mediators, who also include the United States, Europe and the United Nations."
Is Olmert Preparing Israel for Golan Surrender?
Feb. 13….(JNEWSWIRE) Is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert trying to prepare Israelis for the surrender of the Golan Heights? On Monday, Olmert explained in detail to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the only thing that would buy Israel peace with Syria would be ceding the entire Golan. He expounded on the issue despite stating that he remains opposed to negotiations with Damascus at this time. For anyone who remembers the trial balloons Olmert floated back when surrendering the Gaza Strip was unthinkable to most, his latest comments are cause for great concern. Olmert is trying to get Israelis used to the notion that one day they will have to give up the strategic northern plateau that has kept them safe from Syrian aggression for so many decade. Imagine what would have happened in the 1973 Yom Kippur War if the Syrian Army hadn’t needed to cross an Israeli-controlled Golan to reach the rest of the country? What’s worse, Olmert is giving Damascus the green light to make Israel’s full and complete surrender of the Golan a non-negotiable demand. When in the future Damascus refuses to compromise on the issue, they can point to Olmert’s position as justification for their own. The Israelis have got to get this guy out of office before he causes further damage to Israel’s security and opens the door for the slaughter of many more of his countrymen.
Will North Korea be Made to Stick to The Deal
Feb. 13….(FOJ) The negotiation that yielded Tuesday's landmark agreement for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs now gives way to a more arduous phase: making sure the communist country keeps its promises. Secretive, belligerent and with a reputation for skirting past deals, North Korea makes a rough prospect for arms control inspectors, experts said. It allegedly set up a secret nuclear weapons program, even as it shut down a different program a decade ago and put it under UN inspection. Its mountainous terrain is pockmarked with tunnels and bunkers ideal for hiding bombs, materials and production lines. US technical crews visited a suspected North Korean underground nuclear site, once in 1999 and again in 2000, only to find a suspiciously empty tunnel complex. Under Tuesday's accord, North Korea committed to first shutting down Yongbyon, accounting for all its nuclear facilities and eventually dismantling them all. But though the Yongbyon reactor was put under International Atomic Energy Agency inspection as part of 1994 deal with the United States, the entire facility has never been opened for inspection. That deal unraveled after Washington accused Pyongyang in 2002 of running a parallel weapons project enriching uranium, a program the new agreement has assigned to a working group to resolve later. North Korea may have other undeclared and unknown facilities and materials, experts said. Ultimately there is the question of whether Kim Jong Il, dictator of an impoverished and politically isolated country, intends to relinquish his nuclear weapons. Jin Linbo, a North Korean watcher at China's Institute for International Studies, said North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan was quoted last December as telling South Korean and Japanese reporters, "Do you believe we developed and sustained our nuclear weapons programs for so long just to give them up?"
Russia Preparing for 'Wars of the Future'
(The Russian military embarks on an ambitious procurement plan to beef up conventional forces on the continent and maintain a nuclear force capable of overwhelming the US National Missile Defense.)
Feb. 13….(International Security Network) The Russian military will spend a total of some 5 trillion rubles (US$189 billion) between 2007-2015 to replace 45 percent of its current arsenal with new weaponry systems ranging from submarine-launched ballistic missiles to new aircraft carriers for deep-water missions, in what reflects the country's resurgence as a global player. According to an official statement, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told the federal parliament on 8 February that the new arms and rigorous training should prepare Russia's war machine for the future. "There are cardinal changes in what is going on in the world and the armed forces need to be prepared for wars of the future," according to the minister, who also holds the rank of deputy prime minister and is one of the possible contestants in the 2008 presidential race to succeed Mr. Putin. Russia's defense budget has been growing steadily thanks to economic growth fuelled by high oil prices and a consumer boom. As a result of the surge in federal budget revenues, the Defense Ministry quadrupled its budget from 214 billion rubles in 2001 to 821 billion this year. Experts say the Defense Ministry's shopping spree reflects the Kremlin's desire to transform the continuing economic resurgence into geopolitical dividends by beefing up conventional forces while maintaining the strategic nuclear forces' so-called assured destruction capability in order to flex muscles in the adjacent neighborhoods in the short-to-medium term and across the globe in the longer term. "The procurement plan demonstrates that Russia at least wants to acquire capability to project military-political influence at least on the regional level. Ivan Safranchuk, director of the Moscow office of the Washington, DC-based World Security Institute, concurred. The experts specifically pointed out that talk of procuring new aircraft carriers was one sign that Russia was seeking to expand its zone of influence. The decision to procure more could be made in 2009, the statement quoted Ivanov as saying. The Russian navy currently has one Soviet-era aircraft carrier and would have to build new ones from scratch since the sole maker of this ship in Soviet times is located in now-independent Ukraine. As part of the shopping spree, the military will procure a total of 31 ships for the navy in 2007-2015, according to Ivanov. The ministry will also procure new arms for 40 tanks, 97 infantry and 50 airborne battalions in line with the 2007-2017 programs, he said. in 2008 to procure arms, equipment and other items for all of the so-called power agencies. In his report, the minister also affirmed the Russian military's right for a preventive conventional strike and ruled out any new personnel cuts in the 1.1-million strong force. The minister also reported that Russia may adopt a new military doctrine several years from now, once a new national security document was crafted and reaffirmed plans to replace the existing military district with regional commands. The new doctrine is needed to formulate a response to expansion of the US presence in Russia's backyard, General Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces said in remarks posted on the Defense Ministry's web site on 9 February. The US military leadership's course aimed at maintaining its global leadership and expanding its economic, political and military presence in Russia's traditional zones of influence" has become a top threat for Russia's national security, Baluyevsky said. Among other things, Russia is building detection centers that would allow the military to detect incoming missiles on territory spanning from Western Europe to the North Pole. The stations are designed to fill in holes left in the Russian military's early warning capabilities by the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The "future wars" program also provides for procurement of at least 50 mobile versions of Topol-Ms as well as dozens of silo-based versions of this intercontinental ballistic missile. This year alone will see 17 ICBMs procured, the minister said. In addition to new Topol-M's ICBMs, the Russian military also is set to procure Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Russia's new military program comes as the US moves forward with plans to site missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, intentions that have put Russia on edge and which many believe prompted Moscow's very detailed release of its new defense program. While Washington claims the planned Polish and Czech installations are intended to defend against missiles fired by Iran or North Korea, Moscow claims that the real intention has more to do with Russia's nuclear arsenal. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov once again attacked the US missile defense shield on the sidelines on a security conference in Munich on 11 February.
The Mecca Accord : Implications for Arabs, Israel, and U.S. Policy
The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to US diplomacy.
Feb. 13….(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) It is apparent from a reading of the key Mecca documents that the Palestinian unity accord was only made possible by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's decision to compromise, not by concessions from Hamas. There are four possible explanations for Abbas's actions:
While each is possible, none, not even the most optimistic scenario, option number three, instills hope and confidence in Abbas's strategic vision and leadership skills. Hamas clearly emerges strengthened by the Mecca accord. Hamas received a huge political boost in the form of an embrace by both Abbas and the Saudi leadership. The main winner from the Mecca deal is Saudi Arabia. Whether or not the kingdom survives the vicissitudes of Palestinian politics, merely engineering the Hamas-Fatah accord shows that Riyadh could succeed in significant regional diplomacy where two other Arab powers, Cairo and Damascus could not. To a certain extent, the Saudis were default mediators: Hamas has consistently sought to embarrass Egypt, refusing to buckle under pressure to release abducted Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, whereas Abbas knew that striking a deal under Syrian auspices would add insult to American injury. Nevertheless, the Saudis will now bask in the glow of inter-Arab peacemaking. If Americans cry foul at Saudi efforts to legitimate Hamas, and so far, the Quartet (the United States, European Union, Russia, and the UN) has actually welcomed, not criticized, Saudi efforts, Riyadh will claim that its mediation prevented Iran from gaining deeper inroads among Palestinian radicals.
A second Arab winner in the Mecca deal is Syria. Palestinian political unity means that the chances have dimmed for diplomatic progress on the Palestinian track; Damascus will view this as a net positive, because it means there may be an opportunity to stoke interest in reviving the Syrian track. But if the past is prologue, the Syrians are not likely to take advantage of their own good fortune by making their offer to negotiate with Israel more attractive. Instead, Syrian president Bashar al-Asad is likely to keep issuing bellicose statements, delivering dangerous weapons to Hizballah, or extending operational aid to some radical terrorist organization, that makes it impossible for the Israeli government to consider this option.
In Israel, the political echelon seems to be unsure of its response to the Mecca accord. At his weekly cabinet meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government "neither accepts nor rejects" the accord, which seemed not to keep pace with the fact that some key governments, such as France and Russia, had already reacted positively to the idea of including Hamas in regional diplomacy. In essence, Israel finds itself being squeezed to death.
The Mecca accord presents the United States with more serious dilemmas than any other party. At the two ends of the spectrum, Washington's options are as follows:
1. to declare that Mecca has erased any distinction between moderate and radical in the Palestinian camp, suspend all efforts at direct assistance to Abbas, and curtail efforts to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian "political horizon."
2. to consider Mecca a purely internal, and quite insignificant, intra-Palestinian affair that has no bearing either on existing international conditions for a renewal of aid to the PA, which still stand, or on diplomatic efforts to pursue Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, which would go forward.
In other words, the United States could behave as if the Mecca accord were irrelevant. The Bush administration is unlikely to want to pursue either route to its logical conclusion. It would prefer not to take a public position against Palestinian unity, even if such unity comes at the price of progress toward peace. Yet it surely realizes that, with Mecca, the sun has set on the pursuit of a "political horizon." To complicate matters even further, this setback to one key initiative advanced by the administration comes at a time when another key US-backed initiative, UN Security Council Resolution 1701, the Lebanon ceasefire accord, is under pressure as well. Here, the problem is repeated reports of substantial efforts by Syria to transfer weapons to Hizballah in direct contravention of the resolution. Since both Israelis and Saudis say they are keen to prevent the spread of Iranian influence in the Levant, the two sides would seem to have much to talk about, not least of which is a practical implementation plan for the eventual all-Arab recognition of Israel, the cornerstone of the Saudi peace initiative. This would, in essence, be the negotiation of an Arab Roadmap that would complement the existing Quartet Roadmap. While the United States welcomes Sunni Arab cooperation to counter rising Iranian influence, it cannot countenance the legitimization of an unreformed extremist organization like Hamas. It might have been a close call if Hamas had grudgingly uttered a formula close to the Quartet's conditions, but Hamas won the brass ring without having to compromise. In this regard, and in the absence of some other attractive regional option to occupy diplomacy, US policy should reconsider the original intent of President Bush's landmark 2002 Rose Garden address, delivered with then-National Security Advisor Rice at his side: "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions, and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East."
Research: God Literally Did Speak World into Existence
(Student's scientific documentation offers evidence of biblical account)
Feb. 12….(WND) A science student in Kentucky says when the Bible records God spoke, and things were created, that's just what happened, and he can support that with scientific experiments. "If God spoke everything into existence as the Genesis record proposes, then we should be able to scientifically prove that the construction of everything in the universe begins with: a) the Holy Spirit (magnetic field); b) Light (an electric field); and c) that Light can be created by a sonic influence or sound," Samuel J. Hunt writes There are several documented and currently taught laboratory experiments that accurately portray the events in Genesis in sequential order, the most important being that of sonoluminescence," he wrote. That, he described to WND, is the circumstance in which sending a sonic signal into bubbles in a fluid causes the bubbles to collapse and they release photons, or create light. That aligns with one of the earlier descriptions of the creation by God, when, in Genesis 1:1-3, the Holy Spirit moved upon the face of the deep, which generally is considered water, and said "Let there be light," he explained. God was sending a sonic influence into the waters, and basically creating light, Hunt said. He's documented his theory, and the experiments he believes back it up, in his "Episteme Scientia, the Law of All That Is." Researchers at institutions no less than UCLA and the University of Chicago have verified the production of light from bubbles when sound is passed through a liquid, called sonoluminescence. Hunt said he was spurred on in his work because the advanced physics and other courses he was taking were advancing propositions that sometimes didn't match up. "The further I went, the more my questions seemed to be being answered in the Genesis record," he told WND. His abstract states, "An examination of the sequential mathematical and experimental dual proof of the Genesis record of origins underlying the institution of all that is in the universe – from waves to matter to the mind." Hunt said science has been proving the Genesis account in classrooms for centuries, "in spite of the fervency to promote evolution and big bang theories." A student at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Hunt said his questions started very simply. "I asked my professors in physics and chemistry, 'What if I could scientifically prove that all matter was spoken into existence and that all matter could be manipulated by sound just as Genesis says? Wouldn't that mean God exists and created the universe?" he asked. "Nobody's ever done that before," was the response. His 84-page treatise, now published, addresses that, he said. Hunt said he believes every event in Genesis can be observed to be happening daily. "Either you experience a universe of chaos or a universe of order and processes that produce immediate and calculable results," he wrote. "The results of my research support and prove that everything that exists was spoken into existence from waves to matter to mind." "My professors think my application of accepted laws and theories may bend the rules a bit, but the ideas are thought-provoking and progressive," he said. The website describes the integration of several mathematical systems including "Phi, Pi, L-systems, Penrose tiling, and an all-encompassing Koch curve." The outline, available at scienceprovescreation.com, already has sold more than 1,700 copies. Hunt said his goal was to be able to provide experiments that would explain the Genesis creation story, in the order the Bible records events happened. "Some of my teachers are like, 'That's complete hogwash,'" he said, "while others say, 'That's pretty interesting.'" His goal is to bring a unity to the Christian community, "just like the founders of our nation expected and wanted from the Constitution." The documentation of his processes, Hunt believes, could end debate. "People want to know the truth, to have something to stand on that's not trickery and deceit," he said. "This gives people something real to touch, hang on to."
Abbas Demands Israel Accept New Unified Terrorist Government
Feb. 12….(FOJ) Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday demanded that Israel officially accept a power-sharing government he forged with the Hamas terrorist organization last week in Mecca. That despite the fact that the unity deal does not obligate Hamas or any other member of the government to recognize Israel's right to exist or renounce the use of terrorist violence against the Jewish state. Abbas insited the make-up and policies of the PA government are an internal "Palestinian" matter that Israel has no business bothering about, even if it means more Jews will die.
Putin 1st Russian Leader to Visit Saudi Arabia
Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, said last week Russia hopes to win a Saudi order for tanks. In an interview with the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass before the visit, Abdullah said the meetings will advance cooperation and understanding. "Both countries enjoy great economic capabilities, good natural resources, numerous investment opportunities and a distinct cultural heritage," Abdullah was quoted as saying. In 2004, Saudi Arabia awarded Lukoil Holdings, Russia's biggest integrated oil company, the rights to explore and produce natural gas in an area known as "Zone A," located near Ghawar, the world's largest oil field. Abdulaziz Sager, a Saudi who is the chairman of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, wrote in the Saudi paper Arab News that while commercial interests lie at the heart of Russia's renewed interest in the Gulf, two strategic factors guide its approach to the region. "First, Russia's slow but sure re-emergence as a great power makes it necessary for Moscow to showcase its clout," wrote Sager. "And second, the concern that the Middle East security scenario and its spin-off could hurt the Caucasus and Central Asia, and perhaps Russia too." Putin's visit to Saudi Arabia comes a day after he leveled his harshest criticism yet of the US government, saying it "has overstepped its national borders in every way" and is fostering a new global arms race. Relations between the former Cold War foes have been strained by disagreements over an array of international issues including US criticism of Russia's record on democracy under Putin. Putin is the highest-level Russian official to ever visit Saudi Arabia from Moscow. The two countries had full diplomatic relations until 1938, when dictator Josef Stalin closed his embassy in Saudi Arabia to save money. Muslims make up about 20 million of Russia's 145 million population. In September 1990, the Soviet Union and the kingdom restored diplomatic relations at the height of tensions in the Gulf from Iraq's August 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait. A US-led coalition evicted the Iraqi army, ending a seven-month occupation.
Temple's Location Found, Claims Israeli Archaeologist
(Study of ancient cisterns pinpoints sacred site, Muslim Dome of the Rock outside confines)
Feb. 12….(YNET) Using maps created in 1866 by a British explorer and passages from the Jewish Mishnah, an Israeli archaeologist and professor at Hebrew University says he has pinpointed the location of the sacred Jewish Temple, twice built and twice destroyed in ancient times. While popular consensus places the Temple, built by King Solomon in the 10th century BC and rebuilt by Jews who returned from Babylon in the 5th century BC, on the site of the present Muslim Dome of the Rock, Professor Joseph Patrich says archaeological remains show its exact location, and the consensus is wrong.
According to Patrich, the Temple, its corresponding courtyards, chambers and gates were oriented in a more southeasterly direction, sitting diagonally on what is the modern Temple Mount. The difference in orientation and the placement further eastward varies from the east-facing orientation of other scholars who believe the Temple was closer to today's Western Wall. However, that difference is why, Patrich says, the Temple did not sit over the rock believed by Jews to be the site where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac and where Muslims believe Muhammad ascended into heaven. Patrich's siting of the Temple is derived from information collected by British engineer Sir Charles Wilson in 1866 on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Wilson mapped a series of ancient cisterns below the present Temple Mount platform. One of those, Patrich says, preserves a vestige of the Temple that stood until it was destroyed by Rome in AD 70. The cistern mapped by Wilson, approximately 15 feet wide, 170 feet long and 45 feet deep, was located near the Temple Mount's southeast corner. It was oriented in a southeasterly direction with branches extending north and south.
Until now no one has ever thought that the location of the cistern on the Temple Mount and its unique shape were derived from the shape and location of the altar and sanctuary," Patrich told YNetNews. According to the archaeologist, this cistern is the only one found on the Temple Mount that corresponds to descriptions in the Jewish Mishnah, the rabbinic oral tradition compiled in the 3rd century AD, of daily purification and sacrificial duties carried out by the priests on the altar in the Temple courtyard. The Mishnah says water was drawn by a waterwheel mechanism from a cistern and held in a large basin, or laver, for daily purification by the Temple's priests before they ascended the nearby ramp to the altar to offer sacrifices. Patrich believes the placement of the waterwheel and laver can be reconstructed from Wilson's map of the giant southeast-trending cistern and from that, the location of the altar and the Temple itself. Patrich's siting has the Temple further east and south of locations proposed by other scholars and diagonal, rather than perpendicular to the Temple Mount's eastern and western walls. It also leaves the rock in the Dome of the Rock outside of the confines of the Temple itself. Patrich said his research on the Temple's location is strictly academic, and political connotations should not be attributed to it.
Riyadh’s Aim in Mecca: to Replace Tehran as Palestinian Hamas Backer
Feb. 12….(DEBKA) It is no wonder that Israeli policy-makers have had little to say to the Palestinian reconciliation accord which Saudi king Abdullah brokered in Mecca last week. Israel was shouldered off the stage as a player in Palestinian politics, as was any hope of moderating the Palestinian anti-Israel war, a breakthrough to peace talks, or even a form of long-term coexistence. Its main outcome was the anointing of Hamas as unconditional king of the Palestinian domain. This decline in Israel’s standing as a factor in Middle East politics dates back to the Lebanon War and its outcome last summer. If there are to be any accommodations with Israel, the Mecca accord has relegated them to an uncertain future and entirely on Saudi-Hamas terms. At Mecca, the Saudi monarch had quite different fish to fry: the replacement of Tehran as Hamas’ senior financier and backer. To this end, he dictated a reshuffle in both rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah. The Damascus-based hard-line Khaled Meshaal, who had signed a pact with Tehran, was demoted, as was the second signatory of the Palestinian reconciliation package, the moderate, pro-Western Mahmoud Abbas. Raised in their place was Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas’ political wing. Abbas’ ally, Gaza Strip Fatah commander Muhammad Dahlan, can expect a senior post in the Hamas-led government. Another winner is his business partner, the Palestinian-Kurdish tycoon Muhammad Rashid, who has turned his coat at least twice in two weeks while jostling to regain the influence he enjoyed behind the shoulder of the late Yasser Arafat who died in 2004. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources disclose that Ismail Haniya’s rise to the top of the Hamas tree was plotted during his visit to Riyadh in the second half of January. His audience with the king went on then for three hours, an unusual length for Abdullah’s conversations with foreign leaders. It sufficed for a secret deal to be concluded laying down the elements of cooperation between the Saudi government and Hamas political leaders in Gaza and effacing the effects of the US-led international boycott of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian government. Whereas Washington has so far not commented on this process, Abdullah has used it as a fulcrum for a fresh Saudi Middle East policy initiative. The Saudi King and the Hamas prime minister agreed on a six-point plan for subsequent incorporation as the core of the Mecca accord:
1. A shared interest in weakening Israel and active collaboration to achieve this goal;
2. This collaboration is based on personal trust between Abdullah and Haniyeh. As middlemen, they appointed Saudi intelligence chief Prince Moqrin bin Abdulaziz and the Palestinian Muhammed Rashid;
DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report the Saudi monarch sent his private plane to Libya Tuesday, Feb. 7, to fly Rashid first to Medina then to Mecca as his unofficial royal envoy to the Palestinian summit. Rashid’s role in obtaining the signed accord was crucial, elevating to him to a high albeit unofficial position of influence in the Saudi royal court and in Palestinian affairs;
3. The Saudi throne endorsed Ismail Hanya as Palestinian Prime Minister on condition that he introduced members of the Fatah young guard, led by Dahlan, to key government positions. This group of factions, which includes the suicidal al Aqsa Suicide Brigades, aspires to take Fatah over from the veteran leaders including Mahmoud Abbas;
4. King Abdullah personally guaranteed full Saudi diplomatic, military and financial support for the Hamas-led Palestinian government;
5. Hamas government members would not be required to recognize Israel or previous peace agreements. No mention was made of violence against Israel or the renunciation thereof;
6. The most pressing goal in Riyadh’s sights was Haniyeh’s personal guarantee to scale down in stages the Iranian and Hizballah presence in Hamas ranks with a view to banishing both from the Gaza Strip. Prince Moqrin is in charge of the quiet understandings accompanying this point of agreement, which also contains a Saudi pledge to take the place of Shiite Tehran and Hizballah by paying for all the weapons and military instructors the Palestinian group needs. Riyadh thus reverted to its original role as the founder and banker of Hamas, which the Saudis created in the 80s as a Sunni counterweight to the Shiite Hizballah. It is not at all sure that Haniyeh will be capable of living up to his six-point deal with the Saudi king or whether Meshaal will let him. Haniyeh leads Hamas’ political wing, but Meshaal, who was shunted aside in Mecca, is the master of the military wing. He is capable of ordering Hamas gunmen to challenge Haniyeh and thwart the deal’s execution. This would set off a fresh round of Palestinian factional warfare, which Meshaal and Abbas solemnly vowed in Mecca to halt. Over the weekend, a delegation of Hamas military chiefs arrived in Gaza from Damascus, presumably to arrest the decline of Meshaal’s standing in Gaza as a result of the newly-reshuffled Palestinian leadership, although this is not confirmed. No reaction has been forthcoming from Washington to the foursquare financial, military and intelligence backing Saudi Arabia has granted the extremist, jihadist Hamas, with no strings attached. The heads of Israel’s government have clearly not yet digested the fact that an Arab power which its policy-makers had counted on as a moderating, pro-Western Arab force had proved to be the opposite of this. Foreign minister Tzipi Livni appealed in Munich to European leaders not to be in a hurry to accept the Mecca Accord. She ducked the real issues: Saudi Arabia having show its real spots and the continuing passivity of the Bush administration, although Washington had enough leverage in Riyadh to hold the Saudis back from supping with Hamas.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 5 THROUGH FEBRUARY 12
Putin Accuses West of Bid to Force Will on World
Feb. 10….(Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin sharply criticized the United States and its Western allies on Saturday for what he said was an attempt to force their will on the world. Speaking at an annual gathering of top security and defense officials in Germany, Putin attacked the concept of a "unipolar world," implying the United States is the sole superpower, and said US actions abroad had made conflicts worse. "What is a unipolar world? No matter how we beautify this term it means one single center of power, one single center of force and one single master," Putin said. "It has nothing in common with democracy because that is the opinion of the majority taking into account the minority opinion. People are always teaching us democracy but the people who teach us democracy don't want to learn it themselves." Putin said the United States had repeatedly overstepped its national borders in questions of international security, a policy that he said had made the world less, not more, safe. "Unilateral actions have not resolved conflicts but have made them worse," Putin said, adding that force should only be used when backed by the United Nations Security Council. "This is very dangerous. Nobody feels secure any more because nobody can hide behind international law," he said.
Putin Blasts US for Use of Force
Feb. 10….(Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted the United States Saturday for the "almost uncontained" use of force in the world, and for encouraging other countries to acquire nuclear weapons. He also criticized US plans for missile defense systems and NATO's expansion. Putin told a security forum attracting top officials that "we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations" and that "one state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. "This is very dangerous, nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide behind international law," Putin told the gathering. Putin did not elaborate on specifics and did not mention the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. But he voiced concern about US plans to build a missile defense system in eastern Europe, likely in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the expansion of NATO as possible challenges to Russia. On the missile defense system, Putin said: "I don't want to accuse anyone of being aggressive" but suggested it would seriously change the balance of power and could provoke an unspecified response. "That balance will be upset completely and one side will have a feeling of complete security and given a free hand in local, and probably in global, conflicts." he said. "We need to respond to this." "The process of NATO expansion has nothing to do with modernization of the alliance or with ensuring security in Europe," Putin said. "On the contrary, it is a serious factor provoking reduction of mutual trust." He also dismissed suggestions that the European Union and NATO had the right to intervene alone in crisis regions. "The legitimate use of force can only done by the United Nations, it cannot be replaced by EU or NATO," he said. Putin's comments to a weekend forum attended by 250 officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the international community is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Merkel said Tehran needed to accept demands made by the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency. "There is no way around this," Merkel said. "What we are talking about here is a very, very sensitive technology, and for that reason we need a high degree of transparency, which Iran has failed to provide, and if Iran does not do so then the alternative for Iran is to slip further into isolation." Merkel, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, emphasized the international community's support for Israel and said there was a unified resolve to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. "We are determined to prevent the threat posed by an Iranian military nuclear program," she said. The annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, now in its 43rd year, is often used as an opportunity for officials to conduct diplomacy in an informal setting. Some 3,500 police were on hand to provide tight security for the conference and kept the usual throng of demonstrators away. This year, several thousand protesters were expected, protest organizers said. Heading in to the conference, Larijani, who is scheduled to speak on Sunday, said he planned to use the conference as an opportunity to talk about Iran's nuclear program. Those would be the first talks with Western officials since limited UN sanctions were imposed on the country in December, which fell short of harsher measures sought by the United States. At the opening dinner on Friday, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged international solidarity in putting pressure on Iran to prevent it from producing a nuclear weapon. "It is a regime that mocks the Holocaust while threatening the world with a new one, while trying to develop a weapon to do so," she said. "Iran is a threat not only to Israel, but to the world. The international community cannot show any hesitation on our part is being perceived as weakness." The conference this year focuses on "Global Crises, Global Responsibilities," looking at NATO's changing role, the Middle East peace process, the West's relations with Russia and the fight against terrorism. Gates, who planned to talk Sunday on trans-Atlantic relations, was expected to press allies for more troops and aid for a spring offensive in Afghanistan. He delivered the message Friday to a NATO defense minister's meeting in Seville, Spain, but got a lukewarm response. France and Germany are questioning the wisdom of sending more soldiers, while Spain, Italy and Turkey have also been wary of providing more troops.
Iran Sends QW-1 Anti-Air Missiles to Iraqi Sunni Insurgents and Hizballah to Shoot Down US and Israeli Helicopters
Feb. 10….(DEBKA) Sources in Tehran and Kurdistan disclose that, last month, two Iranian QW-1 and SA-7 missile consignments reached Iraqi insurgents allied with al Qaeda and one, radical Shiite Moqtada Sadr’s Shiite militia, the Mehdi Army. Israeli sources report the same anti-air weapons were delivered at about the same time to Hizballah units in Lebanon including the south. Our military sources add that Iran’s arms industry has succeeded in replicating a quality version of the Chinese QW-1 and improved its electronics. It is 1.447meters long and packs 16.5 kilos of explosives. The IDF estimates that the first of these missiles used experimentally by Hizballah caused an Israeli helicopter to explode during take-off near the Litani River in the Lebanon War last summer. Iranian markings have been erased from the equipment going into Iraq and Lebanon to suggest they were bought on the black market. Dated Soviet-era models of the SA-7 were indeed bought by Iran on Far East black markets and supplied to Iraqi insurgents and also pro-Tehran governors in western Afghanistan. Iran is preparing the ground for a Shiite insurgency against NATO forces there. According to our sources, all three consignments to Iraq went through the North Iraqi Kurdistani town of Suleimaniya not far from the Iranian border. An Iranian clandestine center operates there like “the liaison center” the Americans raided in another Kurdish town, Irbil, last month. The Suleimaniya center operates with permission from Iraqi’s Kurdish president Jalal Talabani. They weapons were smuggled in concealed compartments of trucks transporting building materials and iron from Iran for a Kurdish building company. After unloading their legitimate freight, the trucks drove on south up to the regional border where Iraqi insurgents off-loaded the missiles to their vehicles and distributed them to their networks in Baqouba, Ramadi and Tikrit, north of Baghdad and Hilla to the south.In January, two-man teams of Iraqi insurgents and Hizballah operatives were trained in the use of the new weapons against American and Israeli helicopters as instructors for missile crews in Iraq and Lebanon. One crewman was taught to locate the target and help the second to aim. The training facilities were set up in Kermanshah and Qasr-e Shirin close to the Iraqi border. Tehran is stepping up its provocations in reprisal for the US president George W. Bush’s directive to US forces to capture or kill Iranian agents, America’s refusal to release the Revolutionary Guards officers captured in Irbil and finally by the seizure last week of an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad.
PA Unity Government Aimed At Undermining US- Israel Alliance
Feb. 9….(FOJ) The new Palestinian unity government creates a real problem for Israel, in that it will end up placing pressure on the US to begin sending funds to Israel’s sworn enemy. The new government will still be headed Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh. Amd it will still enjoy an alliance with Iran. Moreover, it will not recognize Israel and does not pretend to meet the Quartet's conditions for Hamas to recognize Israel’s righ to exist. Thus, with the help of Hamas, Fatah has successfully skirted this issue that supposedly was circumvented in the mystical amending of the PLO charter. Yet at the same time, the US cannot claim that the current government is a Hamas government, as Hamas will not have a majority in the cabinet. The new finance minister-designate, Salem Fayad, is the White House's darling. The foreign minister-designate, academic Ziad Abu Amar, has lectured at many American universities and does not have extremist positions on Israel. And the interior minister, who commands the security forces, will be an independent rather than a Hamas member, though he will be appointed on Hamas' recommendation. Under these circumstances, Israel and the US will have trouble demanding that the international economic boycott of the Palestinian government remain in place. The other members of the Quartet, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, have been annoyed for some time by Washington's opposition to a unity government, and once one is in place, in another few weeks, some or all of these parties are liable to announce the resumption of relations with the Palestinian Authority. Indeed the EU is already planning for leaps down the Roadmap, whether the US likes the Hamas-led PA Unity government or not.
North Korea's Attacks on Christians Continue Unabated
Feb. 9….(WND) North Korea, where tens of thousands of Christians are kept in prison camps and tortured, many times to death, remains the No. 1 nation in the world for persecuting Christian believers, according to a new report from Open Doors USA. Reports are that four Christians had been executed in North Korea because of their Christian faith. One incident involved a woman and her grandmother who were washing clothes when a New Testament fell out of the woman's clothing. Both she and her grandmother were executed for that offense.
Government Won, Abbas Fatah Announces Suicide Bombings Are Coming To Israel
Feb. 9….(WND) Less than a day after rival Fatah and Hamas factions signed an agreement to form a unity government, the declared military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party today threatened to immediately send suicide bombers into Israel. "There are martyrs on their way to Israeli cities. We will keep sending bombers until we infiltrate and carry out an attack," Abu Nasser, deputy commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern West Bank, said that the Unity Government would pose no problem for coordinating with the Islamic Jihad group, Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other terror networks. Abu Nasser claimed his terror group will be attempting suicide bombings in Israel in response to the Israeli renovation work near the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The leaders of several other major Palestinian terror groups, including Islamic Jihad, and the Hamas-linked Popular Resistance Committees, also told WND today they were sending suicide bombers into Israel. Israeli security officials say the threats from the terror groups are credible. They say security forces are on high alert for suicide bombings and that they have specific intelligence of at least 19 planned attacks for the next 48-hours. While the terror groups claimed their planned attacks are in protest of Israel's Temple Mount construction, Israeli security officials say it might be an attempt by Fatah and Hamas to focus attention on fighting Israel so Palestinian infighting doesn't torpedo the new national unity agreement forged in Mecca last night. The Temple Mount has long been used by Palestinians as a pretence to start violence. The Palestinian intifada that began in 2000 started with rock throwing on the Temple Mount after then-candidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon visited the holy site.
Muslims Stage Violent Protest at Disputed Israel Holy Site
(Some Muslims angry at Israeli renovation near sacred Al-Aqsa mosque)
Feb. 9….(MSN) Hundreds of angry Islamic worshippers threw stones and scuffled with police on Friday in an eruption of outrage over contentious Israeli renovation work at a disputed Old City holy site. About 200 police streamed on to the hilltop compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, to try to quell the violence, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Witnesses said police hurled stun grenades. Several dozen protesters barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque at the compound, which is Islam’s third-holiest site. The protesters are angry about Israeli repair work on an earthen ramp leading to the hilltop compound, which they fear will damage the mosque. The clashes erupted at the end of Friday prayers at the site. Police had braced for possible riots during the prayers, which often have been a flashpoint for clashes. Friday prayers at the site and is attended by thousands of Muslims every week. The compound sits just above the Western Wall, a remnant the second Jewish temple. Israeli authorities promised that the plan to replace a centuries-old ramp damaged in a 2004 snowstorm would not damage the compound, about 60 yards way. But when work began earlier this week, it drew fierce protests in the Arab world, where many leaders accused Israel of plotting to harm Muslim holy sites. On Thursday, a fiery Islamic leader appealed to fellow Israeli Arabs and Muslims around the world to rise up against the Israeli renovations. “The aggression happening now is a tragedy, a crime,” Raed Salah, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, told The Associated Press. He accused Israel of declaring “a regional, religious war.” Israeli officials said the Muslim extremists are using the renovation work as a pretext to stoke anger against Israel.
The compound, home to the golden-capped Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa mosque, is the third-holiest site for Muslims, who believe that it is where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. For Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, it is also a focal point of national pride. The compound is sacred to Jews as the site of their biblical temples. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said entrance to the Friday prayers would be restricted. West Bank Palestinians would be barred, as would Israeli Arab and east Jerusalem men under 45, he said. Israel has controlled the compound since the 1967 Middle East War, but has left the administration of its Muslim holy sites largely to the Palestinians and Jordan.
Archeologist: Ancient Cistern Proves Location of Second Temple
Feb. 9….(Jerusalem Post) An Israeli archeologist said Wednesday that he has pinpointed the exact location of the Second Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. The site identified by Hebrew University archeologist Prof. Joseph Patrich, based on the study of a large underground cistern on the Temple Mount and passages from the Mishna, places the Temple and its corresponding courtyards, chambers and gates in a more southeasterly and diagonal frame of reference compared to previous studies. Patrich based his research, which is about to be published, on a study of a large underground cistern on the Temple Mount that was mapped by British engineer Sir Charles Wilson in 1866 on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund, along with passages from the Mishna. The giant cistern, 4.5 meters wide and 54 meters long, lay near the southeastern corner of the upper platform of the Temple Mount. Examining the location and configuration of the cistern together with descriptions of the daily rite in the Temple and its surroundings found in the Mishna, Patrich said that this cistern is the only one found on the Temple Mount that can tie in with the ancient rabbinic text describing elements involved in the daily purification and sacrificial duties carried out by the priests on the altar in the Temple courtyard. On this basis, he says, one can reconstruct the placement of a large basin that was used by the priests for their ritual washing, with the water being drawn by a waterwheel mechanism from the cistern. After this purification, the priests ascended the nearby ramp to the sacrificial altar. By thus locating the laver, the water wheel, the ramp and the altar, one can then finally map, again in coordination with the Mishna, the alignment of the Temple itself and its gates and chambers, he said. These considerations led Patrich to place the Second Temple further to the east and south than earlier thought, and at a southeasterly angle relative to the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, and not perpendicular to it, as earlier assumed. Patrich said that his research indicates that the rock over which the Dome of the Rock was built in the 7th century CE is actually outside the confines of the Temple. The rock is believed to be the place at which the binding of Isaac took place, while Muslims consider it to be the spot from which Muhammad ascended to heaven. The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site as the ancient compound where the two Jewish Temples stood, and is Islam's third holiest site after Mecca and Medina.
Free World Asleep While Evil Axis Advances
Feb. 9….(Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) Unless the United States, Europe and Israel awake from their numb slumber and take strong united action, the evil axis of Russia, China and Iran will tighten their noose around the free world and pull it tight so swiftly that it may be too late to counter. Russia’s military spending, development and deployment has tripled in the past five years. China’s military also has grown exponentially and its satellite attack capability changes the balance of world military power. Iran, with the aid of China and Russia, is expanding its support of global terrorism on a daily basis. These allies are a dynamic force that is moving ahead in their diabolical agenda faster than the West is willing to recognize. Middle East News Line reports that Israeli military officials are expressing concern that advanced Chinese missile technology is being funneled to Iran either through China or through North Korea. They say that Iran has been financing North Korean missile and strategic weapons development based on Russian and Chinese technology. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz is concerned that Iran’s quest to acquire an independent space-launch capability, such as that displayed by China when it launched an attack against a weather satellite earlier this month, could invoke “extreme scenarios in which our space assets could become paralyzed by enemy action.” Iran’s tentacles stretch far beyond supplying weapons, money and personnel to terrorists in Iraq fighting against the United States. Iran, through Syria, is supplying the terrorist group Hezbollah with weapons that are being deployed along the Golan Heights border with Israel. Iran is supplying weapons and cash to Hamas terrorists in Israel. Iran is also aiding al Qaeda in its efforts in other parts of the world. And Iran is supplying Shiite terrorists in remote places like Yemen with grenades, rockets and anti-tank missiles. Meantime, the United States is putting diplomatic pressure on Europe to take stronger measures against Iran through economic sanctions. But European countries, led by France, do not see the need to cut off billions of dollars in trade with Iran just to slow down its nuclear development or the spread of worldwide terrorism. Indeed, the United States, Europe and Israel continue to trade with China and Russia knowing full well that these countries are allied with Iran in its nuclear and missile development as well as in supporting terrorism. Revelation 18:17 speaks of the fall of the great trading nation Babylon, which was given over to “the hold of every foul spirit”, saying “For in one hour so great riches is come to naught.” Could this be a warning to those who embrace the money from these evil nations more than righteousness?
Russia Planning Major Military Build-up
Feb. 9….(Guardian) Russia is planning to buy new intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines and possibly aircraft carriers as part of an ambitious military program, it emerged yesterday. The defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, told parliament the military would have 17 new ballistic missiles this year, a hefty increase on the four deployed on average each year in recent times. The purchases are part of a weapons modernization program for 2007-2015 worth about 5 trillion roubles (£96.4bn). The program envisages the deployment of 34 new silo-based Topol-M missiles and another 50 mounted on mobile launchers. So far, Russia has deployed more than 40 silo-based Topol-Ms. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and other officials have described the Topol-M as the backbone of Russia's arsenal, saying it can penetrate any missile defenses. Last week, Mr. Putin dismissed US claims that missile defense sites it hopes to establish in Poland and the Czech Republic were intended to counter threats from Iran. He said Russia would respond by developing more efficient weapons. Russian defense spending has been rising steadily in recent years, buoyed by oil revenues and high energy prices. But the military effort is still puny compared with the US defense budget. The White House this week requested $481.4bn (£244.8bn) for the regular military budget in 2008 and $235bn on top of that for Afghanistan and Iraq. Analysts questioned whether the big Russian rises of recent years would really improve the dire state the military has been in since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. "Nobody knows whether the dramatic increases will overcome Russia's military crisis, said Yuri Fedorov, an associate fellow at the London thinktank Chatham House. "The situation has not really improved because of the absence of real military reform, corruption and the war in Chechnya, which demonstrated that Russian land forces are in a desperate situation." A rapid build-up of advanced weapons would also tax Russia's defense companies, which have received virtually no government orders for a decade. "Links to subcontractors have been broken, and the defense plants now need to rebuild them to produce weapons," the independent military analyst Alexander Golts said. Mr Ivanov said the military now had enough money to intensify combat training. "Combat readiness of the army and the navy is currently the highest in the post-Soviet history," he said, adding that the task now was to "exceed Soviet-era levels". Mr Ivanov said the military now had about 1.13 million servicemen compared with 1.34 million in 2001; by 2015 the military would have about 1 million servicemen. "We can't go below that," he warned.
Abbas and Meshal Reach PA Unity Deal in Mecca
(Fatah-Hamas agreement on the formation of a national unity government, signed in Mecca and brokered by Saudi King Abdullah)
Feb. 9….(AP) Rival Palestinian factions signed a power-sharing accord aimed at ending months of bloodshed Thursday, agreeing that the Islamic militant group Hamas would head a new coalition government that would "respect" past peace agreements with Israel. However, Israel and the US have demanded the new government explicitly renounce violence, recognize Israel and agree to uphold past peace accords. The vague promise to respect past deals, a compromise reached after Hamas rejected pressure for more binding language, did not appear to go far enough. US and Israeli acceptance is crucial to the deal's success. Unless they are convinced Hamas has sufficiently moderated, the West is unlikely to lift a crippling financial blockade of the Palestinian government, and it will be difficult to advance the peace process. In Washington, the State Department issued a cautious statement late Thursday that avoided judgment on reports of a deal, saying officials had not yet seen details of either the composition or the political program for the new government.
"In terms of what the outcome of those discussions look like and whether they meet the Quartet principles, I think we'll just have to see," State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said earlier. Shortly after Hamas won elections in January 2006, the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace mediators, the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia, said future aid to a new Palestinian government led by the militant group "would be reviewed by donors against that government's commitment to renounce violence" and recognize Israel and other agreements. Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin would not say whether Israel believes the guidelines of the new government fulfill those demands. "Israel expects a new Palestinian government to respect and accept all three of the international community principles," Eisin told The Associated Press after the accord was announced. At stake is roughly $1 billion a year in frozen aid from foreign donors in addition to approximately $500 million in withheld tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. Palestinians also hope the agreement will avert an outright civil war. Clashes between Hamas and Fatah gunmen have killed 130 Palestinians since May, and cease-fires have repeatedly broken down. The latest fragile truce came Sunday, after four days of fighting killed 30 people. The Mecca meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal involved two days of intense negotiations in a Mecca palace overlooking the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, a venue Saudi Arabia chose to step up the pressure on the two sides to compromise. Much of the negotiations centered on a single word. Abbas pressed Hamas to accept the stronger stance of "committing to" past peace accords with Israel signed by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Liberation Organization. But in the end, he was forced to settle for the promise to "respect" them. The final agreement was announced at a ceremony aired live on Arab television Thursday night, in which Saudi King Abdullah sat with Abbas on his right and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on his left. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement as a "very important step forward" and said he hoped it would curb violence. Saudi Arabia, which put its credibility on the line by hosting the high-profile summit in the holy city of Mecca, promised $1 billion in aid to the Palestinians, according to Ahmed Youssef, a political adviser to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. The kingdom will likely now face the task of selling the agreement to its ally, the United States. A first test of international acceptance of the deal could come on Feb. 19, when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Abbas and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are due to meet in Jerusalem for talks intended to revive peace negotiations. If the West does not back the new government and refuses to lift the economic boycott, it could put a strain on the fragile peace between Hamas and Fatah.
Hamas to Join US Funded Militias?
(New unity deal calls for integrated forces, not committed to peace)
Feb. 9….(WND) A unity government deal signed today by leaders of the rival Fatah and Hamas factions includes a clause calling for the integration of Hamas militias into security forces controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party, WND has learned. The US has armed, trained and funded Fatah militias. The agreement does not call for the new Palestinian unity government to recognize Israel and does not commit Hamas to abide by previous peace deals with Israel, only to "respect" the previous peace deals. "There is a huge difference between 'respect' and 'committed to keep' peace deals," an adviser to Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND, speaking from Mecca. "This new unity government is a major victory for Hamas," the adviser said. Khaleed Meshaal, the Damascus based head of Hamas, asked the international community to recognize the new government. Fatah and Hamas sources told WND one of the clauses of the agreement calls for the integration of Hamas' 20,000-member Special Forces unit into the Palestinian government's main militias, which are controlled by Fatah. The sources said a special committee will convene Sunday to create an apparatus for the integration of the security forces and to determine how many Hamas members will join the new force. The US has been reportedly providing Abbas' forces with aid and weapons the past few months. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month told reporters the US is working with Fatah to create a unified Palestinian security force. The Bush administration reportedly will grant $86.4 million to strengthen the Fatah forces, including Force 17, Abbas' security detail, which also serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The US has transferred 7,000 assault rifles and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition to Fatah militias. The last confirmed American arms shipment to Fatah took place in May. At first, the shipment, consisting of 3,000 rifles, was denied by the US and Israel, but Olmert in June admitted the transfer took place, telling reporters, "I needed to approve the shipment to help bolster Abbas." At the time, Abu Yousuf, a Fatah militant from Abba's Force 17 security forces, told WND, the bulk of the American arms would be utilized to "hit the Zionists." He said if there is a major conflict with Israel, US weapons provided to Fatah may be shared with other "Palestinian resistance organizations." A Fatah militant said the new American weapons will indeed be used to target Israelis, just like previous American arms supplied to Fatah were used in "resistance operations" against the Jewish state. “We don't look where this piece or that piece of weapon came from when fighting the Israelis," Abu Yousuf said.
How Would a President Hillary Clinton Affect Israel?
Feb. 8….(FOJ) Remember the 1990’s when Bill Clinton was the popular US President, and he used his political clout to promote the Oslo Peace Process (a Trojan Horse strategy) down Israel’s collective throat in spite of the fact that Yasser Arafat was a known terrorist and that he never kept a single solitary article of the Accords? Remember the Israeli electorate deciding to choose Benjamin Netanyahu as its President because they were sick and tired of Palestinian terrorism and suicide bombings, and wanted a leader that would wage war on terror? Do you remember how Mr. Netanyahu so often using the word “reciprocity” to try to appeal to the Clinton Administration that Israel was simply getting the shaft in Mr. Clinton’s Nobel winning peace deal, while Arafat did absolutely nothing, and yet got everything that he required? Do you remember President and Ms. Clinton visiting Gaza to give credence to the “supposed amending” of the Palestinian Charter that calls for Israel’s destruction? Do you remember Ms. Clinton visiting the Jabaliya refugee camp outside Gaza and castigating Israel for forcing the Palestinian to live in such deplorable conditions? Under President Bill Clinton, Israel was forced to give up large portions of the Promised Land, and ended up shoved into a corner. During the first decade of the 2000’s Under President G.W. Bush, Israel has been forced to recognize the UN mandated legitimacy of a new Palestinian State. One can only wonder what the future holds for Israel under yet another Clinton Administration, but my thinking is that they may have to fight for their very survival this time around.
Archaeologist: Temple Mount Becoming Mosque for Muslims Only
(Top archaeologist blasts Israeli inaction as Islam 'takes over' Judaism's holiest site)
Feb. 7….(WND) The Israeli government is "doing nothing" while the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount discard Jewish artifacts and attempt to turn Judaism's holiest site into an exclusive prayer zone for Islam, a leading Israeli archeologist charged today. Hebrew University's Eilat Mazor said the Waqf, the site's Muslim custodians, "want to turn the whole of the Temple Mount into a mosque for Muslims only." "They don't care about the artifacts or heritage on the site," Mazor told the Israeli news site YnetNews.com. "The Waqf has acted terribly, taking thousands of tons of artifacts from the First Temple, the Second Temple, as well as Muslim artifacts, and throwing them away." Mazor was referring to Muslim excavations near a new mosque constructed at the Temple Mount's Solomon's Stables. During the excavations, the Wafq reportedly disposed truckloads of dirt containing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods. After the media reported this, Israeli authorities froze the construction permit given to the Wafq. "There is a total ignorance of history and archeology. Artifacts showing ancient history are hidden," Mazor said. Meanwhile, Muslims here this week are protesting work by the Israeli antiquities authority to repair a ramp near the Temple Mount even though the work, at the Western Wall plaza, is not taking place on the Mount and poses no threat to the holy site. Muslim leaders are calling for a "new intifada" to protest the routine Israeli repair work. Mazor, a third-generation Israeli Temple Mount archaeologist, is the discoverer and lead archaeologist of Israel's City of David, believed to be the palace of the biblical King David, the second leader of a United Kingdom of Israel, who ruled from around 1005 to 965 BC. Mazor slammed the inaction of the Israeli government while Islam "takes over" the Temple Mount. WND broke the story last week that Olmert has given permission for Jordan to build a large minaret adjacent to a mosque on the Temple Mount to call Muslims to prayer at the holy site. The minaret will stand at a site on the Mount where Jewish groups here had petitioned to build a synagogue. The synagogue was to be built in accordance with rulings from several prominent rabbis, who said Jews can ascend the Mount at certain areas.
US Urged to Stop Supporting Terrorist Abbas
Feb. 8…..(CNS/By Julie Stahl and Patrick Goodenough) Attempts by the Bush administration and Israel's Olmert government to bolster Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction are causing deepening concern, particularly given Fatah's continuing role in terrorism and Abbas' recent calls for supporters to turn their guns on Israel. The United States is sending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to strengthen Abbas and Fatah against Hamas, its longtime ally and recent rival. The two factions have been locked in an increasingly violent power struggle since Hamas won a majority in legislative elections last year, and street battles between the factions have claimed dozens of Palestinian lives. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered a number of concessions to Abbas, and the White House confirmed last week that the administration has asked Congress to release $86 million to build and train Abbas' security forces. According to US government documents cited by Reuters this week, the US will provide training and non-lethal equipment to as many as 13,500 Palestinian military personnel "in an effort to improve public order and fight terror in the West Bank and Gaza." The White House confirmation came just a day after the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility, jointly with another group, Islamic Jihad, for a suicide bombing in the southern city of Eilat. Three Israelis were killed in the attack, carried out by a Palestinian from Gaza. An Al-Aqsa spokesman told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an that the joint operation was one of a series, and "a sign that coordination between the military wings in the different factions can be fruitful." The Bush administration characterizes Abbas as a "moderate" and a counterweight to Hamas, which has close ties to Iran. Yet at least twice in less than a month, Abbas has told Palestinians to stop fighting each other and to target Israel instead in their attacks. The first occasion came on the eve of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to the region. Abbas' Jan. 11 remarks to a Fatah rally in Ramallah were largely ignored by the mainstream media. The second comment came early this week, when on the eve of a meeting in Saudi Arabia with an exiled Hamas leader, Abbas was quoted as saying: "We must unite the Hamas and Fatah blood in the struggle against Israel as we did at the beginning of the intifada." Speaking on the floor of the US House of Representatives last week, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) quoted Abbas' comments from Jan 11, saying, "I find it disheartening and deeply troubling that Abbas would sanction violence against Israel instead of calling upon his people to support peaceful compromise with Israel.” Palestinian leaders must understand that they can no longer support peace when speaking to Western audiences while advocating violence against Israel when addressing their people," Wilson said. "Abbas' statements suggest that he is not the 'moderate' Palestinian leader that many claim he is. Unless he renounces violence once and for all and takes steps to disarm terrorists, Abbas may not deserve additional US aid." Wilson's remarks won praise from the Zionist Organization of America. "Abbas and his political party Fatah is often labeled 'moderate' by the Western press, European governments, and the Bush Administration," ZOA national president Morton Klein said in a statement. "It is vital that Members of Congress continue to have the courage to speak out and question this inappropriate designation," he added. Klein, who is currently attending a major conference of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, told CNS News Service on Tuesday that during the conference, he challenged US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones on Abbas' comments. He also pointed out to the ambassador that Fatah has not amended its constitution, and asked how the US government could possibly call Abbas a moderate. Klein said the envoy had been "stunned," and had then replied that "Abbas isn't perfect." "The issue is not perfection" but Abbas' call for violence, Klein said. He argued that Washington is ignoring the PA chairman's remarks because it wants to "act as if there is somebody to talk to, even though there is nobody to talk to." In the view of Israeli political analyst Yoram Ettinger, anyone who promotes the idea of supporting Abbas or others PA leaders is ignoring the facts. For decades, he told CNS News Service, Abbas had been "the most loyal deputy and confidant" of the late PLO and Fatah leader, Yasser Arafat. Ettinger, a former Israeli government liaison to the US Congress, charged that it was Abbas who originated the idea of using Palestinian schools, mosques and media to foster hatred against Israel. Abbas also promoted the PLO's ties with the Soviet and East Berlin regimes, and was the architect of the PA's ties with Damascus and Tehran. Ettinger called Abbas' regime one of the "most oppressive" in the world, adding that during his tenure, the "massive flight" of Christian Arabs from Bethlehem and surrounding areas that began during Arafat's rule has continued. "We're not talking about a moderate person," said Ettinger. "The idea that Abbas is not as bad as Hamas is like saying, 'let's legitimize the Boston Strangler because he's better than Jack the Ripper," he added. Ettinger said that training forces loyal to Abbas will simply facilitate Palestinian terrorism against Israelis and others, including Americans. It also would help the Palestinians to someday overthrow the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, he predicted. (Jordan is part of the area long claimed by the Palestinian Arabs.) Anyone who thinks that training the Fatah forces will reduce terrorism or encourage moderation ignores the fact that Palestinians trained by the Americans in the past have gone on to murder Israelis and Americans, he said. During the Palestinian intifada that began in 2000, many members of the P.A. security forces also operated with terrorist organizations and were involved in terrorist attacks.
'Eradicate Zionist state'
signing of numerous peace agreements with Israel since 1994, one of the goals
set down in Fatah's Constitution remains the "complete liberation of Palestine,
and eradication of the Zionist economic, political and cultural existence."
"Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab
People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in
uprooting the Zionist existence" which won't end until "the Zionist state is
demolished and Palestine is completely liberated," the charter states. The
reference to the demolition of the "Zionist state" makes it clear, analysts say,
that Fatah, like Hamas, has as its goal the destruction of all of Israel, not
merely the removal of the Israeli presence from the West Bank and Gaza. They
also note that Fatah was established several years before Israel, in
1967, captured what is now known as the "occupied territories," so its
references to destroying Israel apply to all of Israel.
Nonetheless, some analysts here do regard Abbas as a moderate. Dan Diker, foreign policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said he believes that Abbas is moderate at heart, but also is very weak. Israel is interested in maintaining the idea that there is still hope for an Israeli-Palestinian peace process rather than facing the fact that the Iranians are behind most of the terror here, he said in a telephone interview. Gershon Baskin of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information argues that Israel and the US should strengthen Abbas, but not in the way they have been doing. Baskin said the attempts to strengthen Abbas so far have not been genuine. When the US announces that it is sending tens of millions of dollars to Abbas it actually weakens him in Palestinians' eyes by making him look like an agent of the US, he argued. What Abbas really needs is to be put in a position where he can point to advances in peace negotiations and say that there is an authentic process underway. That would genuinely strengthen him, said Baskin. He also dismissed Abbas' recent comments about Palestinians turning their guns on Israel, arguing that the "occupation" referred only to Israel's presence in the West Bank.
Iran’s Leader Warns US Against Attack
(Khamenei says Iran prepared to strike American interests around the world)
Feb. 8….(MSNBC) If the United States were to attack Iran, the country would respond by striking U.S. interests all over the world, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday. Speaking to a gathering of Iranian air force commanders, Khamenei said: “The enemy knows well that any invasion would be followed by a comprehensive reaction to the invaders and their interests all over the world.” Iranian leaders often speak of a crushing response to any attack. While the remarks are seen as an attempt to drum up national support, Iran’s position on Iraq and its nuclear program have provoked more than usual international pressure in recent months. President Bush has ordered American troops to act against Iranians suspected of being involved in the Iraqi insurgency and has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf area as a warning to Iran. The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions because of Iran’s refusal to cease uranium enrichment. “Some people say that the US president is not prone to calculating the consequences of his actions,” Khamenei said in remarks broadcast on state television, “but it is possible to bring this kind of person to wisdom. “US policymakers and analysts know that the Iranian nation would not let an invasion go without a response,” Khamenei added.
Rice Rejects Middle East 'Linkage' Concept
Feb. 8….(Jerusalem Post) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected Wednesday the linkage concept, according to which ending Israeli-Palestinian strife is the key to resolving the other conflicts in the Middle East. The Israeli-Palestinian issue is "ready to be resolved on its own terms," Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She said she wanted to be "very clear" that the US government was pushing for peace between Israelis and Palestinians as an end in itself, and not in order to get other diplomatic returns. She also rejected conjecture that the Bush administration was acting aggressively against Iranians in Iraq and bulking up its presence in the region in preparation for a war with the Islamic Republic. "We are not planning...an attack on Iran," she said. "What we are doing is responding to a number of Iranian policies in Iraq and around the world that are quite dangerous to our national security." Rice also welcomed legislation proposed by committee chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) Wednesday that, he said, would expose the "pure fiction" of Iran's claims that it is developing nuclear capabilities for civilian purposes. Lantos's bill would provide for the creation of an International Nuclear Fuel Bank under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which would allow all countries to receive nuclear fuel and thereby preclude nations' need to develop their own uranium enrichment capabilities. The idea is that this would prevent countries from mastering the fuel cycle, and with it the means to build nuclear weapons. "If Iran's nuclear program is truly peaceful, Teheran should welcome an opportunity to ensure a stable supply of nuclear fuel from an internationally supported nuclear fuel bank located in a safe nation," he said during at HFAC hearing on the State Department's 2008 budget. "If Iran is instead building a nuclear weapon, its nefarious intentions will be quickly exposed should it refuse to participate in this important project." Lantos said that Iran's ability to argue that it wants a nuclear plan for civilian use hurt American attempts to build an international consensus to thwart Teheran's nuclear ambitions. "Iran's excuses prevent us from exerting strong multilateral pressure on Iran through increased economic sanctions," he told Rice, who was testifying before Lantos's committee.
Iran’s Khamenei Urges Muslims to Revenge Temple Mount Dig
Feb. 7….(YNET) The Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out the excavation work near an unused ramp leading up to the Mugrabi Gate, an entrance to the Temple Mount, which engineers have said is in danger of collapse. The dig precedes the planned construction of a new Mugrabi bridge, which is slated to replace a makeshift wooden bridge built above the ramp three years ago to connect the Old City's Dung Gate with the Mugrabi Gate. The wooden bridge has allowed tou rists, security forces and Jewish visitors to enter the Temple Mount via the Mugrabi Gate, located next to the Western Wall. Police demanded its construction after part of the ramp buckled on a snowy night in February 2004. The excavation is taking place alongside a salvage dig in the nearby archeological park, in one of the most sensitive spots in Israel: at the foot of the southwest corner of a wall in the Temple Mount compound. Arab leaders have argued that Israel is trying to undermine the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to prepare the ground for the Third Temple. Jordan's King Abdullah II said yesterday that the excavations are "a blatant violation that is not acceptable under any pretext." The king said the activity "will only create an atmosphere that will not at all help in the success of efforts being undertaken to restore the peace process."
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the excavations at the Mugrabi Gate near the Temple Mount on Wednesday and called on Islamic nations to retaliate against Israel. ''The world of Islam should show a serious reaction to the Zionist regime's insult to Al-Aqsa Mosque,'' Iranian state television quoted Khamenei as saying during a meeting with Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, leader of the Islamic Jihad organization. "Silence is not an option given these actions, the Muslim world must respond," said Khamenei. Khamenei did not say what sort of response he intended, but said Israel should be made to ''regret'' what it is doing. Khamenei also addressed the violent clashes within the Palestinian Authority: "Everyone, including the Palestinian factions and Islamic states, needs to make an effort to agree on a ceasefire soon so that the enemy's plot will fail." "Hizbullah's victory, the successes of Hamas and Iran's achievements all fulfill Allah's promises and fill the hearts of Muslims with hope and determination," said Khamenei. Meanwhile Damascus joined Khamenei in condemning the Mugrabi works on Wednesday. A Syrian Foreign Ministry official told the state-run news agency that, "Syria strongly condemns these violations, and considers them a blatant affront to Muslim waqfs and the feelings of Muslims worldwide." Jordanian King Abdullah also had harsh words regarding the works on Tuesday: "Israeli excavation works near the al-Aqsa mosque in the holy city of Jerusalem have led to a dangerous rise in Middle East tensions and could derail revival of Arab-Israeli peace talks. "What Israel is doing in its practices and attacks against our sacred Muslim sites in Jerusalem and al-Aqsa is a blatant violation that is not acceptable under any pretext," the monarch was quoted by the state news agency Petra as saying. Israeli police, meanwhile, detained Shiekh Raad Salah, head of northern chapter of the Islamic Movement, along with six other activists on Wednesday after they attempted to enter the excavation site near the Temple Mount. The men were detained after a confrontation with police forces at the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni responded on Wednesday to the criticism against Israel, saying "the Temple Mount is the most sacred place for the Jewish people. The State of Israel would never harm freedom of religion to people of all faiths in Jerusalem. "There are irresponsible people, who know perfectly well that there is no damage being done to any holy site, who are abusing the Israeli democracy to incite religious sentiments for political gains," she said.
Rice Summit Could Lead Directly to Palestinian State?
(Chief negotiator expects meetings this month to result in 'bold' moves)
Feb. 7….() The Palestinians are expecting a summit slated for later this month mediated by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lead to final status negotiations and the establishment of a Palestinian state, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told WND in an interview today. "I seriously believe Israel and the Palestinians will use the summit to move in the direction of final status negotiations and a solution, because I think we are realizing the only way to create peace is by creating a Palestinian state," Erekat said. Erekat was referring to a trilateral summit planned for Feb. 19 and announced yesterday by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The talks will include Olmert, Rice and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Olmert described the summit as a "significant" bid to restart long stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks. Israeli and Palestinian diplomatic sources told WND Olmert is expected to use the summit to offer Abbas far-reaching concessions. Asked if he expects the summit to pave the way toward an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Erekat replied, "I don't want to create any expectations, but I will say I believe the summit will bring about bold and strategic initiatives in the direction of a Palestinian state." The new momentum created by the summit comes after WND broke the story last month that, according to top European, Israel has been conducting behind-the-scene negotiations to hand over most of the West Bank to Abbas' security forces.
Russia Deploying Defense Penetrating Nuclear Missile System
Feb. 7….(AP) The Russian military will sharply increase the number of new intercontinental ballistic missiles to be deployed this year as part of an ambitious weapons modernization plan, Russia's defense minister said Wednesday. Sergei Ivanov said the military would get 17 new ballistic missiles, a drastic rise compared with an average four deployed annually over recent years. The purchases are part of a weapons modernization program for 2007-2015 worth about $189 billion. Ivanov said in a speech before lawmakers that the plan envisages the deployment of the total of 34 new silo-based Topol-M missiles and their control units, as well as another 50 such missiles mounted on mobile launchers through 2015; Russia so far has deployed more than 40 silo-based Topol-Ms. President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have described the Topol-M as a bulwark of Russia's nuclear might for years to come, and hailed its ability to penetrate any prospective missile defenses. Putin last week dismissed Washington's claims that missile defense sites it hopes to establish in Poland and the Czech Republic were intended to counter threats posed by Iran, and said that Russia would respond by developing even more efficient weapons systems. A rising tide of oil revenues gave Russia a chance to increase its defense spending following a desperate money shortage that plagued the military throughout the 1990s. "The economic growth and the scientific achievements allow us to reach a qualitatively new level in military procurement," Ivanov said. Russia's defense budget which stood at $8.1 billion in 2001 nearly quadrupled to $31 billion this year, Ivanov said. But despite a steady increase in military spending in recent years, Putin said last week that Moscow's military budget was still 25 times smaller than Washington's defense spending. Ivanov said that a share of weapons purchases in the military budget also has been growing over years. This year, the military will spend $5.4 billion on new weapons, buying aircraft, tanks and other armored vehicles and four new satellites, he said.
FOJ Note: Why is it that Russia feels the need to build and deploy nuclear weapons that can penetrate any national defense shield? Sounds a little suspicious to me! Russia and China both oppose the US deploying its national missile defense shield.
Hamas and Fatah Meet in Mecca
Feb. 7….(WND) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas began crisis talks with his Hamas rivals in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, vowing to hammer out a deal on a unity government that could end an international blockade. "We want to create a unity government and that is everyone's demand. We want a government that can end the blockade," Abbas said in live television footage of the meeting overlooking the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site. "Recent days have been very black and may God not allow them to return. It has been a catastrophe that must not be repeated. We don't want blood spilled." Abbas' Fatah movement and Islamist group Hamas, which won a parliamentary election last year, have been locked in a power struggle that has killed more than 90 people since December. Western countries have blocked funding to Hamas until it recognizes Israel and agrees to previous agreements with Israel signed by the Palestinian Authority. Adding urgency to the Palestinian talks, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday he would meet Abbas and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on February 19, in a "significant" bid to restart long-stalled peace talks. But with Israel and its ally the United States opposing a unity government unless Hamas meets Western demands to recognize Israel and renounce violence, that meeting could be in jeopardy. Incentives for Abbas to drive a hard bargain include Israel's decision to release $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues and Washington's effort to bolster the Palestinian president by training and equipping his security forces. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said he had come to the table determined to reach a deal that would end Palestinian divisions, though he made no specific mention of the unity government. "We will not leave this place without agreement, God willing," Meshaal said, speaking after Abbas. "If it finds us unified, the international community will have to respect our wishes and lift the unjust blockade."
Saudi media have said there will be no Saudi interference in the talks, but the key US ally and traditional funder of the Palestinian Authority has tried to pressure Hamas over the past year, Western diplomats in Riyadh say. King Abdullah, who called the reconciliation talks, urged the Palestinian leaders on Tuesday to "respond to the voice of reason" and avoid a civil war that would put decades of gains in the struggle with Israel at risk, Saudi media said. Fatah officials will also argue that a new unity government must adhere to a 2002 Saudi-sponsored Arab peace initiative that offers Israel comprehensive peace in return for a Palestinian state.
Iran’s Khamenei Accuses Israel of Dividing Muslim World
Feb. 6….(YNET) (Iranian supreme leader tells Pakistani President Musharraf, 'Zionist regime was created by West to divide Muslim world'; says regional troubles will end once 'era of American aggressiveness and Zionist crimes passes')
The establishment of the Zionist regime was an act committed by the West to create an ongoing clash in the Muslim world," said Iran's supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Monday during a meeting with visiting Pakistani President Gen. Perves Musharraf. "Any plan involving the Middle East will not be successful until the era of American aggressiveness ends and the Zionist crimes are stopped," said Khamenei. Khamenei also focused on the Palestinian issue, saying that Israel's weaknesses became apparent during the Lebanon war while the Hamas government's "stand against the 'Zionists' is helping to show the path to the Palestinians' problem."
Gaza Baptist Church Seized by PA
Feb. 6….(ASSIST News) Palestinian Authority (PA) police of the Fatah party have seized the six-story Gaza Baptist Church building as a watch point against militants supporting the governing Hamas movement. Hanna Massad, pastor of Gaza Baptist Church, wrote in a Feb. 3 prayer SOS that late on Feb. 2, PA police officers demanded the building key from the church’s lone guard. The guard, who had no key, informed church leaders, who refused to give the key to police. PA Police then broke into the building, taking up positions on the sixth floor. The guard called a church leader, who informed Massad. Because of the battles raging on Gaza’s streets, Massad has been unable to leave his house to check on the building, he told Open Doors. Brother Andrew spoke at the new building’s dedication in November 2006. The building houses the church’s sanctuary, Gaza’s only Christian library, a guest hostel and a mammogram clinic. Massad described the crisis as “the worst situation we ever went through in Gaza.”
Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller, who also attended the building dedication last November, says: “Christians in Gaza are caught in the crossfire. And it’s getting worse. It is so vital that the Gaza Baptist Church remains open so ministry can be carried out to those who are even now more marginalized. Gaza fighting pits forces controlled by the secular Fatah party, including the police, against the majority Islamic party Hamas. Should PA police fire at Hamas militants from the commandeered church, reprisal fire could severely damage the building as has happened before, the pastor said. A fresh cease-fire was declared Sunday evening, but there was no indication it would be any more successful than previous truces in recent weeks of factional fighting, reported the Associated Press (AP) on Sunday. Gaza Baptist Church leader Khader Khoury noted that nine cease-fire attempts have occurred in five days. Even if police abandon the church building, gunfire flies on the streets as rival factions vie for control. Frightened Gazans remain in their homes. Massad told Open Doors Sunday morning that early worship had been cancelled because Gaza is “not stable.” “It’s a very dangerous situation. It’s in God’s hands,” he said. “Nothing I can do, nothing anybody else can do can help the situation. The Gaza Strip’s border is closed, locking 1.4 million Palestinians in a coastal territory just 27 miles long and 5 miles deep. Food and other basics are running short, reported AP on Sunday. An estimated 200 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with another 200 to 400 million facing discrimination and alienation.
Saudi Arabia: Agreements With Israel Null and Void
(Riyadh Informs Washington that a Palestinian Unity Government under its auspices will not uphold previous Agreements with Israel)
Feb. 6….(DEBKA) The Saudis notified the Bush administration ahead of the Mecca reconciliation summit Tuesday, Feb. 6, that the Palestinian accord for a coalition government sponsored by Riyadh will not meet a key Middle East Quartet condition for its recognition: The new government will not accept past accords, including peace agreements the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed with Israel. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report: The new Palestinian government initiated in Mecca will only “respect” past accords, not accept them. Nonetheless, the US and Europe were expected by Riyadh to lift the international embargo and economic siege imposed on the Hamas government. In a separate missive to President George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, Saudi King Abdullah stated that if the embargo is not lifted, Saudi Arabia will step in with all the funds the new Palestinian administration needs, an approximate annual sum of $1 billion. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources disclose that this promise from Abdullah to Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was the key element paving the way for the Palestinian reconciliation pact to be signed in Mecca Tuesday. The monarch also sent notes to Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Jacques Chirac and British premier Tony Blair. In a flurry of briefings to senior administration officials in Washington, Saudi diplomats are explaining the following: Riyadh has achieved most US foreign policy goals, especially the effective removal of Hamas from high office. The new Palestinian government will be headed by a neutral figure in place of Ismail Haniye and the key portfolios will pass to Fatah or independents. Washington is therefore advised not to make an issue of the Palestinian coalition’s non-recognition of Israel and past peace accords, or of the fact that Hamas will hold a majority in the new cabinet. American officials have not so far reacted to the Saudi initiative. They are waiting to see how the Mecca summit turns out and the application of the documents signed there by Meshaal and Mahmoud Abbas on the ground in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
The Saudi government is ready to go with a huge campaign to sell the Mecca accords in Europe and Israel. It will aim to persuade the European Union to remove its economic embargo against the Palestinian government, without waiting for Washington, while also stirring up domestic pressure in Israel for acceptance of the Mecca agreement and consent to start negotiations with Hamas. The Saudis hope this campaign in Israel will be more effective than the drive for talks with Syria. The Saudi correspondence mentions no strings attached to its economic assistance; there is no mention of any break of Hamas ties with Iran, a stoppage of the flow of Iranian weapons and cash to the Gaza Strip, or the evacuation of Iranian and Hizballah officers. Hamas therefore stands to come away from Mecca in triumph, with a Saudi-endorsed majority in the new Palestinian government, an assured cash flow from Saudi Arabia as well as Iran, and nothing to stop the continuation of military aid from Tehran and Hizballah as their investment in Hamas preparations for war with Israel. Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin planned the rare news conference he held Monday, Feb. 5, as an eye-opener to the negative aspects for Israel of a Palestinian unity government under Saudi auspices. He stressed the depth of Iranian penetration of the Gaza Strip and the peril it posed to Israel’s security. Diskin found it necessary to bring these warnings before the Israeli public after the nation’s policy-makers refused to heed his wake-up call.
Quartet Decides, 'Road Map Still the Best Plan'
Feb. 6….(JNEWSWIRE) The Road Map remains the best solution or bringing an end to the “Palestinian”-Israeli conflict and will be pursued. This was the determination of the Quartet, the international community’s appointed scalpel for dissecting the Land of Israel, during its meeting in Washington last Friday. Convened to kick-start the stalled Gentile land-grab were United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, European Union foreign policy czar Javier Solana, European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Complicating, but by no means discouraging, their efforts were differences of opinion on whether or not to continue the “economic boycott” of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority. Russia proclaimed the pointlessness of doing so but the US insisted it was the only way to go to get the terror group to recognize Israel and abandon violence. Even so, all the parties agreed that a year into their application the sanctions had failed to even budge Hamas from its jihadic path. And in fact, the boycott appears to have done anything but hurt the Palestinian Arabs, with the flow of international aid doubling from $350 million in 2005, before sanctions were imposed, to $700 million in 2006. According to opinion polls frequently conducted among them, most the Arabs benefiting from this aid remain committed to the ultimate destruction of Israel, agreeing it should remain their goal even after they have been given about half of the Jews’ land for a state of their own. Unperturbed by the negative realities, the Quartet announced that a meeting has been scheduled for later this month between Rice, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas aimed at defining "more clearly the political horizon for the Palestinian people" and discussing final-status issues. It is worth noting that the Quartet chose to push ahead with the Road Map despite the fact: That by its own assessment economic sanctions had failed to make a dent on Hamas, which is the “party” that enjoys the most widespread support among the Palestinian Arabs. That Fatah personnel remain committed to employing terrorism to achieve statehood. That Abbas has completely failed to exercise any authority over his people. That the Palestinian Arabs are imploding in internal violence. It is also worth noting that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni praised the Quartet’s conclusions
Truth Emerges in Hamas-Fatah Unity Draft Agreement
Feb. 5….(Arutz) A draft of a new Hamas-Fatah deal reveals the two are in agreement despite Western assumptions that Fatah is a moderate force in the Palestinian Authority. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who has been termed by Israeli and Western leaders as a moderate, agreed to every principle demanded by Hamas. The document, published Monday in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Ukhaz, rejects the United States Road Map peace plan that calls for interim borders for a future PA state. In its current form, the Fatah-Hamas agreement:
• States the objective of a unity government will be the creation of an independent Arab nation with “Jerusalem” as its capital.
• “Continues opposition to the temporary borders and all other solutions that do not fulfill the national legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
• Calls for the “right of return” of millions of Arabs living in other countries who claim Israel as home.
• Demands that Israel’s separation (security) barrier be removed.
• Demands that “all prisoners in Israel be released unconditionally."
Iraq says 50 percent of bombers arrive via Syria
Feb. 5….(Reuters) The Iraqi government reported that half the Sunni Muslim militants behind the bombings shaking the country currently had arrived in Iraq through neighboring Syria. The United States and Iraqi officials have long accused Iraq's neighbors, particularly Syria and Iran, of failing to stop Islamic militants from crossing into Iraq to carry out attacks. US and Iraqi officials say many of the insurgents responsible for the violence are not Iraqis. "We have confirmation that 50 percent of these takfiris and killers who call themselves Arab jihadists come across the Syrian border," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Al Arabiya TV, referring to radical Sunnis whose ideology brands some Muslims as infidels and allows their killing. "Syria closes its eyes to the crossings. As we have said before and we say again today, we are facing a bloody and painful day for us in Iraq as a result of Syria's lack of seriousness in controlling the border." Iraq's Shi'ite-led government on Sunday renewed its pledge to crack down on Saddam Hussein supporters and Sunni militants after a truck bomb killed 135 people in a mainly Shi'ite area of Baghdad in the deadliest single attack since the 2003 invasion. Around 1,000 people have been killed across Iraq in the past week in suicide bombings, shootings and fighting between militants and security forces, according to figures compiled by Reuters from official sources. Syria says it is doing its best to control its border with Iraq. "The Syrian regime has strong intelligence agencies and no bird can fly over the Golan Heights but when it comes to ... the Iraqi border, they say they do not have the equipment or don't have this or that," Dabbagh said. A militant group linked to al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq, vowed in a Web recording on Saturday to widen its attacks to all parts of Iraq rather than focusing on Baghdad. Meanwhile, President Bashar Assad,appearing on ABC television said cooperation and negotiations between Syria and the United States could be the "last chance" to avoid full-scale civil war in Iraq. Assad criticized President Bush, saying his administration does not have the "vision" to bring peace in Iraq. In the interview with Diane Assad praised President Bush's father, saying the elder Bush had the "will to achieve the peace in the region." Assad said Syria could help negotiate among Iraq's factions. "We're not the only player, but we are the main player in this issue," Assad said. "So that's how we can stop the violence."
Hamas & Hezbollah Inflame Tensions Over Temple Mount
Islamic Imam Leads Democrats in
Prayer of Conversion
Feb. 4….(WND) With heads bowed reverently, Democrats were led in prayer yesterday by a Muslim imam who essentially asked Allah to assist in converting the party members to Islam, according to a scholar and author. Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Truth about Muhammad," took note of the prayer given at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting by Husham Al-Husainy, Imam of the Karbala Islamic Education mosque in Dearborn, Mich. According to a transcript of the prayer, the imam said: In the name of God the most merciful, the most compassionate. We thank you, God, to bless us among your creations. We thank you, God, to make us as a great nation. We thank you God, to send us your messages through our father Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Muhammad. Through you, God, we unite. So guide us to the right path. The path of the people you bless, not the path of the people you doom. Help us God to liberate and fill this earth with justice and peace and love and equality. And help us to stop the war and violence, and oppression and occupation. Ameen. Spencer, in a post on his Jihad Watch website, said he found it interesting to see the Muslim leader praying, "in veiled terms to be sure, for their conversion to Islam, and, oh yes, for the destruction of Israel ("And help us to stop the war and violence, and oppression and occupation"). "Imagine if a Christian priest or minister had prayed at a DNC meeting that those attending be guided away from the path of those doomed by God," Spencer said. He explained the imam was echoing the Fatiha, the first sura, or chapter, of the Quran and the most common prayer of Islam. It asks Allah: "Show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favored; not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray." The traditional Islamic understanding is that the "straight path" is Islam, Spencer points out. On the other hand, he continued, the path of those who have earned Allah's anger are the Jews, and those who have gone astray are the Christians. Spencer cited the classic Quranic commentator Ibn Kathir, who says: Allah asserted that the two paths He described here are both misguided when He repeated the negation "not." These two paths are the paths of the Christians and Jews, a fact that the believer should beware of so that he avoids them. The path of the believers is knowledge of the truth and abiding by it. In comparison, the Jews abandoned practicing the religion, while the Christians lost the true knowledge. This is why "anger" descended upon the Jews, while being described as "led astray" is more appropriate of the Christians. Those who know, but avoid implementing the truth, deserve the anger, unlike those who are ignorant. The Christians want to seek the true knowledge, but are unable to find it because they did not seek it from its proper resources. This is why they were led astray. We should also mention that both the Christians and the Jews have earned the anger and are led astray, but the anger is one of the attributes more particular of the Jews. Allah said about the Jews, (Those (Jews) who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath) (5:60). The attribute that the Christians deserve most is that of being led astray, just as Allah said about them, (Who went astray before and who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the right path) (5:77).
US in Proxy War Against Hamas
Feb. 4….(Arutz) The US is assisting and training a growing Fatah army in an effort to defeat the Hamas faction before the militia war in Gaza engulfs the entire population in civil war and anarchy. Documents obtained by Reuters News Agency show that the Bush administration's $86.4 million in aid is going to be used beyond the previously announced objective of strengthening the Presidential Guard, the personal army of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas also controls the National Security Forces, a larger and weaker militia than the elite Presidential Guard. The American aid is meant to help "transform and strengthen elements of the PA's security structure, specifically the National Security Forces and Presidential Guard in an effort to improve public order and fight terror," according to the sensitive but unclassified document. It states that Israel backs the American initiative, which also may cover training and equipping 1,000 Fatah fighters based in Jordan but which would become part of Abbas's forces "in the event of a deployment in Gaza." The assistance does not include giving Abbas weapons, but Egypt and Jordan, using American foreign aid, have supplied Abbas with thousands of rifles and ammunition in addition to Israel's giving arms to the PA during the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s. The National Security Forces includes 40,0000 men and essentially has become a Fatah army, including members who also belong to other terrorist organizations. The American support is conditioned on the basis that those being trained do not have contact with terrorists, but it is not clear how this policy will be carried out. The American government fears that the growing Hamas Executive Force, heavily armed with the help of continued smuggling of weapons from Egypt, will have the upper hand against Fatah. Some analysts have warned that fighting between Hamas and Fatah could turn into a proxy war, with the United States supporting Abbas and Iran backing Hamas.