WEEK OF DECEMBER 3 THROUGH DECEMBER 9
Ahmadinejad: Iran, Arab Gulf Nations Should Unite
Dec. 3….(AP) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian leader to appear before a key group of Persian Gulf nations, telling the US-allied Arab countries on Monday that they should form a regional security pact free of "foreign influence." The Sunni Muslim-led states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates all work closely with the US military and are unlikely to accept Persian, Shiite Iran in America's place. But the mere presence of Ahmadinejad at the Gulf Cooperation Council, a group formed partly to counter the spread of Iran's Islamic revolution, was a powerful Arab acknowledgment of Tehran's rising regional power. "We call for peace and security without any foreign influence," said Ahmadinejad, who was escorted along the red carpet by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Ahmadinejad proposed the "establishment of economical and security pacts and institutions among the seven states" here to "serve the people of our region" and enable "peace and prosperity for all." Ahmadinejad has proposed similar cooperation with Gulf states in the past, but not a formal pact. The Gulf meeting came less than a week after Arab nations attended a US-sponsored Mideast peace summit in Annapolis, Md. The conference was widely seen as an American attempt to unite countries in the region against Iran, which has been greatly strengthened by the US removal of two bitter enemies on its border, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The GCC was established shortly after the outbreak of Iraq-Iran war in 1980 to strengthen Arab sheikdoms and emirates in the Gulf, and also to counter what was perceived as growing Iranian influence across the region. In an apparent attempt to assuage Gulf concerns about Iran's nuclear program, Ahmadinejad invited Gulf leaders to Tehran to discuss his pact proposal, which also calls for unspecified cooperation in the nuclear field and the training of Gulf scientists in Iran. "This will be a huge step toward reinforcing friendly relationship between the states," Ahmadinejad said. "Our cooperation will unite against any foreign influence or injustice, and we will be prepared to make our expertise and knowledge available to regional states," he concluded, adding he hoped the GCC would reach a "breakthrough decision." There are about 40,000 US troops on bases across the Gulf, including Kuwait as a key staging ground for Iraq and an expanding presence in Bahrain as host of the US 5th Fleet headquarters. But many countries in the region, including Bahrain and the Emirates, have deep cultural, historical and business ties to Iran, along with large Shiite populations, and increasingly look to Iran as a crucial source for oil and gas when their own fields begin to dwindle in coming decades.
Bush Administration Washes its Hands of Confrontation with Tehran over its Nuclear Weapons Program
(Israel is left to face the threat alone)
Dec. 3….(DEBKA) In a radical about-face, the White House suddenly (and surprisingly) “discovered” today that Iran had halted it nuclear weapons program four years ago, but has continued to enrich uranium and could have enough material to build a bomb between 2010 and 2015. This discovery appeared in the latest National Intelligence Estimate with the comment that Iran seems less determined to develop nuclear arms than previous believed and more vulnerable to international pressure. Bush’s national security adviser Stephen Hadley said: “The estimate offers ground for hope that the problem can be solved diplomatically without the use of force, as the administration has being trying to do.” DEBKAfile’s sources in Israel reports that; “In effect Washington has taken the military option off the table” at the very moment that Tehran’s Said Jalili slammed the door on diplomacy in a “disastrous” conversation with the EU’s Javier Solana.
* Special Report (MSNBC) Iran halted its nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003 under international pressure but is continuing to enrich uranium, which means it may still be able to develop a weapon between 2010 and 2015, senior US intelligence officials said Monday. That finding, in a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, is a change from two years ago, when US intelligence agencies believed Tehran was determined to develop a nuclear capability and was continuing its weapons development program. It suggests that Iran is susceptible to diplomatic pressure, the official said. "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005," states the unclassified summary of the secret report, released Monday. Officials said the new findings suggest that diplomacy has been effective in containing Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"This is good news in that the US policy coupled with the policies and actions of those who have been our partners appear to have had some success. Iran seems to have been pressured," one of the officials said. "Given that good news, we don't want to relax. We want to keep those pressures up." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record due to the subject's sensitivity. The finding comes at a time of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, which President Bush has labeled part of an "axis of evil," along with ousted President Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea. The halt to active weapons development is one of the key judgments of the latest intelligence estimate on Iran's nuclear program. National Intelligence Estimates represent the most authoritative written judgments of all 16 US spy agencies. Despite the suspension of its weapons program, Tehran may ultimately be difficult to dissuade from developing a nuclear bomb because Iran believes such a weapon would give it leverage to achieve its national security and foreign policy goals, the assessment concluded. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell decided last month that the key judgments of NIEs should as a rule not be declassified and released. The intelligence officials said an exception was made in this case because the last assessment of Iran's nuclear program in 2005 has been influential in public debate about US policy toward Iran and needed to be updated to reflect the latest findings. To develop a nuclear weapon Iran needs a warhead design, a certain amount of fissile material, and a delivery vehicle such as a missile. The intelligence agencies now believe Iran halted design work four years ago and as of mid-2007 had not restarted it. But Iran is continuing enrich uranium for its civilian nuclear reactors. That leaves open the possibility the fissile material could be diverted to covert nuclear sites to make enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb. The amount of fissile material Iran has is closely linked to when it can produce a weapon. Even if the country went all out with present enrichment capability, it is unlikely to have enough until 2010 at the earliest, the officials said. The State Department's Intelligence and Research office believes the earliest likely time it would have enough highly enriched uranium would be 2013. This national intelligence estimate was originally due in the spring of 2007 but was delayed because the agencies wanted more confidence their findings were accurate. At the White House, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said the findings confirm that the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon remains "a serious problem." "The estimate offers grounds for hope that the problem can be solved diplomatically without the use of force as the Administration has been trying to do," Hadley said. "And it suggests that the president has the right strategy: intensified international pressure along with a willingness to negotiate a solution that serves Iranian interests, while ensuring that the world will never have to face a nuclear armed Iran." Hadley added: "The bottom line is this: for that strategy to succeed, the international community has to turn up the pressure on Iran with diplomatic isolation, United Nations sanctions, and with other financial pressure and Iran has to decide it wants to negotiate a solution."
FOJ Note: Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry has always asserted that Iran would escape the nuclear scrutiny and military reprimands of the United States. Bible prophecy indicates that Iran (Persia) will be fully equipped and prepared for the great Magog-Russian invasion against Israel in the Latter Days.
Temple Institute Announces: High Priest's Crown is Ready!
(The Temple Institute in Jerusalem this week announced the completion of the solid gold crown the Bible instructs Israel's high priest to wear while conducting his duties at the Temple, reported Israel National News. The crown took craftsman carefully following descriptions contained in the Bible, Jewish holy texts and various historical sources more than one year to make. )
The Temple Institute in Jerusalem announces the completion of the Tzitz,
the High Priest's headplate - now ready for use in the Holy Temple. The
tzitz is made of pure gold, was fashioned over the course of a more than a
year by the craftsmen of the Temple Institute, and is ready to be worn by the
High Priest in the rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The words "Holy for G-d"
are engraved on the headplate, in accordance with Exodus 28:36. Rabbi Chaim
Richman, International Director of the Temple Institute, explained to Arutz-7
that until it can actually be used, the tzitz will be on view in the
Institute's permanent exhibition display, together with other vessels and
priestly garments fashioned for use in the Holy Temple by the Institute.
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, Director of the Institute, explained some of the Halakhic [Jewish legal] aspects of the fashioning of the vessels for the Temple. "For one thing," he said, "they are made in impurity - for now we are impure, and will remain impure until we are able to have a Red Heifer whose ashes can be used in the Torah-prescribed purification ceremony. If no Red Heifer is available, then the High Priest must even serve in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur in a state of impurity." Asked whether the fact that the vessels are dedicated for the Temple does not render them hekdesh (consecrated) and therefore forbidden for any other use, Rabbi Ariel explained, "There are two stages. First of all, we make it very clear to the donors and to the craftsmen that the ultimate purpose of these vessels is not to be used for exhibitions or the like, but rather for the fulfillment of Torah commandments in the Holy Temple. They must know this in advance. However, to gain the actual status of hekdesh, we similarly make it clear that this does not happen until the vessel is actually brought in to the Temple Mount for use in the Temple. This means that someone can try on and measure the headplate, for example, without worrying that he is benefiting in any way from something that has been consecrated to the Temple."
Menorah Moves Closer to Temple Mount
Rabbi Richman noted that in less than two weeks from now, on Rosh Chodesh Tevet, the famous Menorah (candelabrum) - suitable for use in the Holy Temple, familiar to visitors to the Cardo section of the Old City of Jerusalem - will be relocated to the landing of the wide staircase that leads down from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall. It will be protected inside the same type of glass structure that now houses it. The new tzitz is an improvement on one made several years ago, in that it has a backpiece, in accordance with some commentators and the account of Josephus. In addition, it has a locking mechansim so that it will not slip off the Priest's head, and can be adjusted to fit heads of different sizes. The old one will be preserved, of course as a "spare," in keeping with the Mishnaic account that several models of various vessels were kept in the Temple, in case the need arose to replace one. Asked what project they're working on at present, Rabbi Richman said, "We have begun work on 120 sets of garments for 'regular' priests, not the High Priest. This involves special thread from India, etc. In addition, we have begun work on architectural blueprints for the Third Temple, including cost projection, modern supplies, electricity, plumbing, computers, etc."
Bringing God Into Our World
"At present," Rabbi Richman explained, "people are in despair, and wonder if we're not dreaming futilely while around us our leaders are planning to give the country away. We say to them: It appears that those who went to Annapolis are the dreamers, thinking that their efforts to make peace will succeed, or that the public is with them in their efforts to give away our Jerusalem, our Temple Mount, and other national historic assets." "We are now approaching the holiday of Chanukah," Rabbi Richman continued, "which is the holiday that commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple. We're not just building beautiful vessels; we're interested in granting G-d the dwelling place that He wants in this world; the Temple is not merely a building, but a way of bringing G-d into our lives in a very real way. And that is what we aim to do. This tzitz is God's Chanukah present to us, and our Chanukah gift to the Jewish People."
Putin's Party is Victorious in Parliamentary Elections
(Landslide may Pave way for putting to Consolidate Power)
Vladimir Putin's party won a crushing victory in parliamentary elections, paving the way for the authoritarian leader to remain in control even after he steps down as president.
Dec. 3….(YNET) Sunday's vote followed a tense Kremlin campaign that relied on a combination of persuasion and intimidation to ensure victory for the United Russia party and for Putin, who has used a flood of oil revenues to move his country onto a more assertive position on the global stage. "The vote affirmed the main idea: that Vladimir Putin is the national leader, that the people support his course, and this course will continue," party leader and parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov said after exit polls were announced. Several opposition leaders accused the Kremlin of rigging the vote, and US President George W. Bush's administration called for a probe into voting irregularities. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov called the election "the most irresponsible and dirty" in the post-Soviet era. With ballots from 64.4 percent of precincts counted, United Russia was leading with 62.8 percent, while the Communists trailed with 11.7 percent, the Central Election Commission said. Exit polls seemed to corroborate the partial results. The Kremlin portrayed the election as a plebiscite on Putin's nearly eight years as president, with the promise that a major victory would allow him somehow to remain leader after his second term ends next year. Putin is constitutionally prohibited from running for a third consecutive term, but he clearly wants to stay in power. A movement has sprung up in recent weeks to urge him to become a "national leader," though what duties and powers that would entail are unclear. The Bush administration called on Russia to investigate claims the vote was manipulated. "In the run-up to election day, we expressed our concern regarding the use of state administrative resources in support of United Russia, the bias of the state-owned or influenced media in favor of United Russia, intimidation of political opposition, and the lack of equal opportunity encountered by opposition candidates and parties," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, regarded in the West as the most authoritative election monitor, canceled plans to send observers. Putin claimed the pullout was instigated by the United States to discredit the elections. But the OSCE said Russia delayed granting visas for so long that the organization would have been unable to meaningfully assess election preparations.
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 25 THROUGH DECEMBER 2
Historic UN Vote of November 29
by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
The historic United Nations vote of November 29, 1947, which partitioned the Land of Israel into two states, Jewish and Arab, was dramatically reenacted in the city of Rishon LeTzion on Thursday. Ambassadors of the 33 countries that voted in favor of the 1947 partition were invited to the unique event, as were family members of the ambassadors to the UN from those nations. Among the guests was the grandson of the UN General Assembly chairman who presided over the session, Dr. Oswaldo Aranha of Brazil. The event took place in Rishon LeTzion's new Leaders of the Nation Park, which was officially opened today in conjunction with the November 29 commemoration. President Shimon Peres met separately on Thursday with the families of the Latin American ambassadors who recommended the creation of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel 60 years ago. Peres credited the ambassadors with Israel's creation, saying, "The People of Israel thanks you and your families for your massive contribution on the path to the creation of the state of Israel. If it were not for your support in the UN and the preparations your parents made behind the curtains, we would have been left with nothing, with no state." On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved, 33 to 13, Resolution 181, a partition plan that would have created two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, in what was then the British-controlled Palestine Mandate. According to the resolution, Jerusalem was to be a separate, international city, under UN jurisdiction. The November 29 decision was also a rare instance of the Soviet Union and the United States voting on the same side of a major foreign policy issue, which allowed their satellite nations to vote in favor of partition as well.
Time magazine of December 8 1947, reports that a rabbi who attended the historic UN vote recited from a psalm of praise, "This is the day the Lord hath made, let us be glad and rejoice therein!" As Jews danced in the streets of what was to become the State of Israel, Arab delegates to the UN left the plenum in a huff. They said that their nations rejected the plan and that they were prepared to wage war to prevent partition. According to the 1947 Time magazine article, "All Arab delegations announced that they would boycott the partition plan, have nothing more to do with UN discussions of Palestine." The failure of the British government and the United Nations to implement UN Resolution 181, and an Arab onslaught to strangle the new Jewish entity, led to Israel's War of Independence. As a result of the war, the borders of the new Jewish State were significantly expanded beyond the UN partition lines. Most of the lands that were to have become an Arab state under the terms of the partition, along with Jerusalem, were conquered and incorporated by Jordan and Egypt. Neither of those two states offered to create a Palestinian state in the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza at any time during their 19-year occupations.
'On This Date, the World Received a Gift'
In 1977, the UN
General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40
B). The day is generally marked as a day of mourning in UN circles. This year,
ambassadors from Iran, Syria and Lebanon spoke before the General Assembly as
part of the day's events. Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman also
addressed the international body.
'No Room for Jews'
For its part, the terrorist Hamas organization demanded Thursday that the United Nations rescind its November 29, 1947 partition of British Mandatory Palestine. "Palestine is Arab Islamic land, from the river to the sea, including Jerusalem," the group said. "There is no room in it for the Jews." Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) recently suggested using the UN partition plan to determine contemporary Israeli borders.
US Suspects Pakistan Nukes Wound Up in Syria
Nov. 30….(WASHINGTON Times) The United States is concerned that centrifuges sold to North Korea by Pakistan in the 1990s may have been passed on to Syria or another country, current and former U.S. officials said yesterday. Pakistan has acknowledged that renegade scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan sold North Korea the centrifuges, which the United States suspects were intended for use to enrich uranium for a clandestine nuclear-weapons program. But Pyongyang, which has never admitted to having a uranium-based program, has told US officials that it does not possess the centrifuges, raising doubts whether North Korea will be truthful when it declares its nuclear programs, probably in the next few days. Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator with the North, suggested yesterday that the centrifuges may have been transferred elsewhere. Speaking in Seoul about the uranium program, he referred to "past programs" and the "disposition of equipment." "We need a complete understanding of [highly enriched uranium], of their program, or if it is not an active program, we need a complete understanding of its past programs," Mr. Hill said. "We need an acknowledgement of what went on, an explanation of how it went on, and the disposition of equipment." Officials in Washington said that in examining where the centrifuges might have gone, they are considering exports to a third country, particularly Syria. The administration has been silent about a suspected nuclear-related facility in Syria that was bombed by Israel in September. It has rebuffed numerous questions about it, both from Congress and the press. There are differing opinions within the Bush administration over how to interpret intelligence received in 2002 involving the purchases from Pakistan. Mr. Hill and some others think that the North Koreans were pursuing a uranium-enrichment program when they were confronted by the United States but that it never got off the ground. Other officials suspect the program was up and running. North Korea has acknowledged acquiring some materials such as aluminum tubes that could have been used in a uranium-enrichment program but says they were wanted for other purposes. Mr. Hill, who travels to Pyongyang on Monday, is expected to tell the North Koreans that their declaration will not be credible if it does not account for the centrifuges. Any attempt to cheat on the declaration would stall the hard-won six-nation deal providing energy and other aid to North Korea in exchange for the dismantling of its nuclear programs. "If we have a problem, there may be a tendency for people to pull back," Mr. Hill said yesterday. "It behooves us to have the courage to move forward." China is expected to reconvene the six-party talks next week, and Mr. Hill said the North Koreans are already sharing a draft text of their declaration with the Chinese. "We are continuing to discuss the matter of uranium enrichment, and based on the progress in those discussions, I believe that by the end of the year, we can come to a mutual satisfaction," Mr. Hill said. He said he would discuss the declaration in Pyongyang, "and I hope that in the course of that discussion, we will know what's coming in a draft." Mr. Hill will also visit the North's main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, whose main facilities are being disabled as part of the Oct. 3 agreement.
The United States is concerned that centrifuges sold to North Korea by Pakistan in the 1990s may have been passed on to Syria or another country, current and former U.S. officials said yesterday. Pakistan has acknowledged that renegade scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan sold North Korea the centrifuges, which the United States suspects were intended for use to enrich uranium for a clandestine nuclear-weapons program. But Pyongyang, which has never admitted to having a uranium-based program, has told US officials that it does not possess the centrifuges, raising doubts whether North Korea will be truthful when it declares its nuclear programs, probably in the next few days. Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator with the North, suggested yesterday that the centrifuges may have been transferred elsewhere. Speaking in Seoul about the uranium program, he referred to "past programs" and the "disposition of equipment." "We need a complete understanding of [highly enriched uranium], of their program, or if it is not an active program, we need a complete understanding of its past programs," Mr. Hill said. "We need an acknowledgement of what went on, an explanation of how it went on, and the disposition of equipment." Officials in Washington said that in examining where the centrifuges might have gone, they are considering exports to a third country, particularly Syria. The administration has been silent about a suspected nuclear-related facility in Syria that was bombed by Israel in September. It has rebuffed numerous questions about it, both from Congress and the press. There are differing opinions within the Bush administration over how to interpret intelligence received in 2002 involving the purchases from Pakistan. Mr. Hill and some others think that the North Koreans were pursuing a uranium-enrichment program when they were confronted by the United States but that it never got off the ground. Other officials suspect the program was up and running. North Korea has acknowledged acquiring some materials such as aluminum tubes that could have been used in a uranium-enrichment program but says they were wanted for other purposes. Mr. Hill, who travels to Pyongyang on Monday, is expected to tell the North Koreans that their declaration will not be credible if it does not account for the centrifuges. Any attempt to cheat on the declaration would stall the hard-won six-nation deal providing energy and other aid to North Korea in exchange for the dismantling of its nuclear programs. "If we have a problem, there may be a tendency for people to pull back," Mr. Hill said yesterday. "It behooves us to have the courage to move forward." China is expected to reconvene the six-party talks next week, and Mr. Hill said the North Koreans are already sharing a draft text of their declaration with the Chinese. "We are continuing to discuss the matter of uranium enrichment, and based on the progress in those discussions, I believe that by the end of the year, we can come to a mutual satisfaction," Mr. Hill said. He said he would discuss the declaration in Pyongyang, "and I hope that in the course of that discussion, we will know what's coming in a draft." Mr. Hill will also visit the North's main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, whose main facilities are being disabled as part of the Oct. 3 agreement.
The Road Map (and Bush’s 2-State Solution) is Illegal
international law, nobody has right to hand over land promised to Jews)
80 percent of Palestine is already Arab
Following World War II, the United Nations was established, and its charter includes the decision that national rights (and obligations of other nations that stem from them) that existed based on a League of Nations mandate are valid. This was also confirmed by the International Court of Justice, and was implemented in the case of southwestern Africa (Namibia.) This state of affairs, in terms of international law, was confirmed many times by leading international law scholars. Against this backdrop, we can see that President Bush’s Road Map initiative is illegal, as it espouses the establishment of an Arab state in western Palestine, when 80 percent of Palestine, as it was defined, is already home to an Arab country (Jordan), with more than 20 Arab states already in existence, even though the Arabs argue in all their documents that they are one nation (and therefore deserve one state only.) The Palestine Mandate was granted in the form of a trusteeship that gives its western part to the Jewish people for eternity.
Vatican Backs Palestinians' Right of Return
(Cardinal Renato Martino says 'Palestinian refugees, like all other refugees, have a right to right to return to their homeland')
Nov. 29….(YNET) A senior Vatican cardinal said on Wednesday that all Palestinian refugees had a right to return to their homeland. Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican department that formulates refugee policy, made the comment as US President George W. Bush was set to revive long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at a White House Summit "Palestinian refugees, like all other refugees, have a right to right to return to their homeland," Martino said in response to a question about the 44-nation conference in Annapolis on Tuesday. Martino did not make clear whether he meant refugees had a right to return to homes in what is now Israel or to an eventual Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have pledged to try to forge a peace treaty by the end of 2008 that would create a Palestinian state. The issue of the return of Palestinian refugees, along with the status of Jerusalem, is one of the most sticky issues in a peace treaty. There are some 4.5 million Palestinian refugees in camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Successive Israeli governments have made clear they will not accept the right of return of Palestinians who left homes in what is now Israel, saying it would threaten the existence of the Jewish state, and by mere population shift the state to the control of the Palestinians. Some ministers have said that some Palestinians might be allowed to settle in Israel on humanitarian grounds if a final peace settlement is reached. The Vatican, which sent a delegation to Annapolis, has said it supports a Palestinian homeland as well as Palestinian refugee rights.
Nixon Feared Israeli Nukes would Spur Arms Race
Nov. 29….(New York Times) Israel's alleged possession of nuclear weapons and its potential to set off an arms race in the Middle East were a source of concern to the Nixon administration in 1969, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing newly released documents. "The Israelis, who are one of the few peoples whose survival is genuinely threatened, are probably more likely than almost any other country to actually use their nuclear weapons," Henry Kissinger, who served as President Richard Nixon's national security adviser, warned in a July 19, 1969 memorandum. The US National Archives on Wednesday released documents from the Nixon Presidential Library, according to the Times report. By law, classified documents are to be reviewed for possible release after 25 years. The memoranda reveal the dilemmas with which the administration wrestled vis-a-vis Israel's nuclear weapons program, long considered to be a sore point in the US-Israel alliance. Moreover, it showed concern on the part of Kissinger that Israel may have systematically stolen material from the US for its nuclear development. "This is one program on which the Israelis have persistently deceived us," Kissinger wrote, "and may even have stolen from us." "There is circumstantial evidence that some fissionable material available for Israel's weapons development was illegally obtained from the United States about 1965," Kissinger wrote, dismissing inspections as a possible solution since, "we could never cover all conceivable Israeli hiding places." Kissinger even suggested possibly withholding the sale of Phantom fighter jets to Israel as a way of compelling Jerusalem to yield on the nuclear issue, the Times said. Also during the Nixon era, Jordan's King Hussein sent a secret message to President Richard Nixon in 1970 pleading with him to attack Syria. The King’s request offers harbingers of present-day events, such as concerns about terrorism and Saudi Arabia. A 1973 US diplomatic cable cites this objective: "isolate and undermine terrorisms sic and commandos sic by establishing another, more stable and respectable Palestinian political entity and political personality." Documents detail US efforts to persuade Saudi Arabia to move away from Fatah, the military wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, because US officials believed the PLO was supporting the terrorist-linked, anti-Israel group Black September, referred to as BSO. The Nixon documents release was intended to coincide with Mideast peace summit among Palestinian, Israeli and other Mideast leaders in Maryland. The Nixon Library stated, "We are declassifying the records today that laid the basis for Richard Nixon's decision in 1969 to accept the fact, a fact of life, that Israel had a bomb, a nuclear device," said Naftali. "That, of course, is very important with what's going on in Annapolis." Rather than openly declare itself as a nuclear power, Israel still maintains a strategic ambiguity over its nuclear weapons capability.
(FOJ) Historians have noted that Russia may have covertly instigated the 1967 war as a prelude to attacking Israel’s suspected nuclear facilities at Dimona. Russia’s 67 scheme back-fired as Israel quickly routed its Arab enemies, and negating Russia’s plan to attack Israel from the air. In the decades since, it is obvious that Russia has chosen to help anti-Israel nations become nuclear in order to counter the US ally, example Iran.
Annapolis and Beyond
Nov. 28 ... (ICEJ) The Bush Administration succeeded on Tuesday in
convening a major peace conference in Annapolis to jump-start negotiations that
will seek to wrap up an accord over an interim Palestinian state before Bush
leaves office next year. At the last minute, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas reached a joint understanding on how to
proceed and an intense negotiating process will now ensue with backing from the
international community. Broadly speaking, such efforts at peacemaking are
commendable, since the Bible says we are to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm
34:14). In other words, if left to its natural order, the world tends toward
chaos and violence; peace is never going to come to you, so you must go after
it. Nevertheless, the newly launched Annapolis process is fraught with dangers
for Israel and may lead to anything but peace. For instance, a disgruntled Hamas
is looming on the sidelines and could easily pounce on a temporary Palestinian
state once it is formed and turn it into a permanent terrorist mini-state, as is
now happening in Gaza. The West Bank could have easily fallen into the hands of
the radical Islamist militia already if not for the IDF’s vigilant presence
Iran's Ahmadinejad: Israel will not last
Nov. 28….(AFP) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday predicted that Israel would not survive, as he lashed out at the US-hosted conference seeking to relaunch the Middle East peace process. "It is impossible that the Zionist regime can last," state media quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in a cabinet meeting. "Deterioration is in the nature of this regime as it has been built on aggression, lying, crime and wrongdoing," he added. He said the meeting which united Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Annapolis, Maryland had "failed already and was stillborn. It lacked the cornerstones of effective political work." The Islamic republic -- which has made non-recognition of Israel a cornerstone of its ideology -- was left isolated after its chief regional ally Syria and Saudi Arabia attended Tuesday's meeting. "We regret that some people fell victim to the cursed Zionist regime and they are mistaken if they thought this meeting was an achievement for them or helps reinforce the Zionists," added the president. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly courted controversy by predicting Israel is doomed to disappear, most notoriously calling in 2005 for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map". In an unusual diplomatic move, Ahmadinejad on Sunday chided Saudi King Abdullah in a telephone conversation for taking part in the Middle East peace meeting. Despite sharing no borders, Israel and Iran are the region's two bitterest foes. The tensions have intensified further over the Iranian nuclear programme, which Israel -- the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power -- charges is aimed at making an atomic bomb. Iran insists its atomic drive is peaceful. Israel was an ally of the imperial regime of shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, developing close military and economic ties with Iran until the shah's overthrow in the Islamic revolution of 1979.
President Bush: "A Battle is under way for the Future of the Middle East. "The time is right for Peace!”
Nov. 28….(FOJ) President Bush has rightly stated that the battle is under way for the future of the Middle East. The President is right in his assessment, but he is years late in recognizing the reality of that battle, and that the emphasis of that battle is supernatural. The battle is for the city of Jerusalem, and by proposing to partition the Promised Land, the President has cast his lot with the forces that will eventually exalt the Antichrist. Our President, like so many presidents before him have foolishly done, has placed our nation directly in the path of a jealous God who calls Jerusalem the apple of his eye, and any nation that burdens itself with extracting it from his people will be cut-to-pieces. The future for the Middle East that President Bush is envisioning is a mirage, and will lead to the judgment of the United States. President Bush is seeking to solidify America’s presence in the Middle East and to preserve its economic standing in the world. Bu he is blind to the prophetic word of God Almighty, who is permitting the Israeli-Arab Conflict in connection to the city of Jerusalem being the stone of stumbling, to bring all nations down into the Valley of Decision!
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all
And it shall come
to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy
I will also gather all nations,
And bring them down
to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
Syria Defends Itself Against Iranian Criticism to attend Summit
Nov. 27….(AP) Syria, which came under sharp Iranian criticism for going to the Mideast peace conference, defended its decision to attend, saying Tuesday it was choosing peace and had made strides in previous negotiations. In Iran, several officials and media condemned the US-hosted conference and urged Arab countries not to compromise with the Israelis. Syrian state-run media said the country hoped the conference could bring real peace to the region. Syria is attending the Annapolis, Md., conference "because peace is its choice and because it has made strides in previous negotiations to achieve it," the daily Tishrin said in an editorial. "It added that "Syria, which has a full desire to make peace, is ready to go to the ends of the earth to achieve this objective." Iran's public criticism and Syria's statement seemed to indicate at least some tension between the two allies over the issue, although it is unclear how serious it is. Hossein Shariatmadari, an adviser to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told a pan-Arab daily based in London, Asharq Al-Awsat, that Iran was surprised by Syria's decision to take part in the conference, which is trying to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Iran says that the conference is "a plot against the Palestinians. Syria previously has said it decided to send its deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, to the summit only after the issue of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was added to the agenda. Iran has been sharply critical of the conference, saying it was doomed to fail. But Shariatmadari's comments were the first from Iran that explicitly criticized Syria's decision to participate in the US sponsored conference. US officials are hoping Annapolis could mark a start to moving Syria out of its alliance with Iran and the Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups. Iran insists that "Those who recognize Israel commit treason against Muslims and Palestinians." On Tuesday, Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham called on Arab and Muslim countries not to compromise with Israel at the Annapolis summit. Iran has also urged Muslim countries not to show their support for the Jewish state.
FOJ Note: The Bible indicates that Syria is not among the allies of Magog and Persia in the prophesied invasion against Israel in the Last Days. Damascus is the subject of great speculation in prophecy, as it is slated to be destroyed. The big question pertains to who will act against Damascus. Theories often speculate that either the US or Israel will act against Syria, but as this article reveals, another possibility exists, especially should Syria abandon the Teheran Axis and join the Western peace push.
President Bush Starts the Partitioning Process
Iran: The Uninvited Wildcard in Middle East Talk
Nov. 27….(AP) More than four dozen governments, international organizations and financial institutions will be represented when Middle East talks open in Annapolis today. But it is the uninvited guests, Iran and its allies Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other militant factions, that may have the biggest impact on the peace talks. Containing Iran and its regional influence is the ambitious challenge for all the attendees except Syria, a goal officials from many participating nations contend is as important as producing peace in the Middle East. "Iran will be the 5,000-pound elephant in the room, even though it's not present," said former US peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. "It's in everyone's calculation and motivation, plus the impact of Hamas and the role it can play in wreaking havoc with whatever happens in Annapolis. The balance of power is not in favor of peacemakers but in favor of the troublemakers." Iran's impact on the peace process has grown in direct relation to its political and strategic gains over the past year, particularly on three of Israel’s borders. Hamas, aided and armed by Iran, last year won the most democratic elections ever held in the Arab world and took control of the Palestinian government and parliament. The UN reported recently that Iran has re-armed Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement since its 33-day military showdown with Israel last year. And Syria, Iran's closest Arab ally, has the power to be a spoiler and may have been caught trying to acquire nuclear technology this year. Iran's growing role in Iraq, where its Shiite brethren control the government, has also changed regional dynamics, particularly for the region's Sunni governments that decided to come to Annapolis. "The problem in the Middle East now isn't Israel anymore, or the Israelis, it is Iran. The Arab states believe the peace needs to be resolved, as part of their effort to deal with the problem of Iran." The same is true for the United States. "Over the past year, Washington has come to see the containment of Iran as the primary objective of its Middle East policy. It holds Teheran responsible for the rising violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lebanon's tribulations, and Hamas's intransigence, and senses that the balance of power in the region is shifting toward Iran and its Islamist allies.
‘Unresolved tensions that it can exploit’
The common fear has effectively joined the United States, Israel and Sunni governments behind the goals of promoting peace and containing their common nemesis, experts say. "As long as there is no peace, Iran's influence in the Arab world continues to grow. There are unresolved tensions that it can exploit. Iran has made no secret of its opposition to the meeting since the Arab League agreed Friday to go to Annapolis. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said yesterday that the Annapolis conference would not resolve the 60-year dispute. And Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blasted Arab neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, for agreeing to attend. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said yesterday that any peace agreement would eventually have to include Hamas, since it controls Gaza and half the Palestinian Authority. An agreement signed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders would need ratification by their respective parliaments, and Hamas still controls the Palestinian parliament. "Unless you bring Hamas in tune with what is happening on the peace side, you are really not fulfilling a basic requirement," Faisal said. "One man cannot make peace; not even half a people can make peace," he told a roundtable of US journalists. "There has to be consensus about peace among the Palestinians for this to go smoothly." And then there is Hezbollah in the north.
Russia to Host Post-Annapolis Summit
Nov. 27….(Jerusalem Post) Russia expects to host a follow-up summit to Tuesday's Annapolis conference, focusing on "comprehensive" Middle East peace efforts, a Russian Embassy official here told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. The official said he did not yet know the timing, but that the plan was for Moscow to play host to talks that would "cover all the tracks" relating to a conclusive Israel-Arab peace. He said the United States supported the idea. Olmert added that there were various post-Annapolis meetings planned, a central one of which was the December 17 international donors' gathering in Paris, at which the Palestinian Authority is supposed to produce a plan for improved security in the West Bank, and international partners are to discuss funding for various economic projects to bolster the Palestinians. Olmert praised Quartet envoy Tony Blair for his work in this area, calling him "a great guy, in the right place." He also said Israel would "do our best" to help make a success of the planned economic projects. The Russian official said Moscow had first proposed hosting comprehensive peace talks two years ago, but the idea was now being seriously followed. There had been speculation that Moscow might play host to follow-up talks focused mainly on the Israel-Syria track, given that Annapolis is to be principally concerned with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Indeed, it had been suggested that Syria decided to come to Annapolis only with the explicit guarantee of a subsequent restart of substantive negotiations with Israel. Olmert has said Israel made no promises to the Syrians to encourage them to come to Annapolis, but that it is "right" that they are attending.
Saudi FM Faisal: US will offer "Specific Proposals" to Bridge Gaps
Nov. 27….(Israel Insider) The United States has assured Saudi Arabia that it will offer specific proposals to help the Israelis and Palestinians forge a peace deal, a top Saudi official said on Monday. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that in inviting his country to the Annapolis conference Washington promised to "use its full influence" to ultimately bring about a peace agreement. He said that meant if the two sides could not agree, "we assume the United States will come up with its own ideas." He apparently has good reasons for his assumption. Despite the growing knowledge that Annapolis is a setup for American "suggestions," Israel has welcomed Saudi Arabia's attendance. "We hope this is only the beginning and that we will see greater and broader Arab involvement in the peace process," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. "For this process to succeed, both Arabs and Israelis will have to take bold steps." Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal announced on Friday his decision to attend the conference, but insisted he would not allow theatrics like handshakes with Israeli officials. "The Arab peace follow-up group has decided to accept the invitation to attend the Annapolis Middle East peace conference at a ministerial level to discuss the peace process," al-Faisal said during a news conference at the end of talks of Arab League foreign ministers to coordinate positions ahead of the summit. Olmert, for his part, joked about the handshake issue. "I'm not going to go out of my way to shake hands with someone who isn't interested in it," he said. "I remember that before the summit they said it would be a monumental achievement just to see the Saudis here, so now if we don't canoodle and get an invite to a weekend in Riyadh it's worthless? We have to look at the advantages of having the Saudis attend the conference," Olmert said. "I represent the people of Israel and the State of Israel, a people with a magnificent history, and I will not put that honor up for sale. If someone doesn't want to shake hands with the people of Israel, then I won't make them shake my hand," said Olmert.
President Bush is Gambling America’s Blessings Away!
Nov. 26...(FOJ) The Middle East Peace Summit in Annapolis, Maryland has dire consequences for America. President Bush has acquired the attendance of 49 countries for representation at the Annapolis summit, and almost all of them are openly hostile to Israel. Heck, even some of the invitees made it a prerequisite for attending that they not be coerced to shake hands with the Israeli leaders. Ahead of the summit, oil prices have climbed towards the staggering number of $100 per barrel, $25 higher than a year ago. The dollar has been declining to record lows against many major currencies, enabling the Euro to begin to emerge as the preferred currency. Pakistan is seemingly in the process of shifting from America’s side in the war on terror, and thereby enabling Islamic extremists to acquire nuclear weapons. Foolishly, President Bush is putting his entire administration at direct odds with the prophetic word of God. A Christian ought to know better, if he has acquired any knowledge of Bible prophecy at all, and apparently President Bush is totally misguided in his biblical education at least from a historic perspective. President Bush is insistent on Israel giving up its traditional Biblical lands for a peace agreement with so-called Palestinians, despite a miserable failure of Palestinians electing terrorists to represent them. Albeit, the fact of the matter is that until the Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah-Hamas doomsday threat to Israel’s very existence is fully and finally dealt with, any talk of a final status Israeli-Palestinian peace accord remains myopic at best. The Bible is very clear: Genesis 12:3, “And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you.” Zechariah 12:3, “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
President Bush Commits His Presidency & Clout to Middle East Peace Talks
Nov. 26….(NSNBC) President Bush will lend his clout Monday to help broker an elusive agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on the contours of long-stalled peace talks the two sides expect to relaunch this week at a high-stakes international conference. Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been a priority of a succession of US presidents, and late in his two-term tenure, Bush has made that long-coveted diplomatic victory his goal, too. Bush invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to separate meetings at the White House on Monday to prepare for the centerpiece of his Middle East gathering, an all-day session Tuesday in Annapolis, Md. “I remain personally committed to implementing my vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,” Bush said Sunday in a statement on the international gathering that begins Monday night with a dinner. “The Israelis and Palestinians have waited a long time for this vision to be realized, and I call upon all those gathering in Annapolis this week to redouble their efforts to turn dreams of peace into reality,” he said.
His top priority
President Bush will open the Annapolis conference with a speech. He’ll make clear that Middle East peace is a top priority for the rest of his time in office through January 2009, but he is not expected to advance any of his own ideas on how to achieve that, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said Sunday. “It is now time for the parties to get into this process by way of negotiation,” Hadley told reporters. “And I don’t think the president will conclude that the time is right to start offering ideas on outcomes on specific issues. This is not a negotiation session. It is to launch a negotiation, and for the parties then to take a lead.” Hadley also said the joint statement was not as important as it had initially appeared. The two sides had taken the unexpected step of agreeing to negotiations, so the document was no longer a vehicle necessary to bring them to that point, he said. The run-up to the meeting has been fraught with disputes, skepticism and suspicion about the opposing parties’ good faith. And expectations remain low. But Bush has been buoyed by Arab endorsement of the meeting and the possibilities for broader peacemaking. He will be asked to use his presidential heft to promote a joint blueprint for talks that follow. Clinching a joint statement of objectives from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will prove to be an impossibly tall order because of the charged issues that divide the two sides. On more than one occasion, negotiations have splintered over the key questions of Palestinian statehood, final borders, sovereignty over disputed Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees who lost homes in Israel following its 1948 creation. Still, whatever joint agreement the Israelis and Palestinians present at Annapolis will be a starting point and is likely to sketch only vague bargaining terms. The big questions that have doomed previous peace efforts would come later.
Hamas & Haniyeh: Annapolis Dealings Don’t Mean A Thing
Nov. 26….(Jerusalem Post) Hamas parliamentarians in Gaza signed a petition declaring their opposition to Palestinian "concessions" in Jerusalem and on the refugee issue, Israel Radio reported Monday. "Any settlement that does not include the return of the refugees, Israel's ceding of the land and the holy sites, and the release of the prisoners is ridiculous," Ahmad Baher, deputy chairman of the Palestinian parliament said at the signing of the document. "The attempt to force such a solution led to the second Intifada." Among the signatories was Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. "The people believe that this conference is fruitless and that any recommendations or commitments made in the conference that harm our rights will not be binding for our people," Haniyeh said as he entered the Palestinian parliament building in Gaza. "It will be binding only for those who sign it." The statement affirms the Palestinians' right to uphold the armed struggle against Israel. "It is our prerogative to defend our lands by all possible means. We warn of the deplorable security coordination with the enemy. We call for a unified Arab and Palestinian front. All powers must deploy to combat the aggression against our nation." "The Palestinian people hold the exclusive right to decide its fate in any manner it sees fit, and it owns the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea," the statement reads. The petition ends with an entreaty to the international community to help the Palestinian people. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Monday that Abbas promoted a "failed and dangerous" policy that undermined Palestinian unity. "The Palestinian people's history has not seen a worst era than that of Abbas as president," he said. In Gaza City, Some 2,000 activists from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and smaller groups also opposed to Israel's existence participated in a conference Monday against the US summit. "We believe that with patience, we will change the rules of the game," said Mohammed al-Hindi, an Islamic Jihad leader. "Our jihad and sacrifice will bring us the great victory we are looking for."
Mike Huckabee: America Enslaved to Saudi Oil
Nov. 26….(AP) Consumers are financing both sides in the war on terror because of the actions of US ally Saudi Arabia, Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Sunday. The former Arkansas governor made the comments following what he suggested was a muted response by the Bush administration to a Saudi court's sentence of six months in jail and 200 lashes for a woman who was gang raped. "The United States has been far too involved in sort of looking the other way, not only at the atrocities of human rights and violation of women," Huckabee said on CNN's "Late Edition." "Every time we put our credit card in the gas pump, we're paying so that the Saudis get rich, filthy, obscenely rich, and that money then ends up going to funding madrassas," schools "that train the terrorists," said Huckabee. "America has allowed itself to become enslaved to Saudi oil. It's absurd. It's embarrassing." Huckabee said "I would make the United States energy independent within 10 years and tell the Saudis they can keep their oil just like they can keep their sand, that we won't need either one of them." Responding to the gang rape case in Saudi Arabia, the State Department expressed astonishment about the sentence of the Saudi court against the rape victim. The woman was convicted of being in the car of a man who was not a relative. Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than relatives.
The Ghost of Arafat Lives On
Nov. 26….(FOJ) Yasser Arafat was a tool of the Arab League and the old Soviet Union. He became the founder of modern terrorism, and used his Fatah bloodletting machine to wrangle concession after concession from Israel. His terror-tactics proved all the more successful because the Arab League used its oil leverage against Israel’s main ally, the United States. These tactics continue to be used by the Arab world today, and it is readily apparent by the adoption of the Arab League Peace Plan by President Bush, as he strives to end his presidency with a crowning accomplishment in the creation of a Palestinian State. But, sadly, and unfortunately for the US, President Bush is committing the same mistake as President Clinton before him. In 2000, Clinton pushed every button he could push to appease the anti-Israel cartels in the Middle East. Yasser Arafat made Mr. Clinton look like a fool by walking away from the 2000 Camp David proposals. President Bush has gone even further than Clinton, by including Syria, a member of the Axis of Evil in the Summit. Whatever the outcome of the Annapolis Summit this week, one thing is certain, President Bush, because of his ignorance of Bible Prophecy has placed America squarely under the curse of Jehovah God.
If OPEC Is a Cartel, Why Isn’t It Illegal?
Nov. 26….(In The News) In America, cartels, formal agreements among companies to fix prices and dictate sales rules, are bluntly illegal. But the world’s largest cartel, OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries representing 13 major oil producing nations, is not only recognized as a legal entity, it’s protected by US foreign trade laws. With oil prices careening toward $100 a barrel, some policy makers are wondering why the world community, and the US in particular, doesn’t simply declare OPEC illegal. The idea is not so far fetched. Earlier this year, Congress moved to punish OPEC as an illegal cartel. But the Bush administration has blocked such efforts saying they’ll only incite retaliation and hurt American businesses. In May, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill giving the Justice Department the ability to sue the Middle East-dominated OPEC for collusion and price fixing. A few weeks later the Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive energy bill that included similar anti-OPEC provisions. Now, the House and Senate are trying to finalize that energy bill by year’s end. President Bush, however, has said in no uncertain terms that he’ll veto any energy bill that includes the anti-OPEC language. Such a law would “encourage retaliation against American businesses abroad, discourage job-creating investment in the U.S. economy and injure U.S. relations with other countries,” Allan Hubbard, director of President Bush’s National Economic Council, wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. OPEC countries, which include the biggest producers in the Middle East and Africa as well as Venezuela and Ecuador, produce about 40 percent of the world’s oil will take in some $500 billion in oil revenues this year, according to US government figures. The organization was formed in 1960 to give the producers more control over petroleum prices and production. In the early 1970s, OPEC brought the West to its knees with oil embargoes. But the group lost clout in the late 1990s, when oil prices tumbled. The recent run-up in oil prices has allowed OPEC to reassert itself as a major force in the oil market, experts note. A 1979 US District Court decision held that OPEC’s pricing decisions are essentially "governmental" acts of state, as opposed to "commercial" acts, and thus are beyond the legal reach of US courts thanks to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act of 1976. The bills in Congress seek to overturn this decision. A similar effort in 2005 failed, however, and insiders say resistance from the Bush administration makes success for so-called NOPEC efforts unlikely this time around as well. The Bush administration’s threat to veto this bill is just further proof that the administration favors the international oil cartel over the American consumer,” one congressman told the Associated Press. With crude oil prices soaring more than 3 ½ times since early 2003, Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of Rice University’s Energy Program, notes that it’s obviously in US interest to curb OPEC’s monopoly pricing power on crude. There are several ways of doing that, and lawsuits may not be the most effective way of accomplishing it.
Saving Annapolis by Shifting its Focus to … Iran
Nov. 26….(DEBKA) With only hours to spare, the US organizers of the Middle East conference opening in Annapolis Tuesday decided to make the best of a forlorn event by switching its leitmotif from the intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute to Iran, and its multiple threats to the Middle East. The big star-studded show, the first Middle East conference in seven years, which US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had designed to produce a stunning breakthrough in the intractable Israel-Palestinian conflict, was turning into a flop. There would be no joint Israeli-Palestinian declaration to cap the conference. President George W. Bush therefore downgraded the original agenda and switched his sights to a goal in which many of the 40 plus delegations from a cross-cut of the Arab and Sunni Muslim world shared a common interest
1. Bush hopes to form a united Arab front against Iran. This will be a daunting task in view of at least two obstacles: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia no longer recognizes the US as the single dominant political and military force in the Persian Gulf; and Syrian participation, albeit at the low level of deputy foreign minister. With hindsight, many administration officials consider the invitation to Syria was a mistake.
2. Since Sunday night, administration and Israeli officials have stressed that the conversation Bush has scheduled with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert for Wednesday, the day after the conference, will focus on Iran rather than the Palestinians.
3. The Israeli-Palestinian issue will not be abandoned entirely. The conference is planned to end with a pledge by both parties to use the occasion as starting-point for serious negotiations that should lead to the two-state solution, although President Bush has begun to accept that his vision will not come true before he leaves office.
4. This pledge depends on Olmert remaining in power at the head of the Israeli government. So too does the understanding Washington and Jerusalem have reached on how to handle the Iranian issue. The administration fears that his potential replacements, such as defense minister Ehud Barak or Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu, may run off in pursuit of independent military action to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons program, whereas Olmert is trusted to stand by his commitment to adjust Israel’s steps to those of the US.
A number of White House gestures to single Olmert out for special favors are to be expected for the sake of burnishing the unpopular prime minister flagging prestige at home. In contrast, there has been no official reference to the defense minister’s presence at Annapolis. Both Arabs and the Israelis were looking forward to the president’s opening speech: The former expected Bush to announce he was abandoning his pro-Israel policy and would lean hard on Jerusalem for unprecedented concessions, not only to the Palestinians but also Syria. The latter hoped he would back Israeli stipulations on security issues ahead of borders, refugees and Jerusalem, to reward the Olmert government for its willingness to endorse the president’s aspiration for a Palestinian state. In the event, DEBKAfile’s Washington sources expect Bush’s opening speech to skirt around these questions and devote more words to Iranian threats. This would find an echo with the Arab governments represented at Annapolis, especially Saudi Arabia. Aside from Tehran’s military nuclear aspirations, messages have reached the White House in the last few days in which Iran’s Arab neighbors voice extreme anxiety about Iran’s bullying tactics and their inability to cope with the shifting balance of strength in the region. Iran’s belligerent stance in the face of Washington’s passivity is intimidating the region as a whole and forcing the Arab governments to fall back. Israel’s foreign policy-makers mostly ignore the Gulf. Therefore, they are not alert to the effect of creeping Iranian expansion. The inroads Tehran has begun making in Bahrain, Oman and Abu Dhabi, are cutting deep into American influence in the region. Some symptoms of this trend are visible. First, Tehran has bluntly warned Persian Gulf states of reprisals if they assist a US attack on Iran. Second, Saudi defense minister, Crown Prince Sultan, was in Moscow this week (a visit which the Israeli media ignored) to sign a large arms transaction with Russia and tighten bilateral relations. Sultan’s statements during the visit were a straw in the wind. For the first time, a senior Saudi official called for cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow to halt to what he called the “crazy, illogical and disproportionate” slaughter in Iraq. These were the strongest words condemning US actions in the Middle East since King Abdullah referred to America’s “occupation” of Iraq at the Riyadh conference of March 2007. Third, December 3, five days after the Annapolis conference, five Persian Gulf oil states are due to meet to discuss critical points in their relations with Washington. One is whether to continue to peg oil prices to the fast-sinking US dollar or adopt a currency basket. Although the last OPEC conference dismissed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s demand to detach oil prices from the US dollar, DEBKAfile’s Gulf sources report that Kuwait has already taken that route without waiting for a Gulf or OPEC consensus, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates will be next. All these are signs of waning American influence in the Gulf region. Bush has decided at this late stage to take advantage of the broad Arab presence at Annapolis for an improvised attempt to turn the tide and cut US losses against Iran in the region. But matters may be sliding too fast for a radical remedy to come out of Maryland on Tuesday.
Iran Rebukes Saudi Arabia over Mideast Conference
Nov. 26….(Israel Insider) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chided Saudi Arabia for taking part in a US-hosted Middle East peace meeting, after Arab participation in the event left Tehran isolated, media reported on Monday. Ahmadinejad bluntly told Saudi King Abdullah in a telephone conversation that he wished the kingdom was not attending the conference alongside Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Tuesday in Annapolis near Washington. "I wish the name of Saudi Arabia was not among those attending the Annapolis conference," Ahmadinejad told the king late Sunday, according to state news agency IRNA. "Arab countries should be watchful in the face of the plots and deception of the Zionist enemy," he added. The Islamic republic, which has made non-recognition of Israel one of its main ideological themes, has been left isolated by the attendance at the meeting of its chief regional ally Syria as well as Saudi Arabia. More than a dozen Arab countries are sending representatives. Iraq's presence is not confirmed and the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls Gaza in defiance of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, will also be absent from the talks. "The US government, which is an accomplice to Zionist crimes, cannot play the role of savior by hosting the Annapolis conference," Ahmadinejad told the Saudi king. Saudi Arabia and other Arab states agreed on Friday to attend the conference, in what will be the first time the kingdom will sit at the same table with the Jewish state to discuss Middle East peacemaking. Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also reaffirmed his condemnation of the conference, which he predicted was "doomed to failure". "They hope the conference will help the usurping Zionist regime and save the honor of the Black House," he said in a speech to militia volunteers, in a sarcastic reference to the White House. Tehran's anger over the involvement of Riyadh in the conference is the latest hiccup in relations between Shiite majority Iran and Sunni majority Saudi Arabia. In an apparent bid to stage a counter-meeting, Ahmadinejad has invited the leaders of Palestinian factions to meet in Tehran soon, the Hamas' Iranian representative Abu Ossama Abdul Mata told the Fars news agency. King Abdullah was quoted as saying by IRNA that Riyadh would "never" recognize Israel. The remarks have yet to be confirmed by Saudi official media.
Arabs Seek to Boost Abbas Against Hamas at US Summit
Nov. 26….(Israel Daily) Arab states are heading to a US-sponsored peace meeting on Tuesday in a show of support for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas against Hamas, which remains an unavoidable hurdle to success, analysts say. Arab states including regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia, agreed on Friday at an Arab League meeting in Cairo to attend the Annapolis conference aimed at jump-starting stagnant Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel, have shown the most enthusiasm for the success of the conference hosted by US President George W. Bush in Annapolis, Maryland, on November 27. During a three-way summit in Egypt on Thursday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan’s King Abdullah 2nd and Abbas said they were “optimistic” over the chances of success of the meeting. Abbas urged the foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to seize the “historic opportunity” that the conference provides, despite his admission that talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had failed to reach a joint document for the Annapolis conference. Diplomatic efforts to reactivate the peace process which collapsed at Camp David seven years ago, picked up after Hamas’s shock election victory during the 2006 legislative elections. The win sparked fear among neighboring countries, particularly Egypt and Jordan where Islamist movements form the countries’ strongest opposition groups. “International fears of an expanding Islamist force in the region finally caught up with Cairo, Amman and other Arab countries,” said Emad Gad, an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian file at the Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. “This created a consensus over the need to achieve something which would support Mahmud Abbas and counter Hamas,” he told Agence France-Presse. According to Gad, Saudi Arabia agreed to join the Annapolis talks, though reluctantly, because “it can’t afford the political price of refusing a demand by the United States,” of which Saudi Arabia is a key regional ally. The oil-rich kingdom has never recognized Israel and no senior figure has held public talks with Israeli officials except for meetings at the United Nations and a 1996 international summit on fighting terrorism. “We are not going for handshakes or a display of emotions, we are there only to reach a peace which safeguards Arab interests and safeguards the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said. The Palestinians and Arab allies want a timeline on efforts to resolve the thorniest issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the borders of a future state and the fate of refugees, and they want a deal before the end of Bush’s presidential term in 2009.
Syrian Target was Nuclear Bomb Assembly Factory
Nov. 26….(Israel Insider) Yossi Melman, a respected investigative journalist for Ha Aretz reports that the Israeli air strike in early September may not have been against a nuclear reactor under construction but something more sinister: a facility for a much later stage in the nuclear production process. Melman cites Prof. Uzi Even of Tel Aviv University as being the first to public challenge this assumption. "On the basis of an analysis of the same satellite photos, which have been published in the media and on Web sites and are accessible to everyone, he believes that the structure that was attacked and destroyed was not a nuclear reactor." The target, in the opinion of this former worker in the Dimona nuclear facility and a Knesset member from the Meretz party, an expert in nuclear proliferation, the plant was for a purpose even more ominous. "In my estimation this was something very nasty and vicious, and even more dangerous than a reactor," says Even. "I have no information, only an assessment, but I suspect that it was a plant for processing plutonium, namely a factory for assembling the bomb." In other words, Even believes, "Syria already had several kilograms of plutonium, and it was involved in building a bomb factory (the assembling of one bomb requires about four kilograms of fissionable material)."
Syria Decides to Join Annapolis Summit
Nov. 25...(AP) The Bush administration was able to declare a clean sweep when Syria, the last Arab world holdout, said Sunday it would attend this week's high-stakes Mideast peace conference. Top negotiators awaited a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to finalize details. The White House reacted to Syria's last-minute announcement by trying to keep the focus on the broad list of participants. "We welcome the attendance of so many countries from the region and around the world," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for President Bush's National Security Council. "This large number signals broad support for Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts." As 16 Arab nations and the Arab League prepared to sit down with Israel for the first time in more than a decade, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made it clear they should not expect to dictate the contours of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. League members grudgingly agreed a few days ago to send their foreign ministers to the conference, meant to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after a violent, seven-year lull in negotiations. Most members do not have ties with the Jewish state. Syria had threatened to skip the three-day meetings in Annapolis, Md., and Washington, if they did not address the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed. But with that issue added to the agenda, the deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, will participate, according to Syria's state-run news agency. White House press secretary Dana Perino, however, said the Golan Heights issue is "not specifically on the agenda." Participants can raise various issues, she said. Rice has said the United States would give room for other regional conflicts to be aired at the conference, including the Golan Heights. "If Syria chooses to come and wants to speak to its issues, certainly nobody is going to rule it out of order," she said last week. Nonetheless, the absence of Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem appeared to indicate that Syria was not entirely confident the conference would address its concerns over the territory. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saw the appearance of a high-ranking Syrian official as a positive development. "The meetings are clearly about the Israeli-Palestinian process, but could be the beginning of new avenues to peace in the Middle East," said the prime minister's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin. On the flight to Washington with Livni, Olmert said Israel would "favorably" consider negotiations with Syria if conditions ripened. Israel first wants Syria to break out of Iran's orbit and stop harboring Palestinian and Lebanese militants opposed to Israel's existence. Surveying past peace efforts, Livni suggested that a lack of Arab backing contributed to the failure of the last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks, which collapsed amid bloodshed in early 2001. The Arab world, she said, "should stop sitting on the fence." "There isn't a single Palestinian who can reach an agreement without Arab support," she said. "That's one of the lessons we learned seven years ago." But, Livni added, "it is not the role of the Arab world to define the terms of the negotiations or take part in them." Rice planned to host the top negotiators, Livni and Palestinian envoy Ahmed Qureia, on Sunday evening in an effort to finalize preparations, according to Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo. He hoped to work out a joint document, but said an agreement was not essential because of assurances received in the US invitation to the conference. That invitation, he said, "includes all the terms of reference for the future negotiation" and "confirms that both sides are committed" to putting in place the peace process. "This is enough to launch negotiations after the conference." Arab states had been reluctant to attend the gathering, which starts Monday in Washington. They feared it would give Israel a public-relations boost while yielding little political benefit for the Palestinians. But they decided to come to the first large-scale Arab-Israeli gathering since a 1996 meeting in Egypt. That is largely because they wanted to bolster moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and keep him from making damaging concessions to Israel in talks that are to follow the conference. Abbas has been badly weakened by the Islamic Hamas group's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, which left him in control of just the West Bank. A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said Hamas would have preferred if the Arabs collectively did not go to the conference, but he refused to criticize Syria. "The Syrian leadership is the one to evaluate its own interests, the way it sees fit," he said. The Arab League has proposed offering normalized ties with Israel if the Jewish state cedes all land captured in the 1967 Mideast war and agrees to a solution for Palestinian refugees who lost their homes in Israel following the country's founding in 1948. Israel opposes a complete territorial pullback and the repatriation of Palestinian refugees to Israel. It initially rejected the Arab proposal, first presented in 2002. But over the past year Olmert has said it could be useful in new talks. Ahead of the conference, Israeli and Palestinian delegations were making a last-ditch effort to nail down agreement on where the talks would head after this week. The Palestinians want the joint statement to address, at least in general terms, the central issues of final borders, claims to Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Israel wants a broader and vaguer statement that would allow more room for maneuvering. It says the haggling on those issues should take place in the private talks that are to begin after the conference concludes on Wednesday. "I hope Annapolis will allow the launching of serious negotiations on all the core issues that will lead to a solution of two states for two peoples," Olmert told reporters on the plane. Abbas acknowledged that negotiations on the joint statement were in trouble. "The positions with the Israelis before Annapolis are still far apart, and the negotiations are still ongoing," Abbas said in comments published Sunday in the Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam. Despite the differences, Abbas said he was committed to doing everything possible to hammer out an agreement in the coming year. Both Israel and the U.S. have said they hope to clinch a deal before Bush leaves office in January 2009.
Washington Bows to Saudi-Syrian Terms for Arab League Ministers Attendance of Annapolis Conference and Calm Transition in Lebanon
Nov. 25...(DEBKA) The Bush administration has also promised a follow-up Middle East conference in Moscow next January to be devoted to the Syrian and Lebanese issues. Sunday morning, the first of 40 delegations arrived in Washington. Damascus finally announced its participation Sunday afternoon. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni set out Saturday night. Defense minister Ehud Barak took a separate flight. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian delegation arrived straight from Morocco. Israel and the Palestinians were unable to agree on joint declaration for the conference, which opens Tuesday Nov. 27, in the small historic town in Maryland. Olmert said he welcomes Syria’s participation and will also agree to peace negotiations with Damascus “when the circumstances are right.” Saudi foreign minister Saud al Faisal said Friday, after the Arab League approved its attendance: "We are not going for handshakes or a display of emotions. We are there only to reach a peace which safeguards Arab interests and safeguards the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands." DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report: The Arab League thus accepted Syria’s new demand for land from Israel to include territory, the Shaaba Farms and Ghajar Village, which was previously part of Syria, but later claimed by Hizballah for Lebanon as the pretext for continuing its war on Israel. This demand reopens the UN Security Council’s resolution of 2000, which determined the final Lebanese-Israeli borderline by the common consent of both governments and international endorsement. By this package of concessions, Washington bought a calm transition of power in Beirut, where pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud left the palace quietly Friday night, Nov. 24, without a successor. The parliamentary vote for a new president was postponed until Nov. 30, three days after the Annapolis Middle East conference opens and closes for a week of haggling over a consensual candidate. Hamas is planning a "counter-conference" in Gaza on Monday along with a special effort to mount anti-Israel terror operations. Palestinian protests are being planned for the day of the Annapolis talks which the radicals brand as treason.
Saudis Controlling Bush, Calling Shots at Annapolis Peace Conference?
(Israel recognizes plan calling for exit from Golan, Temple Mount, Jerusalem, West Bank)
Nov. 25...(WND) In exchange for Saudi Arabia attending this week's US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian conference in Annapolis, the Israeli government agreed to recognize the importance of a Saudi-sponsored "peace initiative" in which the Jewish state is called upon to evacuate the strategic Golan Heights, the entire West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, WND has learned. WND obtained a draft Israeli-Palestinian declaration to be presented at the Annapolis conference and to serve as an official outline of a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority . The wording is still being negotiated by both sides, but according to Israeli diplomatic sources, Israel agreed to a Saudi request that the declaration document include reference to a Saudi-backed Arab Peace Initiative, first presented in 2002 and reissued earlier this year at a meeting of the Arab League, an umbrella association of Mideast Arab states. When it was first revealed, the Arab Initiative was heavily criticized by the US and Israel because the text requires the Jewish state to withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and allow for the creation of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, including the evacuation of the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. The Initiative also called for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, strategic mountainous territory that looks down on Israeli population centers and that was twice used by Syria to launch ground invasions into the Jewish state. But now Israel has recognized the Arab Initiative as a precondition for Saudi Arabia to attend the Annapolis summit, according to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem. While Israel doesn't commit itself to the Arab Initiative's requirements, a clause in the current draft of the Israeli-Palestinian declaration slated for the Annaplis conference and obtained by WND reads: "We recognize the critical supporting role of Arab and Muslim states and the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative." The draft declaration is subject to final changes up to Tuesday's summit. Saudi Arabia announced yesterday it would send its foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, to the Annapolis summit after the Arab League decided to back the Israeli-Palestinian conference. Syria has not yet officially decided whether to attend but has made clear it would not send a representative to Annapolis unless the Golan Heights was placed on the agenda. Syria is in a military alliance with Iran and is accused by the US of supporting the insurgency in Iraq and generating instability in Lebanon. Israel says Syria regularly ships Iranian rockets and weaponry to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. The chiefs of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad Palestinian terror groups are based in Damascus. The US extended an invitation to Syria without any preconditions. While many in Washington have high hopes for Annapolis, recent polls here show Israelis are less optimistic. A survey sponsored last week by the Israel Policy Center for Promoting Parliamentary Democracy and Jewish Values in Israeli Public Life found 77 percent of Israelis believe Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lacked the power to prevent attacks from the West Bank. Sixty-one percent of the general Israeli public opposes a withdrawal from most of the West Bank and handing the strategic territory to the Palestinians. If Israel indeed evacuated the West Bank, some 55 percent of Israelis believe Palestinians will use the territory to fire rockets into Jewish population centers, and 65 percent believe there is a high or very high chance Hamas would take control of the area, according to the new poll. Hamas leaders in recent days warned their terror group would take over the West Bank if Israel withdraws.
Annapolis Summit’s Objective to Reinforce America’s Status in Middle East?
Nov. 25...(YNET) Underestimating the Annapolis summit is not a good idea. Indeed, it is completely clear that the event will only slightly advance the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s resolution, if at all. Yet this is not the reason why Condoleezza Rice initiated this brief and multi-participant meeting in the United States. The genuine and major objective of the US Administration is to produce a diplomatic show of force in Annapolis that would make it clear to all elements involved in the Mideast theater, as well as to the audience at home, how robust Washington’s status is in the region and in global politics. The need for such show of force stems from what looks like a decline in America’s status in the international arena as a result of several developments: The blows it sustained in Iraq; the difficulties in curbing Iran’s nuclear project; the threat on Musharraf’s pro-Western regime in Pakistan; radical Islam’s Gaza takeover; and the boost in the Taliban’s position in Afghanistan. America currently needs a show of force that will reunite the pro-Western camp around it and encourage its allies to continue the struggle against radical Islam’s belligerent intention to take over the region, including its oil resources and the nuclear weapons already there. There should be no mistake about it: the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is merely the “rack” on which the US Administration chose to hang its show of support in Annapolis. Maybe because this is the only Mideastern issue where an international consensus exists regarding its resolution (the two-state solution,) or maybe because this is a matter that is important enough and has enough media potential to justify the dispatching of representatives that will at least look like partners to the resolution effort. Those who are absent will not only find themselves off the list of countries which the US engages in dialogue with and takes into account, they will also be condemned as objecting to peace-making efforts in the Middle East. In addition to an overwhelming recognition of its leadership, the Bush Administration is interested in getting three more achievements out of Annapolis: International support for the Road Map outline, presented by Bush; recognition of Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian people’s only legitimate representative (and the rejection of Hamas’ rule in Gaza); and de-facto recognition of Israel’s existence on the part of Arab and Muslim countries that have yet to sign an official peace agreement with it (Arab and Muslim support for the two-state model constitutes, in practice, recognition of the State of Israel, even if indirect; a sort of reaffirmation of the 1947 United Nations decision on the occasion of the Jewish state’s 60th anniversary). All of the above should not be underestimated. Israel should be interested in boosting Washington’s status in the region as well as the accompanying achievements, which may appear minor but constitute additional steps on the long journey in the right direction and avoiding apocalyptic assessments for the region as noted by many intelligence officials.
Fear Exposed: Iran Poised to Destabilize Lebanon
(Tehran, Syria slam Annapolis on verge of peace conference)
Nov. 25...(Jerome R. Corsi) With the Annapolis summit scheduled to begin Tuesday, top Israeli government policy officials have expressed concerns that Iran is on the brink of destabilizing Lebanon. At issue is the stalemate over selecting a new president to succeed President Emil Lahoud, whose term expired last week. On Friday, Hezbollah blocked another parliamentary vote for a new president, forcing the US-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to exert emergency powers and assume the powers of the presidency. Today, Syria's foreign ministry announced a decision to send a low level representation to the Summit. To underscore Syria's continued close relationship with Iran, Syria's President Bashar Assad allowed Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to publish in an Iranian report in which the two leaders affirmed their support for the creation of a Palestinian state. In a comment designed to undermine the Annapolis conference, the IRNA reported, "Only the real representatives of the Palestinian nation are eligible to decide their own destiny, said the two presidents." The report ended stressing, "The two presidents underlined that the upcoming Annapolis conference is doomed to failure." Israeli officials are concerned no solution can be reached over the formation of a Palestinian state as long Iran continues to pursue uranium enrichment in open defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council. Hezbollah owes its origin to spiritual leader Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, who got the inspiration to create the Hezbollah from Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s, when Fadlallah studied under Khomeini while the two were in exile in Najaf, Iraq. Iran currently funds both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza, even though Hamas is a Sunni organization that owes its origin to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In Lebanon, Hezbollah supports the candidacy of Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian politician who has reversed his previous anti-Syrian position to support Syria, after Syria withdrew its military from Lebanon in 2005, in the wake of Syrian involvement in the assassination of Lebanon former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Now, Aoun openly supports Hezbollah, defying the anti-Syrian majority in Lebanon's population, as reflected in the parliamentary alliance that created the Siniora government in Parliament. Within the next week or so, we'll know whether Iran (acting through proxies in Beirut) will trigger a new civil war in Lebanon." Hezbollah deputy leader Sheik Naim Kassam asserted last week the Siniora government has no right to assume the powers of the presidency. "This government is illegitimate and unconstitutional," Kassam said. The Amal Movement, founded in 1975 by Iranian-born Lebanese Shi'a religious leader Musa al-Sadr, formed an important militia in the Lebanese Civil War. In the Lebanese Civil War in the 1980s, Amal embraced the support of Syria in a campaign against Palestinian refugees in what became known as the "War of the Camps" and attacked Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut. Taheri noted a win for Iran in the selection of Lebanon's next president would confirm Ahmadinejad's claim that the United States is already preparing the "last helicopter" to flee from Iraq the moment a successor is chosen to President Bush. Ahmadinejad's "last helicopter" reference is drawn to the fall of Saigon and the famous photograph taken by Dutch UPI photographer Hubert van Es on April 19, 2005, showing Vietnamese civilians desperately trying to board an American helicopter on an apartment roof.
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 19 THROUGH NOVEMBER 25
Lebanese Tensions Rise Amid Power Vacuum
Nov. 24...(AP) President Emile Lahoud said Friday that Lebanon is in a "state of emergency" and ordered the army to take over security powers, hours before he was stepping down without a successor and leaving a political vacuum in the divided country. The pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora rejected the move, raising tensions. The announcement by the pro-Syrian president immediately raised further confusion amid Lebanon's political turmoil, which many fear could explode into violence between supporters of the government and the opposition. The president cannot declare a state of emergency without approval from the government, but Lahoud's spokesman said Saniora's government is considered unconstitutional. "The president of the republic declares that because a state of emergency exists all over the land as of Nov. 24, 2007, the army is instructed to preserve security all over the Lebanese territory and places all the armed forces at its disposal," presidential spokesman Rafik Shalala said. The statement instructed the army "to submit the measures it takes to the Cabinet once there is one that is constitutional," he said. Saniora's government rejected the announcement. "It has no value and is unconstitutional and consequently it is considered as if it was not issued," said a government spokesman, who asked not to be identified because an official announcement has not yet been made by the prime minister. The spokesman said the constitution stipulates that the Cabinet, not the president, has the authority to declare a state or emergency and to give the army the authority to take over security. "Any decision not issued by the Cabinet has no constitutional value," the spokesman told The Associated Press. The army command refused to comment on the developments. The military had already been on alert for several days, deploying hundreds of troops in tanks, armored personnel carriers and jeeps along intersections leading to Beirut and around the downtown area where the parliament building is located. The city was normal throughout the day, but traffic was lighter than usual, and most schools were closed. Lahoud was still expected to step down when his term ends at midnight Friday. Both sides had been counting on the military to ensure calm in the political chaos, and it was unclear if Lahoud's announcement would give the military any powers beyond security measures. But his talk of a "state of emergency" raised already high tempers as both sides enter a new phase of trying to find a new president for the country. Parliament made a final attempt Friday afternoon to convene to vote on a president before Lahoud leaves office. But the opposition, led by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, boycotted the session, preventing it from reaching the necessary two-thirds quorum. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is aligned with the opposition, scheduled another session for Nov. 30 to give the factions more time to try to find a compromise candidate - which they have failed to do in weeks of talks mediated by France's foreign minister and other international officials. Leaders from each side were pledging not to take steps to provoke the other - though Lahoud's announcement raises the heat. "We have no choice but to have a consensus," Saad Hariri, leader of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, said after the failed session. "It is not in Lebanon's interest that the (presidential) palace is left empty." The presidency is the latest front in the power struggle between the anti-Syrian coalition that holds a slim majority in parliament and the opposition, led by Syria and Iran's ally, Hezbollah. The anti-Syrians have tried to put one of their own in the presidency to replace Lahoud, a staunch ally of Damascus, but have been blocked by opposition boycotts of the legislature. "Discussions should continue aimed at electing, as quickly as possible and according to the constitution and to democratic principles, a new Lebanese president who will stand for Lebanon's independence and sovereignty and uphold international resolutions," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. "The United States and its allies will not waver in our support for the people of Lebanon as they defend their freedom against all attempts at foreign interference and intimidation," he said. Much of what happens next in Lebanon, a battleground between the West and the Syria-Iran axis, may depend in part on Tuesday's US-sponsored Mideast peace conference. Syria has not formally decided whether to go to Annapolis, Md., but it likely will. Government supporters have accused Syria of using its allies in Lebanon to block a deal on the presidency until it sees what it gets in the conference. Damascus wants Annapolis to address its demands for the return of the Israeli-held Golan Heights.
Annapolis - 60 Years to the day After Partition
Nov. 23...(Stan Goodenough) On Jewish calendar date 17 Kislev 5708 (the evening of November 29, 1947 in Israel), 46 countries voted on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 - the proposal to partition the Land of Israel (known then as Palestine) into two states, one Jewish, the other Arab. Thirty-three voted in favor, 13 voted against. The Arabs rejected the outcome, immediately initiating hostilities that erupted into the War of Independence after Israel was established and recognized internationally six months later. Next week, on 17 Kislev 5768, 60 years to the day after that UN vote, nearly 50 nations have been invited to Annapolis for the US-hosted International Conference on the Creation of Palestine, an Arab state the international community wants to see erected on the biblical heartland of the Jewish people. Of these nations, only 15 are Arab states. Included among the rest are France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Sweden, Norway, South Africa and India. Observers have noted that this will indeed be a gathering of the nations of the world in a united stand against the rights of the Jews to their sacred soil. The international community is virtually single-minded on this issue: the theft of Jewish lands for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Not a single invited national representative nor journalist is expected to challenge this position at Annapolis on Tuesday.
PA Negotiator: Go Back to 1947 Partition Plan
Nov. 23...(IsraelNN.com) In the course of recent negotiations, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asked the head of the Palestinian Authority's negotiating team, Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), to accept Israel as a Jewish state, reminding him that it was accepted as such by UN Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947, for the partition of the Land of Israel. According to Ahmed Tibi, a member of Israel's Knesset who used to be an aide to PLO founder Yasser Arafat, Abu Ala answered: "let us implement [Resolution] 181 first and we shall talk." Tibi recorded the exchange in an article he wrote for Arab newspaper Kul el-Arab. Amru Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League said late Thursday night that the Arab countries will not offer Israel "normalization for free." "There is no such thing as normalization for free," Moussa told reporters after a meeting of 11 Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo. The Arab League countries were invited by the US to participate in the Annapolis summit next week. "Arabs are going to participate in the (Annapolis) meeting, to show support for the Palestinians, based on the Arab peace initiative," he explained.
UN Partition Plan, 1947 (Resolution 181)
The 1947 UN Resolution 181 delineated a two state solution for Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan river. Both states were to be joined by an economic union and share joint currency. The resolution declared that Arabs and Jews would become "citizens of the State in which they are resident and enjoy full civil and political rights" and that Arabs living in the Jewish state could opt, within one year from the date of the resolution's implementation, for citizenship of the Arab state, and Jews living in the Arab state could opt for citizenship of the Jewish state. The City of Jerusalem was to be demilitarized and placed under a special international regime.
Demilitarized Jerusalem Under the UN
The Jewish State was to receive the eastern Galilee from the Hulah Basin and the Sea of Galilee in the northeast to the crest of the Gilboa mountains in the south. The Jewish section of the coastal plain "extends from a point between Minat El-Qila and Nabi Yunis in the Gaza Sub-District and includes the towns of Haifa and Tel-Aviv, leaving Jaffa as an enclave of the Arab State." The Jews were also to receive the Negev area, but without the city of Beersheva, and a strip of land along the Dead Sea. The City of Jerusalem was to be demilitarized and placed under a special international regime, to be administered by the United Nations through a "trusteeship council." The Arab leadership refused to accept the partition plan in 1947 and opted, instead, for military annihilation of the Jews. Their plan failed and the State of Israel was born, with the Jews carving out a more favorable map for themselves by military means.
Saudi Foreign Minister Will Attend Annapolis
(Following Arab League meeting in Cairo Friday, Minister al-Faisal declares his country will attend US-sponsored Mideast peace conference, but that he will not allow 'theatrics' like handshakes with Israeli officials)
Nov. 23...(YNET) Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said Friday he will attend next week's US-sponsored Middle East peace conference but insisted he would not allow "theatrics" like handshakes with Israeli officials, saying the gathering must make serious progress. Participation by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was a key goal of the United States to show strong Arab support for the conference, due to be held in Annapolis, Maryland. Until Friday, the kingdom had balked at saying whether it would attend and at what level, seeking assurances Israel would commit to serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
A senior Arab diplomat said Friday that the Arab League would demand that the US include a discussion on the future of the Golan Heights in the Annapolis peace conference, so as to enable Syria to participate. The diplomat's remarks came at the end of an informal gathering of some 11 Arab foreign ministers at Arab League headquarters in Cairo ahead of a key league meeting to hammer out a unified Arab position for the Annapolis conference. He added that Syria would attend the summit if the US complied with this demand. Asked whether the Americans have responded on the matter, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said, "We are still waiting." Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said, "Arabs are going to participate in the Annapolis meeting, to show support for the Palestinians in accordance with the Arab peace initiative." Still unclear, however, was whether Syria would send its foreign minister. Syria has insisted Annapolis must address its demands for the return of the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Al-Faisal told a press conference that an Arab League meeting Friday had decided that Arab countries will attend Annapolis at the level of foreign minister. "I'm not hiding any secret about the Saudi position. We were reluctant until today. And if not for the Arab consensus we felt today, we would not have decided to go," al-Faisal said. "But the kingdom would never stand against an Arab consensus, as long as the Arab position has agreed on attending, the kingdom will walk along with its brothers in one line." But he cautioned, "We are not prepared to take part in a theatrical show, in handshakes and meeting that don't express political positions. We are going with seriousness and we work on the same seriousness and credibility."
Russian President Putin Lashes out at US and West
Nov. 21...(AP) President Vladimir Putin likened his critics to "jackals" fed by foreign funding, and he accused the West of meddling in Russian politics, telling a campaign rally that foes at home and abroad want to weaken the country. Putin is seeking to secure a high turnout in parliamentary elections on Dec. 2 and strong support for the main pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, which he is leading on the ballot, a move widely seen as a maneuver to hold onto power after he steps down next year. Addressing thousands of backers in an event that mixed the flavors of a US political convention and a Soviet-era Communist Party congress, Putin painted a grim picture of the turmoil in the 1990s in Russia and suggested that his Western-backed political foes were bent on turning the clock back. "Those who confront us need a weak and ill Russian state. They want to have a divided society, in order to do their deeds behind our backs," he said. A strong United Russia majority in parliament was needed to preserve his course, he said. "Regrettably, there are those inside the country who feed off foreign embassies like jackals and count on support of foreign funds and governments, and not their own people," Putin said. "Now, they're going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in ex-Soviet republics. And now they are going to stage provocations here," he said, raising the specter of the upheavals that brought Western-oriented leaders to power in Georgia and Ukraine. The comments constituted Putin's fiercest verbal attack on opponents ahead of the election, which the popular leader has turned into a referendum on his policies by announcing last month that he would lead United Russia. The move appeared aimed at securing a strong parliamentary majority for United Russia, which is far less popular than the president himself, and providing Putin, who is barred from seeking a third straight term in March presidential elections, with a powerful lever to maintain influence after he steps down. "The vote on Dec. 2 will to large extent determine the fate of the country. An overwhelming victory for the party, which is expected given the Kremlin's tight control over the political system, would hand Putin a popular mandate and a loyal parliament to limit the clout of his successor, and possibly lay the groundwork for a return to the presidency in 2012 or sooner. Putin, whose eight years in power have brought an oil-fueled economic revival, has repeatedly raised the demeaning specter of Western influence, suggesting that Russia has gotten up off its knees after a humiliating period in the 1990s and that foreign governments are frightened by its resurgence. Many supporters of Putin have called for constitutional changes allowing him to remain president. Putin has vowed to step down, but indicated he would seek to maintain influence, though he has not said how or in what role, and he has not ruled out a presidential bid in 2012. Putin has left it unclear just what role he will play and how he will seek to retain clout. But the calls for him to stay bolster his position by suggesting the people want him to remain in power.
Oil Prices Reach $100 a Barrel
Nov. 21...(My Way) Crude oil prices rose to a new record above $99 a barrel Wednesday, lifted by worries about inadequate supplies as the Northern Hemisphere enters winter and on news of refinery problems. The declining US dollar and speculation that the Federal Reserve will again cut interest rates also boosted oil prices. (higher oil prices mean more profits for OPEC and Russia) Light, sweet crude for January delivery rose as high as $99.29 a barrel in electronic trading after the New York Mercantile Exchange closed, breaking the previous intraday record of $98.62 on Nov. 7. Investors are anxious that as global demand for energy grows, fueled by China and India's rapid development, oil supplies won't be able to keep up. Currently, oil producers are turning out about 85 million barrels a day, while the US Department of Energy says consumption is between 85 million and 86 million barrels a day. "The long-term underlying trend is that demand is powering forward and the supply situation looks tight," said Jeff Brown, managing director and chief economist at FACTS Global Energy in Singapore. When the US dollar hit a record low recently, oil also surged ahead. It has been an inverse relationship, and one that is being fed by antagonists of America, such as Iran and Venezuela.
US Thrust for Two-State Solution is Ultimate in Appeasement
Nov. 21...(FOJ) The success of the Annapolis conference will hinge on the launch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a Palestinian state, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today. "The success of this meeting is really in the launch of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians for the establishment of a Palestinian state and therefore a two-state solution," Rice told reporters. The United States in May 1948, under President Harry Truman granted immediate diplomatic recognition to the news state of Israel, thus enabling the fledgling nation to survive among the beasts of the Middle East. However, ever since the US has been experiencing second thoughts as it has found itself being blackmailed by proponents of terrorism and diplomatically strong-armed by oil-rich Arab nations that realized the US was addicted to oil. While many attempts have been made by American leaders to forge a successful peace process between the Israeli’s and the Arabs, in order to strengthen the pax-Americana interests in the region, the land-for-peace formula has only resulted in terrorism coming to America’s own shores. It is no small irony that the terrorism that plagued Israel came to America’s shores, because the Bible plainly says that God will "bless those nations that bless Israel" and bring a curse on those nations that curse Israel. Through its politically correct act of appeasing the Arab world at Anapolis, Maryland next week, by effecting the creation of a brand new Palestinian State in the Holy Land, the US is blindly rewarding the old troubadours of terror. The Fatah organization that the Bush Administration is strengthening to receive the new statehood charter is the same old blood-letting group that orchestrated the terror machine of Yasser Arafat for decades. Ironically, as the US attempts to appease its oil masters, it also finds its almighty dollar being devalued.
Putting the 'Thanks' Into Thanksgiving
Nov. 21...(Greg Laurie) The first Thanksgiving, during which the Pilgrim colonists feasted with their Indian guests, lasted three days. Sometimes with all the eating and watching sports, we forget what Thanksgiving is all about. We have so much to be thankful for in America today. You might say, "Well, not me! I am having a really rough time right now!" That may be true, but let me help you put things in a little perspective. Someone wrote, "If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, then you are more blessed than the million who will not live through this week. "If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. "If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, then you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world. "If you have money in the bank, cash in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8 percent of the world's wealthy." Again, we have much to be thankful for. And when you get down to it, this is why we primarily exist: To give thanks to God – not just on Thanksgiving Day – but every day of our lives. The Bible says to us as believers: "Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 106:1). And in the New Testament we are urged: "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Hebrews 13:15). A sacrifice of praise? Yes, praise, worship and giving thanks to God can sometimes be a sacrifice, because we simply don't want to, or don't feel like it. We may be down or depressed or dealing with some tough issues at the time. Maybe hardship or tragedy has visited your home, and you just don't have the heart to say thank you to God.
But it's interesting: The Bible doesn't say, "Give thanks to the Lord when you feel good," but rather because "He is good!" The Gospel of Luke gives us the account of 10 men who were miraculously touched by Jesus. These men were lepers, and at the time, you couldn't get any lower in life than that. They were complete outcasts, the very scourge of society. Yet Jesus went out of His way to touch and heal them of this dread disease. But after these men had been healed, only one returned and gave thanks to God. In response, Jesus asked a probing question that He perhaps is still asking today. He said, "Were there not 10 cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" The nine who had walked away unthankful were men of Jesus' own country, Israel. The one man who remembered to return and give praise to God was a Samaritan, despised by the Jewish people of that day. Even so, when this Samaritan leper was healed, he knew in his heart he had to do something. This man who might have been considered the very worst of this group of diseased men had more spiritual insight than the others who should have known better. He saw the importance of remembering to thank God for the answers to prayer, and recognized that "to whom much is given much is required." What does that say to me? Just this. In approaching God to ask for new blessings, We should never forget to return thanks for the many blessings already given! One of the reasons we are to give thanks is because as we remind ourselves of God's power, kindness and faithfulness to us through the years, it bolsters our faith. Giving thanks may not immediately lift us out of our circumstances, but it can lift us above them, so that we are no longer under their control. And as we think about the many answers to prayer we've already received, our faith grows bolder and bolder. We are reminded in the depths of our soul that "Nothing is too hard for the Lord!" Three things will help me remember to give God thanks this year. First, I must realize that as a Christian, God is in control of all circumstances surrounding my life, both good and bad. The Bible tells us, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Second, I must realize that God loves me and is always looking out for my benefit, both in this life and in the life to come. Again, Scripture says, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17). Finally, We must realize God is wiser than we are. He is always dealing with us for our best eternal good. I always want what's best for my immediate good, but what immediately seems good is not always eternally good. Have you taken the time to give thanks to God for what He has done for you? The fact is God loves you and has a plan for your life. But we are all separated from Him by our sin. Yet God loved us so much He sent His Son to die on the cross for us. If we will turn from our sin and ask Christ into our lives, we can be forgiven! Jesus says, "Come unto Me all of you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Come to Jesus this year, and you will have a blessed Christmas season like never before.
(FOJ) Have A Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and Keep Focusing on Jerusalem, because the King is Coming soon!
One Day All Hell Will Break Loose
Nov. 21...(In The News/Bradley Antolovich) “Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.”
Jeremiah 31:10-11 (Israel in the Last Days) “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.”(Zechariah 12:2)
In just a few days, on November 27th once again world leaders will gather together in the name of peace, this time in Annapolis, Maryland. Their goal, as in previous peace summits is the impossible, to finally bring and end to the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This time however, the stakes are higher. With the declaration of the State of Palestine pending the “Road Map’s” destination is now coming into full view, so also is also the destruction of Israel. After all, the road map’s goal is the establishment of a Palestinian State defined by per-1967 borders (including all of Judea and Samaria), with (East) Jerusalem as its capitol. Thus, the long awaited death blow to Israel is within site by dividing the Land in half which is in line with the not so hidden Pan-Arab agenda of re-conquering all of Arab “occupied” land through Jihad. Perhaps the old wartime adage of “divide then conquer” has never been more relevant as it is in our time concerning Satan’s plans for the destruction of Israel. It is inconceivable to me, that in just a mater of days from now, that the nation of Palestine may be declared, with Al-Qudes (Jerusalem) as the capitol on God’s Holy Land, with almost no reaction or blink from the rest of the world. The media of course is content to sit quietly and idol until that faithful day, meanwhile most folks hardly even take notice to what catastrophe is looming that will invariably change the course of World History. Most people I talk with here in Switzerland have not even heard that there is another peace initiative, and ask where is Annapolis? There was never a century like the last one as the nations tried many times to divide God’s Land. Since 1916, there have been numerous partition plans, most with the consent of the Israeli government. It appears the pressure will continue for Israel to make more painful Land concessions until finally the Antichrist is reveled. Then he will divide Israel among his followers as a reward (Daniel 11:39). God will then step in and judge the nations who came against His Land. Paul the apostle warned the Thessalonians concerning the futility of peace agreements with Israel.. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, But, what is even more shocking to me is that the silence of the Church and pro-Israel Christians who are seemingly in agreement and going right along with this evil plan leading to the destruction of Israel. Well, if Mr. Bush says it’s good, it must be right? Where are the protests? Where are the demonstrations? Where are the voices crying in the wilderness? Where is the voice of the religious Jews? Why are the Church leaders not warning their flocks of the impending danger? Perhaps they are busy preparing for another prophecy conference? The silence of the church is a clear message of approval to the global ringleaders of this pending historic catastrophe. As Hitler interpreted the silence from the West as a green light after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, he could thus continue his attack into Eastern Europe without much resistance. The truth is that many Christians want to convince themselves that the establishment of the state of Palestine must be the will of God. After all, were all told that there is no other option for peace. “This is a just and comprehensible solution two States living side by side in peace and security, (Blah, blah, blah).. And so we close our eyes and cross our fingers and believe that Palestine is inevitable and it’s for the good of the world peace. Thus we ourselves are seduced into the grand deception that maybe, just maybe this time there will finally be peace in the Middle East, even at all costs (for Israel).
Bush Administration Invites More than 40 Nations to Annapolis
(White House issues formal invitations to peace conference despite admitting it likely
won't result in steadfast results)
Nov. 21...(AP) The United States issued formal invitations to some 40 nations and organizations on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming Anapolis peace conference. Officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah confirmed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had received their invites. The list of confirmed invitees also includes the Arab League and Arab countries such as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Kuwait, Iraq, Libya, Mauritania, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Members of the international diplomatic quartet have also been given invitations. These include the UN, The EU, Russia, and Mideast envoy Tony Blair. Other countries who may attend the conference are France, Germany, Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy, China, Norway, Turkey, Vatican, Brazil and Australia. The US State Department confirmed the invitations had been sent out for next week's conference, though no agenda has been set and no schedule has been released for the meetings, which the US hope will kick-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said US ambassadors around the world had received a detailed list of instructions for issuing the invitations, which were extended to countries involved in the peace process, Arab nations and organizations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The White House has said President George W. Bush will attend at least part of the event. What you are going to have, however, we hope, is a discussion of the core issues, the substantive issues that can get the Palestinians and the Israelis to a place where they can have negotiations to get to the two-state solution to," she said.
US Issues Formal Invitations to Mideast Conference
Nov. 21... President George W. Bush issued formal invitations on Tuesday to the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis next week, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. The November 27 conference in Annapolis, Maryland is intended to relaunch negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with a view to reaching an agreement on establishing a Palestinian state, possibly before Bush steps down in 14 months. But officials from the two sides and US diplomats working closely with them have yet to produce even an agreement on roughly how such negotiations, the first in seven years, are likely to proceed following the conference next Tuesday. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will attend, along with representatives of other governments. US officials are still trying to persuade Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Syria which have no formal ties with Israel, to send delegates. Abbas is pushing for a clear deadline for establishing a Palestinian state while Israel says any final deal must be conditional on guarantees of security for the Jewish state. Both sides have reaffirmed their commitments to the 2003 "road map" for peace sponsored by Washington, which obliges Palestinians to act immediately to rein in militants who attack Israel and Israel to stop Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Annapolis is likely to see more affirmations of those goals, although Israel remains skeptical of Abbas's ability to provide security, notably since his forces lost control of the Gaza Strip in June to the Hamas Islamist movement. Washington is pushing hard for an agreement on a paper, seeking to ensure the participation in Annapolis of key Arab states, including Saudi Arabia. Arab foreign ministers will meet in Cairo starting tommorrow to consider a joint position with Abbas. Wider Arab support will give Abbas some cover from his Palestinian critics like Hamas. Hope of improved relations with Arab states is one of the key incentives for Israel to negotiate. Olmert traveled to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday for talks with President Hosni Mubarak. Hosni Mubarak is considered a key to including Syria in the Anapolis conference.
Overriding IDF and Shin Bet Objections, Olmert Approves Arming Palestinian Forces with 50 Russian APCs, Rifles and Ammo
Nov. 21...(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the armored personnel carriers which can carry 10 fighters were promised Mahmoud Abbas by Russian president Vladimir Putin. Whichever of the models supplied, the BTR-60PB, BTR-70 or BTR-80, these combat vehicles are armed with turret heavy machine gun mounts designed to hit ground and low-flying air targets. The 14.5-mm large caliber KPVT machine guns and coaxial 7.62-mm PKT machine gun, with a traverse of 360 degrees, mounted on each turret, make this APC a highly mobile anti-air unit for attacking low-flying targets at a range of up to 2,000 meters. DEBKAfile reports the IDF and security service fear their presence will seriously hamper Israel’s regular counter-terror activities with helicopter support, which have kept the country relatively secure in recent years by thwarting Palestinian suicide incursions and attacks. Furthermore, there are grounds to expect the APCs will end up in terrorist hands, considering that Mahmoud Abbas’ own Fatah adherents continue to engage in terror against Israelis together with the radical Palestinian groups. Israelis living on the West Bank will now require anti-tank weapons for protection against enhanced Palestinian weaponry, as will the police contingents securing Israeli border areas. Our military sources add that the Russian APCs have devices to protect its personnel from blast effects, nuclear radiation, bacteriologic agents and toxic chemicals. An OU-3GA3M searchlight provides illumination for night firing and six 3D6 smoke grenade launchers produce smoke screens for camouflage. Even if one or two of its wheels are disabled, the BTR vehicle can keep going with the help of a centralized tire air control system. And even after being hit by an anti-tank mine, the vehicle can carry on fighting and travel for another 300 km before it stops. DEBKAfile’s Moscow sources report that since his October interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has invested time and effort in this relationship with a view to contributing to greater US-Russian understanding. The objects are to draw Putin onto the side of a tough US stance on Iran’s nuclear program and enlist his influence for extricating Damascus from its pact with Tehran. This stratagem has failed. The Russian president is sticking to an independent policy on Iran, as he has with the Palestinians, both Abbas and the radical Hamas. He is therefore following through on his promise of 50 APCs to the Fatah leader.
Iran and Syria Veto all Candidates for Lebanese President to Provoke Escalation in Beirut and Scuttle Washington’s Middle East Conference
Nov. 21...(DEBKA) At a special meeting in Tehran Monday, French special emissary Jean-Claude Cousseran laid the six candidates listed by the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon before Iranian foreign minister Manuchehr Mottaki and Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem. He hoped to negotiate an end to the crisis over the Lebanese presidency which falls vacant on Nov. 24. Mualem and Mottaki rejected all six candidates including Michel Khouri. The parliamentary vote scheduled for Nov. 21 had to be postponed. The latest word is that the Syrian government is on its way to backing out of the Middle East peace conference in Maryland, and attempting to scuttle that process. Our sources report that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and a high-ranking Saudi official, possibly foreign minister Saudi al-Faisal, are planning an urgent trip to Damascus today to recruit Assad into the peace conference. Our military sources report a sharp upsurge of military tensions on the Syrian-Israel and Lebanese-Israeli borders. These sources calculate that if Tehran and Damascus can force Lebanon into a civil war danger zone, they will have no qualms about unleashing surrogate terror war against Israel, from the north, the West Bank or Gaza. It appears that the US-led bid to detach Syria from its strategic pact with Iran, starting with Lebanon, may have foundered in Tehran. From Washington and Moscow, DEBKAfile’s sources report that in a telephone conversation Tuesday, President George W. Bush asked Russian ruler Vladimir Putin to use his influence with Bashar Assad to get him to change his mind. Deputy Russian foreign minister Alexander Sultanov, who is in Damascus, called on the Syrian president and vice president Farouk a-Shara. He told them that Moscow has thrown its support behind the peace parley and asks Damascus to send a delegation. However, the Syrian leaders refused to commit themselves. (out of allegiance to Iran) Putin also phoned the Lebanese majority leader Saad Hariri and promised to help Beirut overcome the crisis. Left high and dry, the US State Department continued to withhold information on the date, agenda and list of attendees and only sent out “save the date” notices to a large number of governments and institutions. Once again, while the Israeli prime minister and Egyptian president faced TV cameras from Sharm el Sheikh Tuesday, the shots in the Middle East were called by Tehran, and thus the push for dissecting Syria from the Axis of Evil has failed.
Putin: Russian Nuclear Forces Ready for any Attack
president warns Moscow will not remain indifferent to what he terms NATO's
Diplomacy With The Devil
The News) Neither George W. Bush nor the national security expert who
advised him through his first presidential campaign seemed captivated by the
prospect of a Nobel Peace Prize or encomiums from the chattering classes. But
something has happened over the last seven years. The allure of a place in
history has grown. How else to explain the about-face President Bush and
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have made on key foreign policy issues from
North Korea to the Middle East peace process? “And
there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the
earth distress of nations, with perplexity the sea and the waves roaring;”
Early in his term, President Bush jettisoned the crown jewels of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the North Korea Agreed Framework. In each case, experts still disagree about whether he was right to do so. But the fact is that Bill Clinton had appeased everyone in the Middle East and achieved nothing. And revelations that the North Koreans had been cheating on their 1994 commitment to abandon nuclear weapons made manifest the fraud underlying that “breakthrough.” Seven years into the Bush presidency, however, what was old is new again. The “blackmailing” Pyongyang regime is now one with which the United States can do business. Nevermind that in 2002, American and Spanish warships discovered a North Korean vessel carrying Scud missiles to Yemen or that in 2005 the Treasury Department designated the Macao-based Banco Delta Asia as a “primary money-laundering concern” for its role in North Korea’s illegal weapons, counterfeiting and drug businesses. Now suddenly, Washington eschews comment on North Korean arms sales. And as for Banco Delta Asia, it’s back in business and its frozen money has been returned to North Korea. Worse, Ms. Rice has now signed on to a new “Mark II” version of the agreed framework, which has considerably fewer benchmarks for the North Koreans than the Clinton administration deal did. Ostensibly a commitment by North Korea to disclose and abandon all nuclear programs, including a secret highly enriched uranium program, the deal’s vague, open-ended nature promises endless renegotiation. As to why an administration that once insisted upon “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement” is now O.K. with nebulous “abandonment,” the record is silent. Back in 2001, the newly minted Bush administration was scornful of Bill Clinton’s efforts to build a Palestinian state with a terrorist government in place. Mr. Bush refused to allow Yasir Arafat to darken the White House door and said he would “not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists.” Now Hamas is in control of Gaza, Mahmoud Abbas is the powerless president of a Palestinian Authority and members of his Fatah forces tried to assassinate Israel’s prime minister. Nonetheless, Ms. Rice has been to the region repeatedly and recently sought advice from not just Bill Clinton but, of all people, Jimmy Carter. Next week, she’ll be playing host to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and his Palestinian antagonists at a cozy chat session in Annapolis, Md. (None seem as committed to the meeting as Ms. Rice, originally expected to last three days, it has reportedly been pared down to one.) The clearest sign of Ms. Rice’s eagerness to make deals with Pyongyang and the Palestinians is her willingness to overlook egregious misbehavior by her negotiating partners. Much like the Clinton administration, which disregarded early warning of a uranium enrichment program in hopes of staging a “historic” presidential visit to Pyongyang in 2000, the United States is now ignoring evidence of North Korean nuclear and missile proliferation to the Middle East. For example, in September Israeli jets destroyed what Israeli and American intelligence assessed to be a North Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria. Officials who have seen the intelligence tell me the structure was the result of several years of transfers between North Korean nuclear suppliers and Syrian buyers. Ms. Rice’s most revealing comment? An explanation that “issues of proliferation do not affect the Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts we are making.” This bizarre rationalization is oddly divorced from reality: how could Israel possibly be indifferent to its neighbors acquiring nuclear technology from America’s partner in the new agreed framework? The statement simply invites America’s adversaries to capitalize on the administration’s desperation. Why not engage in bad behavior if the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration, will look the other way? By kowtowing to the conventional wisdom of what a secretary of state should do, Condoleezza Rice is making her legacy dependent on the future behavior of a North Korean tyrant and Palestinian pretenders. Ultimately, that will serve neither selfish nor national interests.
American Jewish Orgs.: Fatah Charter Still Calls to 'Eradicate' Israel
Nov. 20...(IsraelNN.com) The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is deliberating a proposed statement calling on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to change the Fatah charter, which calls to "eradicate" Israel. US Congressmen have submitted a similar resolution in the House of Representatives. The proposed statement details those clauses of the Fatah charter, drafted in 1964 and never repealed, that call for the "demolition" of the State of Israel, as well as "the eradication of the Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.” Towards that goal, the charter endorses "armed struggle" as "a strategy and not a tactic, to uproot the Zionist existence." The Fatah organization, headed by Abbas, also calls on the world community "to prevent Jewish immigration" to Israel. Fatah, according to its charter, "opposes any political solution." The statement on the Fatah charter, drafted and presented to the President's Conference by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), calls on Abbas to rescind the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and pro-terrorism clauses of the Fatah charter. "Rescinding these clauses," the statement reads, "would be an important confidence-building measure which would help to create a better environment to achieve progress in the peace talks." Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chairman of the Presidents Conference, said there has been very limited opposition to the ZOA proposal. Approval by at least two-thirds of the Conference's 50 member organizations is needed in order to issue the statement. Palestinian Authority officials identified with Abbas claim that Fatah decisions from 1989 allegedly recognizing Israel superseded the Fatah charter's call for Israel's violent demise. However, current Fatah websites carry the charter in its full, original and unaltered form, including the offending clauses. In addition, Abbas's chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, recently rejected recognition of any Jewish State whatsoever when pressed on the issue by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. As long as Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah Party continue to promote the wholesale destruction of Israel, there can be no possibility for peace. Since the electoral victory of Hamas, and its subsequent takeover of Gaza, the Fatah Party headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has gone out of its way to convince the international community that it represents the best hope for reconciliation and should be given additional resources to carry out its goals, but what most people don't know is that the Fatah Party's constitution, or party platform, still contains no fewer than 10 clauses calling for the destruction of Israel and terrorism against Israel, as well as expressing opposition to any political solution.
The Ten Clauses
The ten clauses of the Fatah charter singled out in the proposed House resolution and in the President's Conference proposed statement include:
Article 22: "Opposing any political solution offered as an alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine, as well as any project intended to liquidate the Palestinian cause or impose any international mandate on its people."
Article 12: "Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military, and cultural existence.
Article 19: "Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated."
Article 17: "Armed public revolution is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine."
Article 23: "Maintaining relations with Arab countries .. with the provision that the armed struggle is not negatively affected."
Article 8: "The Israeli existence in Palestine is a Zionist invasion with a colonial expansive base, and it is a natural ally to colonialism and international imperialism." Article 7: "The Zionist Movement is racial, colonial, and aggressive in ideology, goals, organization, and method."
Article 24: "Maintaining relations with all liberal forces supporting our just struggle in order to resist together Zionism and imperialism."
Article 4: "The Palestinian struggle is part and parcel of the world-wide struggle against Zionism, colonialism, and international imperialism."
Article 25: "Convincing concerned countries in the world to prevent Jewish immigration to Palestine as a method of solving the problem."
North American Union 'a Couple Years Away'
(Bilderberg author who 1st exposed plot in 1996 sees EU replication as imminent)
Nov. 20...(WND) The next giant step toward world government will be integration of the U.S., Canada and Mexico in European Union-style merger in the next few years, says the author of a best-selling book on the power of shadowy international organizations promoting the move. "I would say it's just a couple of years away," reports Daniel Estulin, author of "The True Story of the Bilerberg Group." Estulin, a Canadian now living in Europe, says the original plans for a North American Union involved the US and Canada as the prime participants. It was motivated primarily by the desire to harvest Canada's abundant natural resources. In his new book, Estulin reveals the first efforts in this plan date back to 1996 when the elite Bilderberg Group first discussed plans for the dismantlement of Canada as an independent nation and proposed its merger, minus Quebec, with the United States into a Greater North America. "Actually, the North American Union, or rather a Canada-US merger, was initially discussed shortly after the Reagan-Bush candidacy won the White House," he says in an interview with WND. "Upon taking over the reins of the country, George Bush and Ronald Reagan called in the presidents of the key trans-national companies and asked them for the real picture. The money people told them that if the United States were a corporation it would have to be shut down immediately. It was bankrupt." The plot for a North American Union, as exposed in detail in Jerome Corsi's new bestselling book: “The Late Great USA” is but a prelude, Estulin says, to the ultimate merger, a one-world government. "Everything is in place," he says. "Europe is now one country, one currency and one constitution. North America is about to become one. The African Union has had its working model going for over a decade. Asia is openly discussing the near-future Asian Union, being sold to us as an economic inevitability beneficial to all its citizens." Estulin sees the current focus in the US on the presidential election of 2008 as something of a farce in light of this trend. "Does it really matter who wins?" he asks. "As I make very clear in 'The True Story of the Bilderberg Group,' every politician of note and promise belongs to the Bilerbergers, the CFR, or the Trilaterla Commission. Unless you are one of them, you can hardly hope to win the presidency. If we vote for the lesser evil, forced upon us by the secret oligarchies and the powerful men behind the curtain, we end up playing the game imposed upon us by them. Democracy is a fallacy, an unattainable dream, a useless label trotted out and dusted off by the rulers every four years for the benefit of the great unwashed – us. There are two sides in this equation, the powerful elite who control the world's wealth and the rest of humanity
Chavez, Ahmadinejad join bin Laden's Jihad the Dollar
(Leaders urge OPEC members to declare economic war against US 'imperialism')
Nov. 20...(WND) Iran and Venezuela have declared war on the US dollar following al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's call for a jihad on the American currency. At this past weekend's OPEC summit in Saudi Arabia, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged members to move away from the dollar as the currency of choice for foreign-exchange reserves resulting from oil sales. Calling the dollar a "worthless piece of paper," Ahmadinejad told the OPEC summit that a "credible hard currency" other than the dollar should be found. Chavez, in his concluding speech at the summit, called for OPEC to use oil to fight US imperialism, arguing "the empire of the dollar has to end." Ahmadinejad's call for a basket of currencies for trading oil first surfaced over the weekend, after a closed OPEC members-only meeting was inadvertently shown on a TV monitor in the media center. The call for an oil jihad against the dollar was first issued by bin Laden in his "Letter to the American People," published by the London Guardian Nov. 24, 2002. Bin Laden wrote, "You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of your international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the highest theft ever witnessed in the history of the world." He declared, "Whoever has stolen our wealth, then we have the right to destroy their economy." At the Riyadh summit, Chavez told the group the price of oil could reach $150, or as high as $200 a barrel, "if the United States is crazy enough to attack Iran." Ahmadinejad argued that oil was under-priced at $100 a barrel, contending higher prices on world markets would be fair to oil-producing countries such as Iran. Saudi Arabia, a strong US ally, was reluctant to take political advantage of OPEC's oil-producing strength, arguing the cartel has always acted "moderately and wisely. According to IRNA, Chavez said "the value of dollars on global markets is declining, and we will witness the fall of the dollar in the future." IRNA also reported Ahmadinejad's statement that Venezuela and Iran are in full support of each other. In February 2006, WND reported, Iran was on a course to declare a jihad on the dollar, calling for the creation of an Iranian oil bourse organized to quote oil in euros, instead of dollars. To date, Iran has yet to follow through with the actual creation of an oil bourse. Venezuela declared a policy of moving the country's foreign-exchange holdings out of the dollar and into the euro. At that time, Chavez called for the creation of a South American central bank designed to hold in euros all the foreign-exchange holdings of the participating countries. In February an announcement by Ehrabhim Sheibany, governor of Iran's central bank, that about 60 percent of Iran's oil income is collected in non-dollar currencies, affirming Iran's decision to end all oil sales in dollars. According to the Associated Press, the dollar has lost 11 percent of its value against the euro since the start of this year. In December 2006, WND first reported a warning of the possibility of a dollar collapse. In January came warnings that the fall of the dollar in world currency markets was tied to the pricing of oil, and with oil at over $90 a barrel, the US is now spending $1 billion a day for foreign oil, an outflow of dollars that both deepens the country's negative balance of international trade and further weakens the dollar on world currency markets. It would seem that this trend spells doom for the dollar!
Olmert to Allow 'Palestinian Refugees' to 'Return'?
(Official says PM made deal analysts long warned is code for Jewish state's destruction)
Nov. 19...(WND) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed in principle to allow a number of Palestinian Arabs living in what the United Nations terms refugee camps to enter Israel as part of an Israeli-Palestinian accord, according to a senior Palestinian negotiator speaking to WND. Palestinians have long demanded the "right of return" for millions of "refugees," a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum warn is code for Israel's destruction by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Arabs, thereby changing its demographics. Allowing any number of so-called Palestinian refugees to enter Israel would serve as an admission on Israel's part that millions of Palestinians living in UN-maintained camps are indeed refugees and have a legitimate right to live in Israel. Though the negotiator said an exact number had not yet been determined, he indicated there could be as many as 20,000 Palestinians living in UN camps, with an initial phase of several hundred entering Israel with one year of an agreement. He said the first batch of entering Palestinian Arabs would consist of a sampling from the oldest residents of various UN camps. David Baker, a spokesperson for Olmert, had no comment on the report Olmert agreed to allow a number of declared refugees to enter Israel. The Palestinian negotiator said the Israeli and Palestinians teams have been hammering out the exact language to be used at a US-sponsored summit slated for Annapolis later this month at which Olmert is widely expected to outline a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank in a joint agreement of principles signed by the Israeli leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Various media reports, denied by Olmert, claimed in recent weeks Israel would also evacuate sections of Jerusalem and would negotiate what are considered core Israeli-Palestinian issues, primarily the status of Jerusalem and the so-called return of refugees. When Arab countries attacked the Jewish state after its creation in 1948, some 725,000 Arabs living within Israel's borders fled or were expelled from the area that became Israel. Also at that time, about 820,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries or fled following rampant persecution. While most Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel and other countries, the majority of Palestinian Arabs have been maintained in 59 UN-run camps that do not seek to settle those Arabs elsewhere. There are currently about 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the UN, including children and grandchildren of the original fleeing Arabs; Arabs living full-time in Jordan; and Arabs who long ago emigrated throughout the Middle East and to the West. Other cases of worldwide refugees aided by the UN are handled through the international body's High Commission for Refugees, which seeks to settle the refugees quickly, usually in countries other than those from which they fled. The UN created a special agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, specifically to handle registered Palestinian refugees. It's the only refugee case handled by the UN in which the declared refugees are housed and maintained in camps for generations instead of facilitating the refugees' resettlement elsewhere. The UN officially restricts the definition of refugee status worldwide for nationalities outside the Palestinian arena to those who fled a country of nationality or habitual residence due to persecution, who are unable to return to their place of residence and who have not yet been resettled. Future generations of original refugees are not included in the UN's definition of refugees. But the UN uses a different set of criteria only when defining a Palestinian refugee, allowing future generations to be considered refugees; terming as refugees those Arabs who have been resettled in other countries, such as hundreds of thousands in Jordan; removing the clause requiring persecution; and removing the clause requiring a refugee to be fleeing his or her "country of nationality or habitual residence," allowing for transient Arabs who didn't normally reside within Israel to be defined as Palestinian refugees. Palestinian leaders including Abbas routinely refer to the "right of return," claiming the declared right is mandated by the UN. But the two UN resolutions dealing with the refugee issue recommend that Israel "achieve a just settlement" for the "refugee problem." The resolutions, which are not binding, do not speak of any "right of return," and leave open the possibility of monetary compensation or other kinds of settlements
Saudi Presence Unlikely at Annapolis
Nov. 19...() Saudi Arabia could keep the United States guessing until the last minute on whether it will attend a Middle East peace conference next week, but analysts and diplomats say a high-level delegation is unlikely. Saudi Arabia, a key US ally whose presence would give a major boost to the US-sponsored November 26-27 summit in Annapolis, Maryland, has said it will attend only if core issues are tackled at the latest in a line of high-profile Arab-Israeli meetings dating back to Madrid in 1992. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal declined to speak on the issue, telling reporters on Sunday: "The Arab countries will meet on November 22 and the Arab position will be fixed then." He was referring to an Arab foreign ministers meeting at the Arab League in Cairo. In an effort to persuade Arab countries to attend, Israel said this week it would release Palestinian prisoners and pledge not to build new Jewish settlements. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam whose oil wealth has made it a major diplomatic player, had specified a freeze on settlements as one core issue that could entice it to attend. Arabs want the conference to deal with key issues that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in territories seized by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem. "Right now the position is Saudi Arabia is not attending, unless America surprises us with a better agenda. Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and even turning up at Annapolis could be seen as a concession in return for nothing. "Up to now there is not enough to encourage Saudi Arabia to go. But if the United States presents an agenda that talks of solving the core issues then they could go," said Jamal al-Shobaki, the Palestinian ambassador in Riyadh. Riyadh fears that without clear results on a peace deal, the conference could play into the hands of Iran, whose growing regional influence has alarmed US and Saudi leaders. "People here would rather not see the conference take place than for it to happen and come to nothing. That would reinforce Iran and weaken Abbas," one diplomat said. In Riyadh for an OPEC summit this week Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attacked Arabs who might attend the summitt. "Those who plan to go there, who will they represent? The people of Palestine have not given them permission to represent them," he told a news conference.
Pictures From OPEC Tell A Tale
Israel Says Palestinians have "Backtracked on all Understandings"
(Absent in Annapolis? Rice being thrown out “her window of opportunity")
Nov. 19...(Israel Insider) The Palestinians have backtracked on all understandings that were reached on a joint Israeli-Palestinian statement to be presented at the Annapolis peace conference, senior diplomatic officials were quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying Sunday. According to the sources, the Palestinians have "returned to square one, to a point that preceded the beginning of the negotiations." The impasse is because of the Bush Administrations rush to include Syria in the Summit. The implosion of Annapolis, as critics of the initiative have long warned, has become an imminent possibility, with a joint Israeli-Palestinian statement, expressing points of agreement, now being dismissed as highly improbable. Just today Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told French FM Bernard Kouchner that "Annapolis cannot be a failure because its very existence constitutes a success." But if Annapolis serves only to polarize the sides, and entrench positions, what possible good could it do? And why would Israel be willing to make pre-conference concessions, or "Confidence Building Measures" as they are called, while the Palestinian side is reverting to the most extreme stances, including rejection of positions, such as recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, positions that Olmert and his foreign minister say are prerequistes for Israeli recognition of a Palestinian State. The only result would be to make Olmert and his government look like buffoons and serve only to undermine the diplomatic initiatives of Rice and the Bush administration. The deterioration can be traced to Israel's insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel's character as a Jewish state, followed by the Palestinians staunch refusal to do so. Exemplifying the Palestinian hardline stance, Yasser Abed Rabbo, member of PLO's executive committee, asserted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can never be resolved without united Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. "Jerusalem is a united capital and is not subject for concessions," he told Voice of Palestine radio. His remarks were in response to Israeli demands that the Palestinian should make concessions in Jerusalem issue. "Without Jerusalem, there will be no capital for the Palestinian statehood and there will be no solution," Abed Rabbo continued. He also criticized the attempts of Israeli right powers to issue laws from the Knesset legalizing steps to make Jerusalem Jewish.
Venezuela's Chavez & Iran’s Ahmadinejad Denounce US Dollar
Nov. 19...(AP) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made his fourth trip to Iran in two years on Monday, state media reported, as the two countries sought to strengthen ties while their leaders exhort the international community to resist US policies. Chavez, who arrived in Tehran from Saudi Arabia where he attended the weekend's OPEC summit, is expected to discuss various political and economic issues with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Chavez was accompanied by a string of top Venezuelan officials for the hours-long visit, among them the foreign, industry, oil and communication ministers, as well as the mayor of Caracas, the country's capital. Ahmadinejad also attended the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. During the gathering, the two firebrand leaders echoed one another, blaming President Bush's policies for the decline of the dollar and its negative effect on other countries, and challenging Saudi Arabia's reluctance to mention weak dollar concerns in the summit's final declaration. Ahmadinejad claimed OPEC's member countries want to convert their cash reserves into a currency other than the depreciating US dollar, which he called a "worthless piece of paper." Chavez said the dollar was in free-fall and that its "empire" must end, and proposed trading oil in a basket of currencies excluding the dollar. But the two were unable to generate support from enough in the 13-member cartel, many of whom, including Saudi Arabia, are staunch US allies. Tehran is in a bitter standoff with Washington over its nuclear program, which the US fears is a cover for a weapons program but which Iran insists is peaceful. Meanwhile, the US accuses Chavez of being a threat to stability in Latin America, while the Venezuelan leader is constantly criticizing US "imperialism" under Bush. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, said Sunday the two leaders would sign economic deals and memorandums of understanding in economic fields, and an agreement on small and medium enterprises. In July, the two countries broke ground to start building a jointly owned petrochemical complex in Iran, with 51 percent of it in Iranian ownership and 49 percent to be owned by Venezuela. The two also began construction of a second petrochemical complex in Venezuela, at a total combined cost of $1.4 billion.
Chavez: Oil Will Soar to $200 if US Attacks Iran
(Venezuelan president tells OPEC summit in Riyadh, 'If the United States is crazy enough to attack Iran or commit aggression against Venezuela, Oil would not be $100 but $200 a barrel'.)
Nov. 19...(YNET) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday that oil prices could more than double to $200 per barrel if the United States attacked Iran over a standoff about Tehran's nuclear program. "If the United States is crazy enough to attack Iran or commit aggression against Venezuela, oil would not be $100 but $200," Chavez told an OPEC summit in the Saudi capital Riyadh. His remarks were translated into Arabic.
Chavez also said $100 per barrel was a "fair" price for oil. Oil has lapped against the $100-mark this month, prompting consumer nations to call on the exporter group to help ease price pressure by providing the market with more crude. On Friday, Saudi Arabia objected to an attempt by Iran and Venezuela to highlight concern over the dollar's weakness in the summit ommunique and the group voted the proposal out. Venezuela is a price hawk and holds some of the largest reserves outside the Middle East and is the no. 4 US supplier.
OPEC Considers Dollar's Drop
Nov. 19...(Washington Times) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that OPEC's members have expressed interest in converting their cash reserves into a currency other than the depreciating US dollar, which he called a "worthless piece of paper." The comments at the end of a rare summit of OPEC heads of state exposed fissures within the 12-member cartel, especially after US ally Saudi Arabia was reluctant to mention concerns about the falling dollar in the summit's final declaration. The hard-line Iranian leader's comments also highlighted the growing challenge that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, faces from Iran and its ally Venezuela within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. "They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper," Mr. Ahmadinejad told reporters after the close of the summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He blamed President Bush's policies for the decline of the dollar and its negative effect on other countries. "All participating leaders showed an interest in changing their hard-currency reserves to a credible hard currency," Mr. Ahmadinejad said. "Some said producing countries should designate a single hard currency aside from the US dollar, to form the basis of our oil trade." Oil is priced in US dollars on the world market, and the currency's depreciation has concerned oil producers because it has contributed to rising crude prices and eroded the value of their dollar reserves. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah tried to direct the focus of the summit toward the effect of the oil industry on the environment, but he continuously faced challenges from Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Iran and Venezuela have proposed trading oil in a basket of currencies to replace the historic link to the dollar, but they have not been able to generate support from enough fellow OPEC members, many of whom, including Saudi Arabia, are staunch US allies. Both Iran and Venezuela have antagonistic relationships with the US, suggesting their proposals may have a political motivation as well. While Tehran has been in a standoff with Washington over its nuclear program, Mr. Chavez is a bitter antagonist of Mr. Bush. During Mr. Chavez's opening address to the summit Saturday, the Venezuelan leader said OPEC should "assert itself as an active political agent." But King Abdullah appeared to distance himself from Mr. Chavez's comments, saying OPEC always acted moderately and wisely. A day earlier, Saudi Arabia opposed a move by Iran to have OPEC include concerns over the falling dollar in the summit's closing statement. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister warned that even talking publicly about the currency's decline could further hurt its value. But by yesterday, it appeared that Saudi Arabia had compromised. Though the final declaration did not specifically mention concern over the weak dollar, the organization directed its finance ministers to study the issue. OPEC will "study ways and means of enhancing financial cooperation among OPEC, including proposals by some of the heads of state and governments in their statements to the summit," said the statement, read by OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem el-Badri. Iran's oil minister went a step further and said OPEC will form a committee to study the dollar's affect on oil prices and investigate the possibility of a currency basket. "We have agreed to set up a committee consisting of oil and finance ministers from OPEC countries to study the impact of the dollar on oil prices," Gholam Hussein Nozari told Dow Jones Newswires. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said the committee would "submit to OPEC its recommendation on a basket of currencies that OPEC members will deal with." He did not give a timeline for the recommendation. The meeting in Riyadh, with heads of states and delegates from 12 of the world's biggest oil-producing nations, was the third full OPEC summit since the organization was created in 1960.
Israel May be Forced to Apologize for its Rebirth
Nov. 19...(Israel Today) United States-led international efforts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs may soon shift from a focus on extracting Israeli land concessions to pressuring the Jewish state to publicly apologize for its very existence. WorldNetDaily Editor Joseph Farah recently wrote that, according to his sources, Israel is about to come under intense pressure to formally apologize for what the Arab world calls "al-Nakba," the "catastrophe" of Israel's rebirth in 1948 on what had previously been Muslim-controlled lands. Farah notes that this type of shift in peace making policy was first broached in the August 24 issue of Science magazine when American researchers concluded that their survey of Israel and its Arab antagonists showed tangible land concessions on Israel's part would not be enough to secure peace in the region. As evidence for their position, the researchers quoted a leading Hamas official as saying that his group would consider recognizing and negotiating with Israel if the Jewish state first apologized for coming into being. Farah pointed out that with the Bush Administration determined to oversee a final status Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before the end of its second term, Israel may indeed soon be asked by its closest ally to beg the Arabs' pardon for its existence. That, of course, would be detrimental to Israel's efforts to convince both its own people and the world of its historical and biblical right to exist.
FOJ Note: Imagine, the world may coerce an apology from Israel for the wondrous miracle of God gathering Jews from around the world and giving them their homeland back, after a 2000 year hiatus. All of this was prophesied in the Bible.
US Secretly Aiding Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms?
Nov. 19...(excerpt from New York Times) Over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost $100 million on a highly classified program to help Gen. Pervez Musharraff, Pakistan’s president, secure his country’s nuclear weapons, according to current and former senior administration officials. But with the future of that country’s leadership in doubt, debate is intensifying about whether Washington has done enough to help protect the warheads and laboratories, and whether Pakistan’s reluctance to reveal critical details about its arsenal has undercut the effectiveness of the continuing security effort. The aid, buried in secret portions of the federal budget, paid for the training of Pakistani personnel in the United States and the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan, a facility that American officials say is nowhere near completion, even though it was supposed to be in operation this year. A raft of equipment, from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment, was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age. While American officials say that they believe the arsenal is safe at the moment, and that they take at face value Pakistani assurances that security is vastly improved, in many cases the Pakistani government has been reluctant to show American officials how or where the gear is actually used. The American program was created after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America, when the Bush administration debated whether to share with Pakistan one of the crown jewels of American nuclear protection technology, known as “permissive action links,” or PALS, a system used to keep a weapon from detonating without proper codes and authorizations. In recent days, American officials have expressed confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is well secured. “I don’t see any indication right now that security of those weapons is in jeopardy, but clearly we are very watchful, as we should be,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference on Thursday. The secret financing program was designed by the Energy Department and the State Department, and it drew heavily from the effort over the past decade to secure nuclear weapons, stockpiles and materials in Russia and other former Soviet states. Much of the money for Pakistan was spent on physical security, like fencing and surveillance systems, and equipment for tracking nuclear material if it left secure areas. So far, the amount the United States has spent on the classified nuclear security program, less than $100 million, amounts to slightly less than one percent of the roughly $10 billion in known American aid to Pakistan since the Sept. 11 attacks. Most of that money has gone for assistance in counterterrorism activities against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Now that concern about General Musharraf’s ability to remain in power has been rekindled, so has the debate inside and outside the Bush administration about how much the program accomplished, and what it left unaccomplished.
Hamas on the Way to Building an Army
The Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza is two to three years away from
becoming a real army and reaching the same capabilities of Hizbullah today,
according to Defense Ministry sources quoted by the Hebrew newspaper Yediot
Aharonot. The sources also
warned the range of improved Kassam rockets has grown to the point that Ashdod
soon can be targeted, confirming warnings several weeks ago from Opposition
Leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Hamas terrorists are camouflaging their
infrastructure using the same strategy employed by Hizbullah in the six years
after the IDF withdrew from Lebanon and until the Second Lebanon War broke out
last year. Like Hizbullah, Hamas has amassed weapons in underground bunkers that
were dug below bushes and houses, leaving them undetected from the air. Hamas
also has built an underground network of tunnels for smuggling weapons and
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 12 THROUGH NOVEMBER 18
Pakistan's Musharraf Warns US About Nuke Weapons
(President defends emergency rule, saying arms could fall into wrong hands, even terrorists)
Nov. 17...(MSN) President Pervez Musharraf, defending his decision to declare emergency rule, has said Pakistan's nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands if elections led to disturbances. The comments, in a BBC interview broadcast on Saturday, come as US envoy John Negroponte visited Pakistan to put pressure on Musharraf to revoke the two-week-old emergency, make peace with opposition leader and hold fair elections. Musharraf said that if elections were held in a "disturbed environment," it could bring in dangerous elements who might pose a risk to control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Gen. Musharraf justified his coup by saying the security of Pakistan was at stake from extremist Islamist elements. But the heads and bones cracked by baton-wielding Pakistani riot policemen and the military were those of lawyers and judges, not Islamist fundamentalists trying to bring down the government. Gen. Musharraf's political opponents accuse him of having used the emergency rule last weekend to postpone holding elections with a single goal in mind: retaining power. Mr. Qasuri blames "judicial activism." The lawyers and judges were bailing out hundreds of Islamists, he said, and they had to be stopped. In analyzing events in Pakistan, one cannot help but see similarities with the events that unfolded in the streets of Tehran, Abadan and other Iranian cities prior to the Islamic revolution. The Carter Administration failed to offer support to the shah in Iran in 1979, and Iran fell under the control of Ayatollah Khmomeini.
Hamas Favors Hillary for the White House
Nov. 17...(WND) The Israel-hating and US-loathing Hamas terrorist group would like to see Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton win the 2008 elections. So said Hamas’ senior political advisor Ahmed Yousef in an interview with World Net Daily Jerusalem correspondent Aaron Klein this week. Hamas believes Senator Clinton, wife of former US President Bill Clinton will end President George W. Bush's "unlimited military and diplomatic support for Israel" and adopt a more "evenhanded" approach toward the Palestinian Arabs. While Clinton has often voiced her “support” for and “commitment to” Israel, she has used this “positive” approach to sugar-coat the policy she really wants to see implemented, the creation of a Palestinian state on historic Jewish lands with far less stringent prerequisite demands made on the “Palestinian” side than those expected by Bush. Millions of Christian Americans fear a Clinton win next year will push the US, which they already believe to be on a slippery slope, over the edge, making it almost impossible for the country ever to return to its spiritual roots and heritage.
In a Dramatic Reverse, Putin Sends Uranium For Iran’s Atomic Power Station
Nov. 17...(DEBKA) The Russian president Vladimir Putin indicated Friday that Moscow would send uranium to Iran’s atomic reactor in Bushehr (a reactor unconnected with Iran’s suspect military program) after all. International Atomic Energy inspectors were invited to the Novosibirsk Plant on Nov. 26 to verify and seal the fuel before shipment. On that day, too, the US-promoted Middle East conference is provisionally set to open in Annapolis, Maryland. The Quartet of which Russia is a member will not be there. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that by this step, Moscow has backed away from the commitments Putin gave President Bush and Israeli prime minister Olmert, after his mid-October talks with Iranian leaders in Tehran broke down in discord. He then promised to withhold the fuel from the Bushehr reactor and indeed pulled all the Russian staff out before they had completed work on the project’s final stages. Olmert received Putin’s commitment to withhold the uranium fuel from Iran when they met in the Kremlin on Oct. 18 and passed it on to President Bush and later to French president Nicolas Sarkozy and British premier Gordon Brown in special trips he made to Paris and London. The Israeli prime minister announced then that Israel had a true friend in the Russian leader. He is deeply embarrassed by Putin’s about-face. It also bodes ill for the third round of sanctions, for which the Bush administration is pushing at the UN Security Council, where Russian holds a veto, now that the nuclear watchdog confirmed in its latest report Nov. 15 that Iran had not given up uranium enrichment. DEBKAfile’s Moscow sources report that the Russian president has reverted to his previous tactic of broadcasting to Muslim nations a message that Moscow has its own agenda and is willing, unlike Washington, to help them develop their nuclear programs. The question mark hanging over UN sanctions also affects the decision on military action against Iran’s suspect military nuclear facilities, which President Bush had put on a back burner under the influence of Putin’s breach with Tehran. There was a brief thaw in the tense relations between Washington and Moscow and signs of a new willingness for compromise on both sides on such matters as the US plan to deploy anti-missile systems in East Europe. The month-long détente was abruptly curtailed Friday, Nov. 16, with Moscow’s decision to let Iran have the uranium to fuel its Bushehr reactor six months before its scheduled start-up. The step was gladly welcomed in Tehran.
Saudi Minister Warns of Dollar Collapse
Nov. 17...(The Business) The dollar could collapse if OPEC officially admits considering changing the pricing of oil into alternative currencies such as the Euro, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister has warned. Prince Saud Al-Faisal was overheard ruling out a proposal from Iran and Venezuela to discuss pricing crude in a private meeting at the oil cartel's conference. In an embarrassing blunder at the meeting in Riyadh, ministers' microphones were not cut off during a key closed meeting, and Prince Al-Faisal was heard saying: "My feeling is that the mere mention that the OPEC countries are studying the issue of the dollar is itself going to have an impact that endangers the interests of the countries. "There will be journalists who will seize on this point and we don't want the dollar to collapse instead of doing something good for OPEC." After around 40 minutes press officials cut off the feed, which had been accidentally broadcast to the press room. Prince Al-Faisal added: "This is not new. We have done this in the past: decide to study something without putting down on paper that we are going to study it so that we avoid any implication that will bring adverse effects on our countries' finances." Iran and Venezuela have argued that the meeting's final communique should voice concern about the level of the dollar, which has recently fallen to new record lows against the Euro. They are pushing for oil to be denominated against a basket of currencies. The greenback also weakened slightly against the pound, although sterling's own recent weakness has pushed it down from $2.10 to $2.0457 during the week. Nigerian finance minister Shamsuddeen Usman said that OPEC could declare in the communique that: "While underlining our concern for the continued depreciation of the dollar and its adverse impact on our revenues, we instruct our finance ministers to study the issue exhaustively and advise us on ways to safeguard the purchasing power of our revenues."
Bush Gambling His Presidency on Jerusalem
Nov. 16...(Israel Today) New peace talks are effectively picking up where they left off at the Camp David Summit in 2000, when then Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state in 95 percent of Judea and Samaria, and a capital in Jerusalem. Seven years after “peace” talks collapsed in a wave of Palestinian terror, and just months after Hamas seized control of Gaza, Jerusalem is back on the negotiating table, thanks to President George W. Bush. Though Bush has been one of the best friends Israel has ever had in the White House, he has decided to spend his last year in office becoming the world's no.1 promoter of a Palestinian state. Fearing that his legacy would be the Iraq war, Bush needs a foreign policy achievement before the end of his term. So he has called an international peace conference expected to take place in Annapolis, Maryland this year. “Frankly, it’s time for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a shuttle mission here to prepare for the conference. “The United States sees the establishment of a Palestinian state as being absolutely essential for the future.” New peace talks are effectively picking up where they left off at the Camp David Summit in 2000, when then Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state in 95 percent of Judea and Samaria, and a capital in Jerusalem.
(FOJ: It seems the more that American Presidents become concerned about their presidential legacies, the bigger fools they become over the “cup of trembling” that is Jerusalem! Isaiah 51:22-23 Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.)
Annapolis Conference May Depend on Syria and Lebanon
Nov. 16...(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s Washington and Middle East sources report that the team Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent to Washington, led by his chief of staff Yoram Turbovitch, to prepare the Middle East conference, arrived home Friday empty-handed. They found the entire venture still up in the air. No agenda has been compiled. Israel wants it to focus on its dispute with the Palestinians rather than the Israel-Arab conflict, and certainly not the Golan’s return to Syria. No timetable has yet been set for the conference, or even a date for its opening. All the Israeli officials were told was that President Bush planned to invite the delegations to a White House reception on the eve of the conference. But even that is in doubt, since a number of Arab governments are only sending low-ranking officials or their ambassadors. Therefore, the entire venture is in doubt, as is the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s scheduled visit to the region next week. Much depends on the outcome of Lebanon’s parliamentary vote for a new president, scheduled finally for Wed. Nov. 21, which is riveting the attention of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Egypt to a much greater extent than the Annapolis conference. Lebanese factions are deadlocked in their choice of president, who must come from the Maronite Christian community, despite the strenuous efforts this week of UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and Washington to select an agreed upon candidate. The main obstacle in Lebanese presidential politics is Iran, acting through the Shiite Hizballah, which is blocking any arrangement that does not assure Hizballah and its armed militia’s centrality in Lebanon’s power structure. If Rice’s journey to the region does take place, she risks finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Should a critical situation unfold in Beirut, the Annapolis conference would be nothing but a sideshow for the Arab world, and an embarrassing blow to the Bush Administration. In any case, the US Secretary has little to do in Jerusalem and Ramallah but regurgitate all the points dividing Israel and the Palestinians. As things stand now, the probability of her arriving in the Middle East and, indeed, the conference taking off at all, is diminishing.
(FOJ Note: In the Last Days, international diplomats talk a lot about peace, and calculate many formulas and processes to achieve a semblance of peace, but there is still no peace.)
Hamas Warns Abbas Against Any Concessions to Israel
Nov. 16...(FOJ) Hamas supporters rallied outside the official Gaza residence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to lobby against giving ground to Israel at the Annapolis, Maryland Summit at the end of the month. Abbas has not set foot in the coastal enclave since Hamas Islamists routed his Western-backed forces in June, restricting Abbas's authority to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and posing a major complication to efforts to negotiate a peace with Israel. Khalil al-Hayya, a Hamas leader, warned in a speech to the Gaza crowd of "an explosion that will know no borders" if Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, softens positions on the status of Jerusalem and the right of Palestinian refugees to return home. "We tell you, Abu Mazen, there is no good in you if you make concessions over al-Aqsa mosque, there is no good in you if you concede any fixed Palestinian rights," Hayya said. Abbas, who called on Thursday for Hamas to be "brought down" in Gaza, has made no indication of concessions in negotiations expected to follow the Annapolis conference and which he has said he hopes can establish a Palestinian state. Hamas, which is shunned by Israel and its allies for its refusal to renounce violence against the Jewish state, will not be represented at Annapolis. Though they won a parliamentary majority and formed a government last year, Hamas leaders were dismissed from power by Abbas in June after they seized Gaza.
Israel Preparing for A Nuclear Teheran
Nov. 16...(JPOST) According to the report, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has instructed his ministers to draft proposals on how to cope with a nuclear Iran. The agency quoted a source close to Olmert as saying there were "long-term ramifications to be addressed, like how to maintain our deterrent and military response capabilities, or how to off-set the attrition on Israeli society that would be generated by fear of Iranian nukes." Minister Ami Ayalon refused to discuss specific policy issues, but told Reuters that there was a need for a three-point strategy against Iran. "First, we must make clear that this is a threat not just to Israel, but to the wider world. Second, we must exhaustively consider all preventive options. And third, we must anticipate the possibility of those options not working," Ayalon said. According to foreign media sources Israel's defense strategy is based on the assumption that it is the only nation in the Middle East to possess nuclear weapons. Iran has denied accusations that it is after nuclear weaponry, stating that its atomic research was a means of acquiring nuclear energy capabilities. However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has on numerous occasions called for Israel's destruction. Israel has supported international efforts to stop Iran's atomic development through UN Security Council sanctions, and several Israeli officials have also hinted that Israel could attack Iran's nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails. Reuters reported that Israel was developing its defense systems to fend off a possible Iranian attack. It added that Israel was constructing a fleet of German-made submarines which could possibly carry nuclear missiles, sending a clear message that there would be retaliation for any Iranian attack.
Rice Is Deceived By Palestinian Ruse Ahead Of Peace Summit
Nov. 14...(Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is lobbying hard before Jewish Americans that having a “responsible” Palestinian state next to Israel will help with Israel’s security and will serve as a counterbalance to the terrorist sponsoring state of Iran and its influence in the Middle East. Speaking before the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Nashville, Tennessee, Rice said, “Indeed, the threat of violent extremism has created a new strategic alignment in the Middle East. Responsible states now see that they share a common interest in combating a common threat and that a responsible Palestinian state can be a bulwark against that threat.” Secretary Rice calls “responsible” Palestinian leaders like Mahmoud Abbas and his political party Fatah. But Fatah is a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, whose Charter still maintains in Article 9, “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their right to normal life in all of Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over all of it.” Secretary Rice should be reminded that her experiment in democracy with “responsible” Palestinians ended with the election of Hamas, a terrorist group that has set up shop in Gaza with the help of Iran and Egypt, who are funneling weapons to terrorists there at a $20 million per month pace. It was not long ago that the world was treated to television video of the Israeli military on horseback evicting Jewish settlers from their productive farms, businesses and homes in Gaza in an American-sanctioned land for peace deal. Within days all the Israeli infrastructure in Gaza was bulldozed and terrorist rockets began tracing through the skies of nearby Israeli villages, injuring and killing innocent citizens. Iran is arming and equipping Palestinian terrorists in Israel. Hamas is just a more radical version of terrorists than is Fatah. Like “good cop” and “bad cop” Fatah and Hamas are taking the State Department and the US government to school when it comes to the ruse of “land for peace.” America will force its will upon Israel that the land will be given and the “peace” of Islam will be administered just as it is being carried out in Gaza. And the prophecy of Zechariah 12:9 may well cast a long shadow over America: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that there will be blessing instead of judgment.
Putin’s Plan For A Never-Ending Presidency
(Putin unveils his plan for staying in power after next March)
Nov. 14...(The Economist) It has always been a question of how, not if, Vladimir Putin would retain power in Russia when his second, and (according to the constitution) final presidential term runs out in March 2008. This week Mr. Putin lifted the veil. At a congress of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, he graciously agreed to head its party list at the general election in December. He added that he may become prime minister if the party wins the election and the president is a man he can work with. United Russia is sure to win and, since Putin will hand-pick the president, he will presumably get along with him. So this charade has only one meaning: Putin is staying on, probably for a very long time. This is part two of Mr. Putin's game plan. Part one came three weeks ago when he appointed an unknown technocrat, Viktor Zubkov, as prime minister and hinted that he might become president. Mr. Zubkov has three main qualifications: he has no visible political ambitions, is quite old (66, to Mr Putin's 54) and is personally loyal (he was Putin's deputy in St Petersburg's mayoral office) Now Putin has a couple of options. He could take a short break from the Kremlin and move into the prime minister's chair, leaving Zubkov (or another pliant candidate) to look after the Kremlin for a while. Mr. Zubkov would then step down, perhaps for health reasons, and Putin would automatically return as president without breaking the letter of the constitution. His other, more complicated option is to use United Russia's dominance of the Duma, the lower house of parliament, to change the constitution and devolve real power to the prime minister, turning the presidency into more of a ceremonial job. This would also allow him to stay in power without the appearance of breaking the constitution. Either plan has risks. His popularity may not transfer easily to somebody like Zubkov, who uncannily resembles the Soviet-era collective-farm director that he once was. Any more colorful candidate could renege on a deal. The idea of two power-centes in Russia, even for a short time, poses problems, particularly when rivalry between factions in the Kremlin is intensifying. By staying in power after 2008, Putin will have overridden one of the big achievements of the Yeltsin era: a voluntary transfer of power from one political leader to another. Kremlin ideologues like to describe Russia as a “sovereign democracy,” whatever that means. Elsewhere it would be called an autocracy. It has nothing in common with a real democracy, which implies competition for power. The bigger point is that Putin's rule has coincided with a spectacular rise in oil prices, leading to improved living standards for millions of Russians, and to more power on the international stage for Putin.
Secretary Rice: Israel Must be Prepared for "Difficult and Painful Sacrifices" now that they have a Peace Partner in President Abbas
Nov. 14...(DEBKA) In an address to the United Jewish Communities meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, Tuesday, Nov. 13, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Israelis must sacrifice some of their “longest held aspirations” in talks with Palestinian leaders. A strong Palestinian state was more urgent than ever, she insisted, as a bulwark against threats from violent extremists, Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and to Iran. DEBKAfile’s sources reveal: Rice confirmed what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni are holding back from the Israeli public: Their acceptance of deep withdrawals from the West Bank in favor of a Palestinian state, the uprooting of 100,000 Israelis living there, and additional broad concessions ahead of the Annapolis peace conference. The audience applauded Rice when she reassured them of Washington’s commitment to protect longtime ally against threats from Tehran, fight anti-Semitism and confront Hamas and Iran. But the crowd was silent when she called Abbas “a true partner for peace” and said Israel now had “responsible leadership” with which to deal. The concessions exacted from Israel, DEBKAfile has learned, include the ceding of West Bank natural resources to Palestinian control, including shared sources of water. Talks have already begun for a US-Israeli Palestinian mechanism to supervise water sources, possibly including Jordan. Olmert has further consented to start negotiations with Syria on Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan. The talks will kick off at the follow-up to the Annapolis conference, which will take place in Moscow. He agreed to attend when he met Putin in the Kremlin Oct. 18. The Annapolis conference, according to DEBKAfile’s sources, is not just an event lasting a few hours, as Olmert downplays it, but part of a broad cooperative US-Russian initiative aimed at bringing the Russian president aboard Washington’s push for tough sanctions against Iran. Israel’s willingness to negotiate the Golan’s return was offered by Washington as bait to draw the Syrian president away from his pact with Tehran and stop meddling in Lebanon. The success of this ploy will be tested before the Annapolis conference, on Nov. 21, when Damascus must keep its hands off Lebanon’s presidential election. At some point, the Israeli prime minister and foreign minister will have some hard explaining to do for relinquishing the fundamental demand for secure and defensible borders, and overriding the country’s majority objections to the sweeping concessions to the Palestinians, which he is laying at the Bush administration’s feet. Olmert will no doubt try and explain that these concessions were mandatory for the sake of achieving US-Russian cooperation for the imposition of sanctions against Iran. The fact that this cooperation will have relieved Tehran of the military threat hanging over its head for continuing to develop a nuclear weapon will not figure in Olmert’s arguments to the nation. In her Nashville speech, the US secretary of state presented the “difficult and painful sacrifices” Israel must make to meet the most excessive Palestinian demands as a diktat: Failure of the Israeli-Palestinian talks is not an option. She justified it by determining: “What is at stake is nothing less than the whole future of the Middle East.”
So Long, Gideons, So Long Bible
(The one thing vacationers and travelers could reliably count on in their hotel rooms: a Bible in the bedside table. But like many traditions in the US, this one may be dying.)
Nov. 13...(excerpt from Newsweek) In the rooms of Manhattan's trendy Soho Grand Hotel guests can enjoy an eclectic selection of underground music, iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs and even the living company of a complimentary goldfish. But, alas, the word of God is nowhere to be found. Unlike traditional hotels, the 10-year-old boutique has never put Bibles in its guest rooms, because "society evolves," says hotel spokeswoman Lori DeBlois. Providing Bibles would mean the hotel "would have to take care of every guest's belief." What might be surprising to many Americans is that the Bible-free room isn't a development just in hip New York City hotels. Across the country upscale accommodations are doing away with the Bible as a standard room amenity. And in its stead have arrived a slew of "lifestyle" products that cater to a younger, hipper (and presumably less religious) clientele. Since 2001 the number of luxury hotels with religious materials in the rooms has dropped by 18 percent, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. The Nashville-based Gideons International, which has distributed copies of the Christian scripture to hotels since 1908, declined to comment on this trend.
PA/PLO - Israel? OK. Jewish Israel? Never
Nov. 13...(JNEWSWIRE) Just weeks before the Bush administration is set to convene its conference on the creation of Palestine, one of the PLO/PA's most senior spokesman declared that the "Palestinians" will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Saeb Erekat was speaking on Palestine Radio Monday when he gave the rationale for the "Palestinian" position. "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined," he said. The words thus spelled out by PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas' right hand man shone light on a central component of the deceptive, and usually hidden, PLO strategy whose end goal has always been the eradication of a sovereign Jewish state from the Muslim Middle East. Since US President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker began the land-for-peace process in 1991, a demand made on the PLO and other elements in the anti-Israel terrorist front has consistently been that they recognize the State of Israel. After ducking and diving their way around this demand, the Arab side finally found the key: They would recognize Israel as "a state" but not as a "Jewish state." To this end they - including the Palestinian Arabs who enjoy Israeli citizenship - support the institution of a "one-man-one-vote" democracy that will erode and finally erase Israel's identity as "a Jewish state." The PLO's insistence that the "right of return" be given to all its refugees is designed to help hasten the explosion of the demographic time bomb. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected this position outright. "We won't hold negotiations on our existence as a Jewish state, this is a launching point for all negotiations," he said. "We won't have an argument with anyone in the world over the fact that Israel is a state of the Jewish people. “Whoever does not accept this cannot hold any negotiations with me. This has been made clear to the Palestinians and the Americans."
Israel Offers Palestinian Statehood to Entity Which Rejects Existing Israeli State
Top PA negotiator
Saeb Erekat rejected out of hand Israel's demand that the Palestinians
acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. "There is no country in the world where
religious and national identities are intertwined," Erekat told Radio Palestine.
Erekat also said that when agreements are signed the Palestinians would demand
that Israel make a written commitment to release all Palestinian prisoners in
Israeli jails. In response to Erekat's comment, a senior official in the Prime
Minister's Office said PM Ehud Olmert insists that the Palestinians recognize
Israel's Jewish identity as a condition for Israeli recognition of a Palestinian
state. That would seem to put the entire conference in Annapolis, intended to
announce Israel's agreement to recognize a Palestinian State, in considerable
doubt. Olmert told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the Annapolis
peace conference would not last for more than a single day. He said Israel would
continue to negotiate with Abbas even if terrorists continue rocketing southern
Israel from Gaza. In response to the prime minister's announcement, opposition
leader Binyamin Netanyahu said that the government was "giving away everything"
and in exchange was "getting more terrorists." After meeting with Shas spiritual
leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, he added: "The Olmert government is repeating the
mistakes made by the Barak government at Camp David. Then, they gave everything
but all they got in return were terrorists and suicide bombers. Now, the
government of Olmert, Barak and Livni is behaving in the same way." "This is not
a path to peace, it is a path to terror," Netanyahu said.
'Mr. Suicide Bomb' Gets Audience in Washington
(Secretary Rice, US lawmakers meet with Muslim sheikh who says Jesus, Moses were 'prophets for Islam')
Nov. 13...(WND) A senior Muslim cleric who is a prominent justifier of suicide bombings met last week with senators and congressmen and consulted last month with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, WND has learned. Sheikh Taysir Tamimi, chief Palestinian justice, also claimed in a recently released book for which he was interviewed the Torah was "falsified," Jewish and Christian history were "invented," the Jewish Temples never existed and the Al Aqsa Mosque was built by angels. "I am very glad to have this occasion to speak to Congress and the Senate and have access to groups and individuals that form American policy," said Tamimi in a statement. "I emphasized in the meetings the importance of religious coexistence and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be solved without creating a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," the Tamimi statement said. Tamimi is considered the second most important Palestinian cleric after Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. He met in Washington last week with a slew of lawmakers as part of a new interfaith religious organization, the Council for Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, formed with the stated purpose of promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace. The council includes Israeli chief rabbis, top Muslim Palestinian judges and leading Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant clerics from Israel and the Palestinian areas. It is reportedly funded by the United States Agency for International Development, which also provides millions in annual aid to help the Palestinians build infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Tamimi and the council met on Nov. 6 with Sens. Joseph Liebermann, I-Conn.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; and John Ensign, R-Nev. The next day the sheikh held meetings with more than a dozen House members, including Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. Tamimi also reportedly met last week with David Welch, US deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and consulted last month with Rice regarding how to promote a future Palestinian state. His office told WND the Islamic cleric is slated to meet with President Bush, but no such visit could be verified. Tamimi's Washington trip was timed to generate support for an upcoming US-sponsored Annapolis summit at which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to outline a Palestinian state including most of the West Bank. Some reports claim Olmert also is willing to cede sections of Jerusalem. According to media reports Tamimi and his group expressed to US lawmakers last week a six-point platform that includes plans to set up a panel representing all the faiths that would condemn media or government incitement against any religious group; a board that would review educational materials for incitement; and a "hot line" to address any emerging crisis surrounding access to holy sites. But WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein reports that Tamimi presented a different attitude to him, stating Jews have no right to Jerusalem or to Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount. Tamimi also is well-known for his justification of Palestinian suicide bombings and was accused by Israel of inciting the violence at the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada that started in Sept. 2000.
Syrian threat put Israeli nuclear facility on high alert
Nov. 12...(JNEWSWIRE) Israel-Syria tensions which had lulled somewhat after roller-coasting in the summer soared again last week amid fears Damascus would try strike Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev. According to reports in Israel and the west, the protective missile shield around the Negev Nuclear Research Center went on red alert no less than 30 times between November 4 and 10, with a battery of US-built Patriot anti-missile systems deployed. Dimona, said an unnamed IDF source according to the British Sunday Times, "tops Syria's list" of Israeli targets to aim for. If it occurred, the attack could be seen as a tit-for-tat response to Israel's taking out of a Syrian nuclear plant on September 6. However, unlike the surgical combined IAF and commando raid reportedly carried out on the still-under-construction Syrian site, a successful hit on Dimona would have catastrophic consequences for Israel. The city of Dimona, which lies about 10 km north of the nuclear reactor, is the third largest Israeli population center in the Negev, with residents numbering around 33,000.
Massive Monument to Arafat by Abbas on Eve of Annapolis
Bush to Go Public on Iran’s Secret Nuclear Arms Activities
Nov. 12...(DEBKA) President George W. Bush is developing a new strategy for tackling Iran’s determined pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. He sounded out French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on his new ideas when they came over separately for talks in the last few days. He is also in rapport with Russian president Vladimir Putin through confidential channels. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that the US president’s plan is to put before the public new findings on Iran’s nuclear secrets, drawn from data gathered by the United States, Russia, France, Germany and Israel, and use the publicity as a fulcrum to push hard for tough international sanctions. The White House hopes thereby to compel Tehran to level on its military nuclear program, whose existence it has so far denied, and demonstrate the failure of the international nuclear watchdog’s director, Mohammed ElBaradei and his vast inspection organization, to uncover the underhand nuclear activities in progress in Iran and Syria. Washington hopes that once the real facts are in the open, Russia and China, which back ElBaradei, will endorse a third round of UN Security Council sanctions, tough enough to progressively place Iran under economic siege. Monday, Nov. 12, Merkel hosted Sarkozy in Berlin to line up their positions in the light of their talks with the US president and a week before the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany convene ahead of a full council meeting on sanctions. Sarkozy is more fired up for harsh measures than Merkel. But even she admitted after meeting Bush at his Crawford ranch Saturday, Nov. 10, that failing diplomatic progress with Iran, “We need to think about further possible sanctions.” Putin is the key to the imposition of multilateral sanctions and their effectiveness. European companies, especially in Germany, fear that their economic boycott of trade with Iran will create a gap into which Russia and China will eagerly step. The failure of the Russian president’s talks in Tehran last month left him more amenable to an accommodation with Bush than before. His cooperation in the Bush strategy would leave China as the only standout. The US president and his spokesmen have reiterated their commitment to pursuing diplomacy. On the other hand, declaring Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps al Qods Brigade a global terrorist group has placed the US military option squarely on the table, which all the European are anxious to avert. They will have noticed that military tensions in the region are rising again. US naval, air and marine forces are again beginning to pile up around Iran’s Gulf shores, while Tehran threatens to unleash “wave upon wave” of suicide fighters against “aggressors.” DEBKAfile’s military sources report that in recent months, the USS Enterprise was the only US nuclear carrier cruising Gulf waters with its strike force. It has now been joined by the USS Nimitz Strike Group, one of the largest warships afloat today. Furthermore, on Nov. 5, a third nuclear carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman set out quietly from its Norfolk base for the Gulf with 7,500 sailors and marines aboard the carrier and its strike force. All three carrier groups are escorted by fast nuclear submarines, cruisers and missile destroyers. Upon its arrival, the Enterprise will head out of the Gulf, unless is departure is delayed by significant security concerns in the Gulf or Middle East regions. It will leave behind the two US Marine carriers the USS Wasp and the USS Kearsage , with thousands of marines and landing craft on their decks. According to our sources in Washington, the event which galvanized the US president into launching a new initiative on Iran was the Pakistan crisis. He calculated that, if Pervez Musharraf were to be overthrown, a new regime in Islamabad, whether or not it is Islamist, could well opt for close military and political ties with Tehran. The menace of a nuclear axis between Islamabad and Tehran must be prevented at all costs. Therefore, the pressure on Iran must be ratcheted up with all speed. The rulers of Tehran are fully aware of the sense of urgency in the White House about curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions by exposure and crippling sanctions and, DEBKAfile’s Iran sources report, are preparing counter-measures. On Nov. 6, Muhammad Ali Hosseini, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman was asked about the threat from the Revolutionary Guards Navy chief Gen. Ali Fadwi to deploy suicide fighters if needed was the official Tehran line. He replied: “Martyrdom is a holy phenomenon that is affirmed by the Islamic religion which regards defense against aggression as a duty. Thus martyrdom is also a valuable tool for deterring attacks.” Even the relatively moderate Iranian political circles feel bound to show the flag. On Nov. 4, the Iranian daily Aftab-e Yazd, which speaks for Tehran’s political “reformists” (president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s main opposition), quoted ex-members of Iran’s delegation to the IAEA on ElBaradei remark, which so enraged Washington, that he has found no evidence of Tehran developing nuclear weapons: “Trust is another issue; one has to see how much Al-Baradi’i will stand by his remarks in the future,” said one official. “I think it is unlikely he will not change them if pressured. Overall, I take a positive view of Al-Baradi’I’s statements. I believe he is acting in the framework of his duties. If he did not make these positive or peaceful statements, he would open the way for an attack by the West and the Zionists.” A second senior Iranian official added: “The Agency has a duty to examine a country’s past and present program. Even if a country shows it is deviating from the peaceful path, the agency is not tasked with taking punitive measures against that country, but must take a corrective measure.” Therefore, even circles in Tehran which are relatively moderate compared with the rabid president deny anyone the right to punish Iran, even if it is proven to be running a secret military nuclear program, only corrective measures which must also be negotiated. To keep them cowed, the Iranian president Monday, Nov. 12, called critics of his country's nuclear program “traitors” and vowed to expose “their collaboration with Iran's enemies.” DEBKAfile's Tehran sources report a mounting groundswell of criticism for Iran's nuclear program prompted Ahmadinejad's denunciation.
Archaeologist Uncovers Scriptures' Famed Wall
(Emergency dig finds tower built by Bible's Nehemiah)
Nov. 12...(WND) Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may want to see Israel wiped off the map and its Jews sent to Europe or Alaska, but an archaeological discovery announced this week marks an event recorded in the Bible when his country, Persia, at the time, literally helped put the Jewish people back on the map in their capital city of Jerusalem. Dr. Eilat Mazar, one of Israel's top archaeologists, ended her presentation Wednesday to the 13th Annual Conference of the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies on "New Studies on Jerusalem," with a surprise announcement. She had discovered remnants of the fifth century BC wall built by Nehemiah, the account recorded in the Old Testament book of the same name. According to the biblical account, Nehemiah served as cupbearer for the Persian King Artaxerxes in the city of Susa. The Persians had conquered the Babylonian empire that had destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC and taken most of the inhabitants of Judah into captivity in what is now modern Iraq.
The scritural account reads: In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart." Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, "Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" Then the king said to me, "What are you requesting?" So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, "If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' graves, that I may rebuild it."
Nehemiah's rebuilding of the city began with its walls, a project that was resisted by hostile neighbors who had occupied the area around Jerusalem in the Jews' absence. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. With tools in one hand and weapons in the other, Nehemiah's workmen toiled dawn to dusk, completing the wall in a record 52 days. Archaeological evidence for Nehemiah's project has been lacking. Jerusalem has been rebuilt, destroyed and rebuilt in the almost 2,500 years since. Mazar, who is perhaps best known for her recent excavation that many believe has revealed the palace of King David, was working on an emergency project to shore up remains of a tower long believed to date from the Hasmonean period, 142-37 BC, that was in danger of collapsing. The tower, said Mazar, had to have been built much earlier than previously thought and the pottery data placed it at the time the Bible says Nehemiah was building it. Nehemiah described gates in the wall around Jerusalem as well as several towers designed to protect the entrances to the city, among them the Tower of the Hundred, the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of the Ovens, and an unnamed tower "projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard" in the vicinity of Mazar's most recent dig.
Bush’s Annapolis Summit to be Followed by A Moscow Summit
Nov. 11...(Ha Aretz) A Mideast peace summit will be held in January 2008 in Moscow as a follow-up to the Annapolis conference slated to take place in the US later this month, a Saudi newspaper reported Saturday. The Alwatan Arabic-language daily also quoted Palestinian sources as saying that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to convince the US to incorporate Syria into the Annapolis talks. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is said to have discussed the issue with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in response to Abbas' efforts. Abbas has sent a high-ranking Fatah official to Syria to brief the Damascus government on the development, the paper reported. Last Wednesday, Syria’s ambassador to the US said the Anapolis Summit was a waste of time. In the past, Syria has stated that it will participate in the Annapolis talks only if it will deal with the possible return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel from Syria in 1967 during the Six-Day War.
Washington-Based Cleric working toward ‘Islamic State of North America’
Nov. 11...(IN THE NEWS) A Washington, DC, imam states explicitly on the website for his organization that he is part of a movement working toward replacement of the US government with “the Islamic State of North America” by 2050. With branches in Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Philadelphia, the group As-Sabiqun, or the Vanguard is under the leadership of Abdul Alim Musa in the nation’s capital. Musa’s declaration of his intention to help lead a takeover of America was highlighted by noted Islam observer Robert Spencer on his website Jihad Watch. Spencer told WND that figures such as Musa should not be ignored, “Not because they have the power to succeed, but because they may commit acts of violence to achieve their purpose.” Musa’s website declares: “Those who engage in this great effort require a high level of commitment and determination. We are sending out a call to the believers: Join with us in this great struggle to change the world!” Musa launched the group in the early 1990s at the Al-Islam mosque in Philadelphia. His group says it is influenced by the writings and life work of Muslim thinkers and leaders such as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb and Iranian revolutionary Ayatollah Khomenei. The writings of Al-Banna and Qutb figured prominently in al-Qaida’s formation. Musa’s organization says its leadership “has delivered numerous speeches in the United States and abroad, contributing their analyses and efforts to solve contemporary problems in the Muslim world and in urban America.” “The paramount goal of the movement is the establishment of Islam as a complete way of life in America,” the group declares. “This ultimate goal is predicated on the belief, shared by many Muslims worldwide, that Islam is fully capable of producing a working and just social, political, economic order.” The groups says it does not “advocate participation in the American political process as an ideal method for advancing Islamic issues in the US; instead, it believes in a strong and active outreach to the people of the US.” Spencer told WND he does not know of any direct influence Musa has on prominent Muslim leaders or on US, policymakers, but he says it’s “unclear how much ‘mainstream’ Muslim leaders harbor similar hopes, because no one dares question them about it.” As WND reported, the founder of the leading Islamic lobby group CAIR, the Council on Islamic-American Relations, reportedly told a group of Muslims in California they are in America not to assimilate but to help assert Islam’s rule over the country. CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper also has said, in a newspaper interview, he hopes to see an Islamic government over the US some day, brought about not by violence but through “education.” In London last summer, as WND reported, Muslims gathered in front of the London Central Mosque to applaud fiery preachers prophesying the overthrow of the British government, a future vision that encompasses an Islamic takeover of the White House and the rule of the Quran over America. Although As-Sabiqun is a Sunni movement, it has publicly voiced support for Shia movements and organizations such as the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah, which waged war on Israel in the summer of 2006.
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 5 THROUGH NOVEMBER 11
Reverberations From Israel’s Destruction of Syrian Reactor
Nov. 9...(review by David Dolan) Reverberations from Israel's September air strike against a Syrian nuclear facility continued to rocket around the tumultuous Middle East during October, with Israeli armed forces on full alert in case Damascus orders a delayed military response. Meanwhile a partial lifting of media censorship finally allowed the publication in Israel of the fact that a daring operation had indeed been carried out, which analysts say has at least partially restored Israel 's deterrence credibility, severely eroded during the 2006 inconclusive conflict with Lebanese Hizbullah militia forces. While Israeli leaders kept one eye glued on the tense northern border, American diplomatic efforts to resolve the long and bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict continued apace. Negotiations reached aserious snag when the Palestinians demanded that Israel agree to iron out full details of a final status peace accord before a planned international conference is held later this year outside Washington DC. Fresh revelations of just how far Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appears to be willing to go in order to sign a final treaty with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas rocked the Israeli political establishment during the month. Several members of Olmert's own Kadima party again threatened to bolt his coalition if the unpopular Premier actually agrees to abandon portions of Jerusalem to Palestinian control, as media reports indicated he is now fully prepared to do.
Senior Bush administration officials confirmed widespread media reports that Israeli jets had bombed and apparently destroyed a Syrian nuclear-linked target in the country's eastern desert in the early hours of September 6. The Washington Post was among several newspapers that quoted unnamed White House and Defense Department officials saying the target was no less than a nuclear reactor under construction there. The American ABC network reported that a mole operating in the area had taken secret detailed photographs of the inside of the targeted building site, confirming that it was a reactor being constructed along the lines necessary to provide enough material to eventually produce a nuclear bomb. A Syrian official stationed at United Nations headquarters in New York later confirmed for the first time that the target was indeed some sort of nuclear facility under construction. Earlier, Syrian leaders, including Dictator Bashar Assad, had claimed that the targeted structure was either an agricultural building or an abandoned army base. Speaking before the UN's Disarmament Commission, the Syrian diplomat termed the daring Israeli operation "an act of aggression." US leaders had known about the construction activity for some time, but had not shared that information immediately with their Israeli counterparts. The Damascus-based Assad regime is seemingly now scrambling to erase all evidence on the ground that a nuclear reactor was being built in the dry eastern desert, not far from the border with Iraq. Air surveillance pictures taken by American and Israeli spy satellites and jets had revealed that the site was probably a small but significant nuclear reactor. Experts said the reactor had similar features to several others located in North Korea. American officials told the Washington Post that the White House had agreed with Israeli leaders that urgent military action was called for to halt the nuclear construction process. The State Department's reported contention that the issue should first be raised with the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency before an air operation was launched was overruled by the White House, which was said to concur with Israeli officials that such a move would only give diplomatic cover for the Syrian regime to continue rapid construction activity, as limited UN sanctions have apparently done for Iran. As before, Israeli officials refused to confirm or deny the American news reports, even though strict military censorship upon the Israeli media and foreign journalists stationed in the country was partially lifted in late September. That at least permitted full publication for the first time of the widely known fact that a major air operation had been successfully carried out by highly trained Israeli Air Force pilots earlier in the month. Israeli officials again indicated that the censorship restrictions were basically enacted in order to lessen the chances that humiliated Syrian leaders would order a retribution military operation, if not launch an all-out war. A Syrian nuclear reactor that could potentially help produce future atomic weapons to be used against the small Jewish state was obviously not something that the Israeli government was willing to suffer very long. Still most Israeli security analysts believe that the daring IAF attack was also carried out soon after Israel confirmed that the building project had a nuclear connection in order to send a loud and clear warning to Syria's main regional ally, Iran: Your own openly declared nuclear program may be subjected to Israeli military action if it is not soon halted voluntarily. The action heightened concerns that some sort of Hizbullah attack against Israel could be pending, probably aided by Syria. The incident came just hours before the UN released a formal report stating that the Lebanese Shiite militia had not only fully rearmed following its war with Israel last year, but has actually "increased the capacity" it had at the beginning of that conflict. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon termed the report "deeply disconcerting." The UN openly stated that most of Hizbullah's new weapons flow is coming via Syria, financed largely by Iran.
Prime Minister Olmert made a lightning trip to Moscow in mid-October to hold urgent talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had just returned from a state visit to Iran. Senior Israeli leaders were upset when the increasingly autocratic Putin stated his opposition to slapping further UN economic sanctions on Tehran, contending that there is "no need" for them since there is no evidence that Iran possesses, or intends to produce, nuclear weapons. The Russian leader added that he would oppose any international military action to curb Iran's nuclear program. Olmert stated that Russia could "help stabilize the Middle East by giving due weight to Israel's security interests." In other words, Russia's actions of late, especially its military anti-tank and aircraft missile sales to Syria, and material support for Iran 's nuclear program, are helping to produce further instability in the region, which can only lead to more violence and conflict ahead. During a press conference mid-month, President George Bush repeated earlier statements that everything possible would be done to halt the program diplomatically, but if that fails, "all options" would be on the table. Vice President Dick Cheney echoed the Commander-in-Chief later in the month, saying in a speech before the Washington Institute for Near East Studies that the Iranian regime "continues to practice delay and deceit in an obvious effort to buy time." He said Iranian leaders were openly pursuing technology that would allow them to build nuclear weapons, adding that "our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice supported this position during the month, saying that the Shiite Iranian regime was "simply lying" when it maintains that its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes only.
America’s senior diplomat returned to the turbulent Middle East yet again during October, obstensively to further along the recently revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process. This came as puzzled Israeli analysts noted yet again that the current realities do not at all give any indication that a final peace treaty is even remotely achievable in the current political climate. They note that the Israeli scene is dominated by an Israeli premier whose popularity ratings remain at record lows. On the other side, the Palestinians are ruled by a weak PLO leader who lost control over one-third of his people and territory to the radical Islamic Hamas movement last June. Meanwhile, international diplomats are working on plans to transfer control over the most important real estate located in Jerusalem, if not in the entire world--the hallowed Temple Mount, to any entities other than Israel With violence of all kinds gripping the troubled Middle East and indeed the entire world, it is so good to proclaim that "The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty! The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength; indeed the world is firmly established, it will not be moved." (Psalm 93:1)
Israel Calls for Sacking of IAEA's ElBaradei
A senior Israeli cabinet member has accused the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of complacency towards Teheran's nuclear program and has called for its chief to be sacked.
Nov. 9...(Jerusalem Post) Shaul Mofaz, Israel's deputy prime minister and former military chief, demanded that Mohammed ElBaradei be replaced for failing to appreciate the urgency of Iran's nuclear ambitions. It is not the first time Mr ElBaradei has faced calls to go. He was criticized by American hawks for his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. "The policies followed by ElBaradei endanger world peace," Mofaz said. "His irresponsible attitude of sticking his head in the sand over Iran's nuclear program should lead to his impeachment." The attack appeared to have been prompted by a newspaper interview in which he said: "I want to get people away from the idea that Iran represents a clear and present danger and that we're now facing the decision whether to bombard Iran or let them have the bomb."
Israeli Intelligence: Abbas is Too Weak
A recently exposed joint document by the General Security Service (Shin Bet), the Mossad and military intelligence states that "even if understandings are reached in Annapolis, the chances of implementing them in the field are almost zero."
Nov. 9...(YNET) Army Radio reported Thursday morning that Israel's intelligence community considers Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a powerless leader, who even has difficulty controlling car thieves and drug dealers in his own territory. "There is a total disconnection between the leadership and the Palestinian people," read the document, and "the PA has no security apparatus capable of implementing agreements. The existing security forces are totally corrupt." On the other hand, according to the document the Palestinians are thought to be willing to accept a partial agreement regarding the refugee issue; specifically if Israel will allow entrance to 100,000 refugees over a period of 10 years. In the eyes of the intelligence community, such an agreement would be hard for the Palestinians to back down from once it is accepted, and would also win the support of other Arab countries. Despite the dire forecast regarding the Palestinians, the intelligence community says that Israel should consider the upcoming Annapolis peace summit as an historic opportunity for Israel to garner international support, including from the Arab representatives.
US: 'Israel May Strike Iran'
(Wednesday's statement by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran has 3,000 working uranium-enriching centrifuges could trigger an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, military sources were quoted by the London Times as saying.)
Nov. 8...(YNET) The American military sources were cited by the Times on Thursday as saying that 3,000 centrifuges would be a "tipping point” leading Israel to act. Despite stern US warnings in recent weeks, the Times report said, the Pentagon is reluctant to strike Iran at this point, but Israel is a “different matter,” according to the American sources. “Israel could do something when they get to around 3,000 working centrifuges. The Pentagon is minded to wait a little longer,” the Times quoted one American official as saying, adding that the statement was made before Ahmadinejad's statement today asking for more suicide martyrs. On Wednesday evening, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: "We cannot take any option off the table and we need to study operational aspects." The defense minister also called for increased economic and diplomatic steps to be taken. On Wednesday, the Iranian president declared: " We have now reached 3,000 machines." He was speaking before a crowd of thousands of Iranians in Birjand in eastern Iran, in a show of defiance of international demands to halt the program believed to be masking the country's nuclear arms efforts. Earlier this week, Yossi Baidatz, head of research at Military Intelligence, said Iran's current regime is not in danger of collapsing and may go nuclear by the end of 2009.
Hizbullah: We're Preparing for Upcoming War
militant Shiite organization says Hizbullah training for future conflicts, just
recently conducted major maneuver; Nasrallah's right-hand-man claims UNIFIL
forces aware of war preparations.)
Senate Probe Targets High-profile Televangelists
Nov. 8...(American Family News) The ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is investigating the ministries of six well-known televangelists for alleged financial misconduct. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has faxed letters to the ministries asking them to turn over their financial statements and records to the committee by December 6. The six ministries under investigation are led by Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland, and Benny Hinn. In the multi-page letters to the various ministries, Grassley requests audited financial information as well as detailed information on aspects such as executive compensation, and real and personal assets. Grassley says his office was alerted by numerous television and print journalists and third-party whistleblowers who claim the ministries are using their tax-exempt status as churches to fund lavish lifestyles. "It would be things like Bentleys, Rolls Royces, corporate jets, $23,000 marble commodes, and very expensive homes. That would be kind of an example of money down the toilet," explains Grassley. The Iowa lawmaker suggests that his fellow Christians, when examining such "lavish" accommodations, think in terms of Jesus "going into the city on a simple donkey," and question the extent to which corporate jets are needed to expand the ministry of Jesus Christ. According to Grassley, the investigations have been going on for more than five years, and that other non-profits have been investigated as well. "And one of the things we found with other non-profits that might be an issue here is governance and transparency," says Grassley. He believes "the responsibility of a Christian church is good stewardship," and during the interview with OneNewsNow quoted from a 2003 Christianity Today editorial that read in part, "financial transparency is a must even if it's not legally required." The senator says he might hold hearings on the matter if the ministries do not cooperate with his investigation. He also stated that the probe might expand to other televangelist ministries. Associated Press is pointing out that none of the ministries Grassley has contacted belongs to the organization known as the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). But if they did, says ECFA president Ken Behr, they would be facing the same type of inquiry regarding governance and financial transparency. According to Behr, despite the fact the ministries do not belong to ECFA, the organization still receives "a lot of inquiries" about them. "They're very large ministries," he notes. "There have been rumors of large salaries and compensation for a number of years. I think it's good to get to the heart of it," he tells AP. The government has legitimate concerns about religious ministries, says Behr, and a right to investigate whether those ministries might be overpaying televangelists. He argues that preachers should not be in the ministry to get rich. "What the government is going to be concerned about, and what Senator Grassley is going to be concerned about, is what's called 'private inurement,' which is the whole idea that I'm lining my own pockets, I'm doing this ministry in order to get rich," he explains. Toward that end, he continues, such inquiries must determine if such things as salaries, travel, and vacations funded by the ministry are benefiting the work of the non-profit, or being used as a way to take money from the donors' hands and "put it into the hands of the people who are running these ministries," he says. As far as Behr is concerned, the ministries should welcome the opportunity to be transparent. He believes it is time for them to understand the role of an independent board of directors and how important financial integrity is, not only to the government, but also to ministry donors.
Rabbis Warn Bush: Annapolis will Bring Destruction to US
right-wing rabbis writes open letter to US president demanding he cancel
Annapolis summit or risk provoking 'wrath of the almighty.' Rabbis assert
Katrina disaster a result of America's support of 2005 disengagement, say
California fires a warning)
Thousands of Palestinians Apply for Israeli Citizenship
(Intensive talks over division of Jerusalem has prompted its Palestinian residents to make a move once considered the ultimate treason)
Nov. 7...(YNET) Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem calling to set up an appointment with the Interior Ministry to apply for an Israeli citizenship will discover the next available interview date is only in April. In the months leading up to the upcoming Annapolis peace conference talk of a future division of the city has prompted a staggering increase in nationalization requests by Palestinians seeking to escape life under the Palestinian Authority. Some 250,000 Palestinians currently reside in Jerusalem. Only 12,000 of them have sought to obtain an Israeli citizenship since 1967, an average of about 300 new citizens a year. But over the past four months the Interior Ministry has registered an unprecedented 3,000 applications, primarily residents of the Arab neighborhoods unlikely to remain under Israeli sovereignty according to the political initiative currently on the agenda. The 240,000 non-naturalized Palestinians in the city currently hold the status of permanent residents. As Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem they were also eligible to participate in the elections held by the Palestinian Authority. As accepting Israeli citizenship was viewed by many within the community as tantamount to treason, most Palestinians opted to remain permanent residents and enjoy the benefits of living under Israeli sovereignty, full welfare rights, municipal voting rights and unrestricted movement, without putting their loyalty to the Palestinian Authority into question. The average Palestinian family in East Jerusalem currently receives a $770 monthly stipend from Israel. "They've weighed the pros and cons of life under the Palestinian Authority and those under Israel and they've chosen," said residents in East Jerusalem of their naturalization-seeking neighbors. 33-year-old Samar Qassam said his motivation to apply for Israeli citizenship was to seek a better future for his family. Along with his wife and son, Qassam once lived in the Old City but recently moved to Beit Safafa, an Arab village south of Jerusalem. "I was born in Jerusalem, this is where I grew up and this is where I make my living. My entire life is here. My wife comes from the West Bank, so I do fear she may be deported and therefore filed a naturalization request for her as well. I want to keep living here with my wife and child without having to worry about our future. That's why I want an Israeli citizenship," Qassam said. "I don't know what the future holds. There's talk of the Palestinian Authority coming to Jerusalem. Personally, I don't think that will happen. But only God knows what will happen. I work as a mechanic for an Israeli company, I have both Jewish and Arab friends. I speak Hebrew and go out to Tel Aviv and Akko in the evenings. I just want a better future," he said.
Syria Reiterates Demand to put Golan on Annapolis Summit Agenda
Nov. 7...(Ha Aretz) Syria is holding firm on its demand that the Golan Heights be among the items on the agenda of the upcoming Middle East peace conference scheduled to take place in late November at Annapolis. Amid speculation that Washington could soon dispatch official invitations to the summit, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah al-Dardari told BBC radio Wednesday that, "When such an invitation, and if such an invitation should come, it should include an agenda with the Golan Heights clearly placed on that agenda. If not, whey should we be there in Annapolis?" Asked whether the conference could achieve any kind of peace deal without Syria, Dardari said: "Definitely not... No peace without Syria in the Middle East." Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence believes that the US-sponsored summit is likely to fail, and that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas might step down as a result. Abbas reportedly views the Annapolis conference as the last opportunity to resuscitate the peace process. If he does go home in the wake of a failure of the talks, without a successor acceptable to Fatah, Abbas' departure would create a lacuna in the Palestinian leadership and increase Hamas influence. According to Military Intelligence, Abbas' inner circle is cut off from the Fatah rank and file, and has difficulty exerting its authority over the various military wings of Fatah (the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the various West Bank cities) and its political activists. This lack of full control at the grass-roots level might make it difficult for the PA to fulfill its obligations as part of a diplomatic process. As Haaretz reported a few weeks ago, MI believes the chances for success at Annapolis are "close to nil." The IDF believes the main obstacle is disagreement over the Palestinians meeting their obligations as part of stage 1 of the road map, set forward by the Bush administration in 2002: dismantling terror infrastructure. The Palestinian Authority says it has met this obligation, and is not responsible for the Qassam rocket fire on the western Negev since the attacks emanate from the Gaza Strip, which is no longer under its control. Israel Defense Forces intelligence officers say the PA's main function has been reduced to paying salaries to PA workers and security forces. However, the IDF also notes that security cooperation between the Shin Bet and the PA's preventive security forces and its general intelligence force has been renewed recently and ties are much closer. The PA security forces have been transmitting important information to Israel and have frequently thwarted terror attacks. Former senior IDF officers who took part in the Camp David talks say they are also concerned that over the lack of experience of Israeli representatives to the Annapolis talks, especially in the face of the years of experience the PA's negotiators have had in talks with Israel.
Turkish Troops Poised on Iraq Border
Nov. 7...(AP) Tens of thousands of Turkish troops were poised Tuesday on the border with Iraq awaiting the order to attack Kurdish fighters, and President Abdullah Gul said the country will do "what it believes to be right" to tame the rebels. But with winter rapidly approaching in the mountainous region, and pressure from the US to avoid an all-out cross-border incursion, officials and experts said Turkey will likely be looking toward a limited offensive involving raids and aerial assaults. Several possibilities are currently being discussed, including F-16 strikes on rebel positions, helicopter raids and special forces missions, according to a government official familiar with the planning. "The area is heavily mined and a big incursion with tens of thousands of troops is out of the question," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. With the Turkish government talking openly for weeks about the likelihood of an attack, the official said intelligence information shows the guerrillas have been evacuating their camps and melting away into cities and other regions. The US and Iraq have been pressing Turkey to avoid a major cross-border attack on Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, rebel bases in northern Iraq out of fear such an incursion would bring instability to what has been one of the calmest areas in Iraq. President Bush met in Washington with Erdogan yesterday and promised him the United States would share military intelligence in the hunt for PKK rebels. Following that meeting, Erdogan strongly suggested an attack was imminent. In northern Iraq, Osman Ocalan, brother of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, told AP some fighters had moved toward Iran, and that there were now more PKK fighters there than in northern Iraq. Kurds are a major ethnic group straddling four Middle Eastern countries, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, totaling about 20 million people. Most live in Turkey, primarily in the southeast, where the PKK has been fighting for autonomy since 1984.
Israel Accuses IAEA Chief of Playing into Iran's Hands
Nov. 7...(Israel DAILY) Campaigning for tougher sanctions on Tehran, Israel went on the offensive Tuesday against the UN nuclear watchdog, accusing its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, of playing into Iran's hands over its atomic program. The campaign comes with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) poised to publish a new report on Iran's nuclear ambitions, to serve as a key part of further discussions at the United Nations on whether to impose a third round of sanctions on Tehran. "Unfortunately there are foreign officials playing the Iranians' game by contributing to the Iranian strategy of foot-dragging," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev told AFP. "From this point of view the International Atomic Energy Agency and its leadership are guilty," Regev added. "One could ask whether the agency agreed to fulfill the role the Iranians want it to play, to allow Tehran to implement its strategy," he said. Permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, plus Germany, are backing a third UN Security Council resolution and vote on Iran, unless upcoming IAEA and EU reports show "a positive outcome." But China and Russia, which could in theory veto further sanctions, have yet to call publicly for more punishment against the Islamic republic. Israel and its chief ally, the United States, charge that Tehran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons, claims that Tehran flatly denies. Senior Israeli Army intelligence officer Yossi Beidetz told Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran could acquire the bomb by 2009. "Assuming Iran is not faced with difficulties, the most severe scenario is that Iran could have a nuclear bomb by the end of 2009," he was quoted by committee members as saying. Israel, which belongs to the IAEA but has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is widely assumed to be the Middle East's sole, if undeclared nuclear-armed nation. Last month, on a tour of UN Security Council members to push for tougher sanctions against Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also criticized the IAEA chief. "If ElBaradei thinks that an Iranian bomb in three years time does not bother him, it certainly worries me, even extremely," Olmert said in France. ElBaradei said in an interview with France's Le Monde newspaper that Iran would need "between three and eight years" to develop a nuclear bomb and that there were was no immediate threat. "I want to get people away from the idea that Iran represents a clear and present danger and that we're now facing the decision whether to bombard Iran or let them have the bomb," he said.
Palestinian State at any Price: Rice Lays Down the Law to Olmert
Nov. 7...(Israel Insider) US Secretary of Sate Rice has warned that Israel had to help out Mahmoud Abbas by giving him a State, or be blamed for what would follow: "if we do not act now to show the Palestinians a way forward, others will show them a way forward. My fear is that if Palestinian reformers cannot deliver on the hope of an independent state, then the moderate center could collapse forever and the next generation of Palestinians could become lost souls of unbridled extremism." Rice, in her public address, was her charming best, remarking on "what a great pleasure it is to be back here in Israel. It seems like yesterday, actually, maybe it was just yesterday that I was here. But seriously, she continued: "I love visiting this great country and I remember coming here for the first time a number of years ago and I said at that time and I still believe that it was like coming home to a place that I had never been." She lauded "my good friend and your great leader, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert" and even "the extraordinary efforts of the Clinton Administration," but pointed out that previous efforts at "bringing peace negotiations had collapsed" and led to an intensification of violence. But she stresses that in 2001 as in 1967 "Israel occupied the future Palestine and Palestinian leadership was complicit in terror." She spoke about the "different approach" of the Bush Administration to test the Palestinian leadership through the "Road Map," insisting that: "in our view, the security of the democratic Jewish state ultimately requires the creation of a responsible Palestinian state." She admitted that "I know that many people, perhaps many of you, think that our focus on democracy might have been a bit naive and I've heard, 'Well, it backfired with Hamas' election.' Well, let me say, categorically, I disagree with that conclusion. The leaders of Hamas always had the power to affect decisions of war and peace. What they never had was the responsibility for exercising that power and that is what democracy gave them." Rice viewed what followed as a success story for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. "The Palestinians then held Hamas accountable for the first time and so did the international community. We confronted Hamas with the very choice it had always refused to make: you can be a political party or you can be a terrorist group, but you cannot be both. The leaders of Hamas have unfortunately made their choice and they've chosen the path of violence. And the international community has remained united around the only responsible policy: isolating Hamas until it is ready to choose peace." Her optimism for the leader of the West Bank enclave was unbounded. "That violent extremism of Hamas stands in stark contrast to the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, the legitimately elected president of all Palestinians, who won a clear mandate to seek peace with Israel. President Abbas and his government are demonstrating that they are real partners for peace. President Abbas is showing that he and his government have the will to fight terrorism and govern effectively even if they do not always have the capacity. This is a clarifying choice for the Palestinian people between the path of peace and the path of violence. Ignoring Israeli public opinion polls that show majority opposition to a Palestinian state and additional land concessions to the Palestinians, Rice asserted that "Most Israelis now believe that a peaceful Palestinian state is in the national interest of Israel and that true security requires finding a way to end the conflict and with it, the occupation that began in 1967." Rice also imagined non-existent public support for peace with Israel among Palestinian Arabs, who have consistently favored armed struggle, including suicide bombing, to eliminate Israel, not coexist with the. "Most Palestinians believe that Israel will always be their neighbor and most believe that no Palestinian state will ever be born through violence. And among the Arab states, as they recently made clear in reaffirming the Arab League Peace Initiative, the question now is not whether Israel should exist, but on what terms to make peace with Israel." Rice insists, however, her belief that "we have a real opportunity now to advance the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state." She declares: "We can succeed; failure is simply not an option." Rice waxes hopeful that the extremists will cause the relatively moderates to band together. "Because of the threat of violent extremism, the two-state solution is, frankly, more urgent now than ever. Responsible Palestinian leaders are genuinely committed to fighting terrorism and building a democratic state, but they are overcoming a crippling legacy of misrule. These are tall orders and the Palestinians need partners. They need a realistic prospect of statehood and we need to help Palestinian reformers show that they can deliver on this hope; for as we read in Proverbs, 'Where there is no vision, the people perish.'" Ultimately, she says, it is up to Israel to give the Palestinians what she thinks they deserve, as it is Israel's fault if she continues the status quo that, she claims, is responsible for radicalizing youth, not just Palestinians but Muslims everywhere, as opposed to the Islamic ideology. "And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my fear, that if we do not act now to show the Palestinians a way forward, others will show them a way forward. My fear is that if Palestinian reformers cannot deliver on the hope of an independent state, then the moderate center could collapse forever and the next generation of Palestinians could become lost souls of unbridled extremism." Rice closed her speech by referring to a story about how the expulsion of Jews from their homes was a good and necessary thing for Israel, ignoring all that has happened since: "Ariel Sharon once told me a story. It was before the disengagement from Gaza. He told me that he went out to talk with Israeli settlers because he, of course, had been the father of the settler movement. He went to one family and explained to them why it was important to share the land and this man, the head of the family, said, "Let me show you something," and he showed Sharon the mezuzah above their house and he said, "You personally put that above our house. You personally told us that this was good for Israel, for us to settle here, and now you tell us that we have to leave for the good of Israel." Sharon was deeply pained by that. I could see it when he told me the story. But that is what great leaders do. They make hard decisions confidently for the sake of peace." Rice, for one, is confident about the Palestinians. "Israelis have waited too long for the security that will come living side by side with a peaceful and democratic neighbor. Palestinians have waited too long for the dignity that will come with an independent state. We have all waited too long for peace and we should wait no longer. I believe that most Israelis want to end the occupation and that most Arab states and most Palestinians want to end the conflict. And I believe that we have two democratic leaders in Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas who know that the best way to serve their citizens is to build a basis for peace."
Abbas Rejects Israel as Jewish state, Claims Undivided Palestinian Vontrol of Temple Mount
(Yet Olmert is going to Annapolis on Nov. 26)
Nov. 6...(DEBKA) US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice decided Monday, Nov. 5, to set a date for the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland she has been promoting. It will take place on Nov. 26 even though her talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah with Israeli and Palestinian leaders uncovered assent on only one small point: both sides agree that the event need not be preceded by accord on all the core issues of the dispute. In setting the date, Rice made the best of Palestinian intransigence on six major points. The noes she encountered in Ramallah are disclosed here by DEBKAfile:
1. The Annapolis declaration will include Palestinian recognition of Israel, but not as a Jewish state.
2. The boundaries of the future Palestinian state will follow the pre-1967 War lines with minor adjustments through territorial swaps. A few hundreds of square meters may be offered on the West Bank in return for areas in central Israel, not the Negev.
3. Palestinian sovereignty over Temple Mount, the holiest shrine of the Jewish people, must be undivided and include the Jewish place of worship at the Western Wall.
4. The right of return for 1948 refugees is absolute and non-negotiable.
5. The future Palestinian state will enjoy full sovereignty, including its air and electromagnetic space and underground resources, such as water.
6. Negotiations after the Annapolis conference must be concluded by Aug. 2008. The Palestinians chose that date, our sources report, because it coincides with the Republican Party’s primary for electing its presidential candidate and bid President Bush farewell. Notwithstanding the Palestinians’ inflexibility on all the core issues of the dispute, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is determined to attend the conference declaring that Israel has at last found a partner for peace talks and without the meeting, the Middle East will plunge into catastrophe.
IDF: Nuclear Iran by end of 2009
(Army's Intelligence branch claims Iranian regime getting stronger, will stay in power; Hizbullah gathering strength as well. DM: Every passing day brings us closer to broad military incursion in Gaza)
Nov. 6...(YNET) In a briefing to the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday, Yossi Baidatz, head of research at Military Intelligence, updated government officials on the strength of Israel's foes. According to the brigadier-general, Iran’s current regime is not in danger of collapsing and may go nuclear by the end of 2009, Syria is upsizing its weapons arsenal and Hezbollah is getting stronger. On the Lebanese front, Baidatz said: "Hizbuallah is learning how to live with UNIFL, and they are getting stronger. They carried out a training exercise to convey two messages: one, that they are unfazed by Israeli military maneuvers and, two, as an internal message to showcase Hizbullah's strength in Lebanon." In Damascus, Syria continues to strengthen its military capabilities by acquiring Russian-made anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft systems, according to the intelligence chief. In addition, the Bashar Assad regime continues to transfer weapons from Iran to Hizbullah in Lebanon Defense Minister Ehud Barak also weighed in on the discussion and said that a wide-scale military operation in Gaza is looming overhead. "We have the ability to act. The considerations have not yet formed the basis for a major campaign in Gaza, but every day that passes brings us close to one—including the necessity to deal with the tunnels and the smuggling. I believe that if the flow of weapons and the (rocket and mortar) shootings continue, sooner or later, we will be forced to initiate a broad offensive in the Strip."
Annapolis Conference in Late November
Nov. 6...(Jerusalem Post) A senior American official said overnight Monday that the Annapolis peace conference would most likely be held in the last week of November, adding that apart from the main players, participating countries would be represented at the ministerial level. "We are on track for somewhere before the end of this month, I hope. I don't see any reason to deviate from that schedule, but you never say never in the Middle East," said the official, a member of US Secretary of State's Condoleezza Rice's entourage during her recent visit to the region. Rice said only that the meeting in Maryland would take place "before the end of the year." During the conference Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are expected to issue a joint declaration that would pave the way for negotiations on the core issues, including Jerusalem and the refugees. Deputy PM Haim Ramon hinted that these issues would in fact be raised during the parley. Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to resign if these matters are discussed during the summit. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan have warned in recent days that the region would plunge into chaos should the peace conference fail. On Monday exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said the summit was meant to distract the region as Washington prepared for an attack against Iran. "Strategically, it (the US) is setting the stage and covering up for the upcoming American war in the region," he told a press conference at a forum of Palestinian intellectuals in Damascus.
The Prophetic Lesson of US-Pakistani Relations
Nov. 5...(Bill Wilson, KIN) The Bush Administration’s investment in Pakistan’s military of over $10 billion in the last six years may be in jeopardy as Pakistan’s military ruler Pervez Musharraf went against American advice and suspended the Constitution in his country and declared martial law. The move raises a lot of questions over what has been the staunchest Islamic ally of the United States in the war against terrorism. The drums of diplomacy are beating loudly at the US State Department as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is signaling a review of the relationship with Pakistan and strongly urged that Musharraf commit to holding elections as soon as possible. The state of emergency was declared by Musharraf ostensibly to thwart ongoing terrorist attacks against the Pakistanis, largely due to American support. There is, however, a more disturbing side to the story. While the Musharraf regime cracked down hard on political protesters such as some 1,400 opposition lawyers, there were thousands of Islamic extremists that were protesting undisturbed. DebkaFile security analysts reported that pro-Taliban radicals exchanged 200 Pakistani troops for 28 Taliban prisoners. Even greater is the concern that much of Musharraf’s military is infiltrated with al Qaeda and Taliban extremists. This has placed the United States government in a quandary. Over $10 billion has been spent to build up Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts in the past six years. Yet Musharraf is in the precarious position of having to go soft on some of the terrorists in order to keep his regime in place. Now, as the US threatens to withdraw further aid and demands elections, the more tenuous the relationship between Musharraf and the Bush Administration becomes; the Bush Administration risks pushing the Musharraf regime toward alliances with the very terrorists that billions of dollars of US taxpayers money has been invested to eradicate. The lesson in all this is that Islam, whether it is friendly today or an enemy today cannot be trusted. Islam is an entirely different system than that of the West. Islam uses whatever means possible to advance its cause and if that means feigning allegiance with an enemy to gain and maintain power, it will. And if it means betrayal, Islam justifies the duplicity by saying that it should not be dealing with infidels. The Bible is very clear about Islam when it speaks prophetically of the Islamic forefather Ishmael in Genesis 16:12, “And he (Ishmael) will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” Ten Billion dollars and six years later, the Bush Administration is learning a lesson it could have learned by reading the Bible.
FOJ Note: Whereas the Bush Administration is intent on pushing democracy in the Middle East, it should be noted that if Musharraf (as it would be in most Muslim countries) held democratic elections, as stipulated by Secretary Rice, the Islamist terrorist organizations would likely win those elections, as was recently the case in Palestine. FOJ has long maintained that “democracy” was not the solution to the Middle East Conflict, but rather, the solution is to Christianize the region! The truth of God’s word is what sets the captive free, and Islam is not the truth. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999, cited growing Islamic extremism and hostile judges for imposing emergency rule on Saturday over the nuclear-armed nation of 160 million people. Musharraf may have a point too, for Al Qaeda is stirring to gain supremacy in Pakistan, and thus gain control over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and eliminate an ally of the US, and much to Iran’s joy. The US has accorded Islamabad, a key ally in the "war on terror," some 11 billion dollars in financial and military aid since 2001. Funding for Pakistan's operations under operation “Enduring Freedom” against Al Qaeda runs "about 80 million dollars a month, while the US Congress approved the sale of 36 F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan this summer. If Pakistan holds democratic elections, and former President Bhutto loses, Pakistan could prove to be a falling domino leading to a US retreat.
Secretary of State Rice Urges Pakistan's Musharraf to Cut Army Affiliation, Restore Democracy
Nov. 5...(MSN) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday said Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf should cut his affiliation with the army and restore civilian rule. At a news conference, Rice urged Musharraf to follow through on past promises to "take off his uniform." "I want to be very clear. We believe that the best path for Pakistan is to quickly return to a constitutional path and then to hold elections," she said. "The more quickly and the more urgently that the Pakistani leadership and President Musharraf act on their stated desire to get back to a constitutional path, it will be for the better of everyone," she said. Over the weekend, Musharraf announced he would suspend his country's constitution, oust the country's top judge and deploy troops to fight what he called rising Islamic extremism. In Pakistan on Monday, legions of baton-wielding police clashed with lawyers to squash protests against Musharraf on Monday, while international pressure mounted against the imposition of emergency powers that have led to more than 1,500 arrests. Rice said Sunday the US would review aid to Pakistan. But on a Mideast trip overshadowed by the unfolding crisis in nuclear-armed Pakistan, Rice indicated the US would not suspend aid wholesale. The US has provided about US$11 billion (euro7.6 billion) to Pakistan since 2001, when Musharraf allied his presidency with Washington after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
US May Withhold Billions from Pakistan
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday the United States would review billions of dollars in financial aid to ally Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule. Rice, who was speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, also urged Musharraf to call elections and reiterated US displeasure at emergency rule, which she advised against in two phone calls with Pakistan's president on October 31. "Obviously we are going to have to review the situation with aid, in part because we have to see what may be triggered by certain statutes," Rice said. Musharraf imposed emergency rule on Saturday in a bid to reassert his flagging authority against challenges from Islamist militants, a hostile judiciary and political rivals. "I am disappointed at his decision. I think the decision sets Pakistan back in terms of the considerable progress it had made along the road to democratic change," Rice said. Pakistan this year is receiving about $700 million in US economic and military assistance and is expected to receive more than $800 million in 2008. It also receives billions of dollars in counter-terrorism assistance. "We have to be very cognizant of the fact that some of the assistance that has been going directly to Pakistan is directly related to counter-terrorism missions. This is a complicated matter," Rice said. Rice, on a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, said the United States had made clear to Pakistan's leaders before emergency rule was announced that such a move would not be supported by the United States. The United States has been pushing hard for Pakistan to go ahead with elections, which were due in January. On Sunday, Pakistani leaders indicated the timetable was under review. "It is in the best interests of Pakistan and the Pakistani people for there to be a prompt return to the constitutional course, for there to be an affirmation that elections will be held for a new parliament and for all parties to act with restraint in what is obviously a very difficult situation," Rice told reporters. Middle East envoy Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, said the situation was "obviously a tragedy for Pakistan."
Blair: Israel Needs Psychological Shift
Nov. 5...(Jerusalem Post) Middle East envoy Tony Blair on Sunday urged Israel to make a "psychological shift" from indifference and skepticism about the prospects of progress with the Palestinians to an active determination to "make it happen on the right terms." He said Israel, which turns 60 in May, would "absolutely" still be here in another 60 years, but that "to guarantee its long-term security I believe it needs a viable Palestinian state." If Israelis feel the same, Blair told The Jerusalem Post, then "the psychological shift that has to happen in the Israeli thinking is to move from saying, 'Well, if it happens, it happens, but frankly I'm skeptical about the whole thing,' to saying, 'Okay, I'm going to try and make it happen.'" He said he was "sure that the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is absolutely up for it. I've got no doubt about that at all. The next few weeks will tell whether everyone is prepared to get behind that." At the same time, however, Blair stressed Israel should not "yield" at all on security. And he stopped short of expressing full confidence that the Palestinian leadership, under Mahmoud Abbas, was capable of carrying out the necessary reform to meet Israel's vital security needs. It was "not impossible" for the Palestinians to transform themselves into the kind of "stable partner for Israel" that Jordan constitutes, he said. But the new Palestinian leadership is living "with a very long legacy from the past," Blair said, in a reference to the Yasser Arafat era. The question for Abbas and his colleagues was, "Do they break out of that whole mindset? Do they regard themselves as people who are going to take the risks, shoulder the responsibility and get it done or not? All I say to Israelis," he went on, "is, well, put it to the test. What is the alternative?" Blair said he fully understood that Israel's mistrust of the Palestinian leadership was a consequence of bitter experience. Indeed, he had been telling critics of Israel that, in the light of what went wrong in the Oslo years and in the wake of the Gaza disengagement, he too, were he leading Israel, would be wary of dramatic territorial withdrawal and giving the Palestinians' statehood. "When you're saying to Israel, 'We now want you to pull out of everywhere and give the Palestinians a state, you know, any of us who were in the shoes of the Israeli prime minister or any Israeli minister would be saying 'Whoa.'" Nonetheless, he went on, "the danger in this situation, if I can be very blunt about it, is that there have been 60 years of failure of negotiation, and the world cannot survive its continued failure.
US: Hamas, Hizballah Setting up Shop in Mexico
Nov. 5...(Israel Today) Washington believes the Palestinian terror group Hamas and the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist militia Hizballah are looking to set up operations in Mexico with the aim of eventually infiltrating the United States, according to a former CIA counter-terrorism official. Robert Grenier, who until recently was head of the CIA's counter-terrorism center, told a press conference in Mexico last Thursday that the Muslim terrorist organizations see the illegal immigration and drug trafficking networks in the Latin American nation as the most effective way to move people and equipment into the US. Grenier said that the Bush Administration fears both Hamas and Hizballah may already have sleeper cells operating in Mexico. Hamas and Hizballah have both threatened in the past to extend their war against Israel to include the United States.
Abbas: Aiming for Peace Deal before Bush Leaves Office
Nov. 5...(Israel Daily) Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that Israel, the Palestinians and the United States have agreed to aim for a regional peace settlement before President George W. Bush steps down in January 2009. During a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Ramallah, Abbas said there is a real possibility for achieving a peace deal with Israel by then, but also called on Israel to start meeting some of its short-term peace obligations, such as a settlement freeze. "I agree with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that there is a real possibility to achieve peace, and I say we are serious to use this opportunity to reach this historical peace," Abbas said. Abbas said he has received encouraging signs from Israel and the US, but expects tough going in the negotiations. He called on Israel to begin immediately meeting its obligations under the first stage of the road map peace plan. The plan requires Israel to freeze settlement construction, remove illegal settlement outposts and ease Palestinian movement. Abbas said the Palestinians are ready to do their part, including trying to disarm Palestinian militants. During the news conference, Rice said she hoped a US-led Middle East conference in Annapolis later this year would be the launching pad for "negotiations that I sincerely hope could achieve their goals within the time remaining to the Bush administration." Rice met in Ramallah on Monday with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She was also to meet with lead Palestinian negotiator for the upcoming peace conference, Ahmed Qureia. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said earlier Monday the Palestinians have made progress in carrying out their obligations, while Israel has done little. Settlement construction continues and the vast majority of the outposts have not been dismantled. "It seems that the Israelis have not read their obligations, Erekat said. "The Palestinians will ask Rice to give each side a list of its obligations, with a timetable for implementation." "The US should be the judge, and every week say something about who is implementing, he said." In a speech Sunday night, Rice warned that if the conference fails to produce progress toward setting up a Palestinian state, Muslim extremists would increase their influence. If we do not act now to show the Palestinians a way forward, others will show them a way forward," she said. Rice told a gathering of scholars, leaders and former negotiators that both sides must take advantage of the current opportunity for peace talks. "Palestinians have waited too long for the dignity that will come with an independent state," she said. "We have all waited too long for peace.
Nov. 5...(DEBKA) Taking part in the American Persian Gulf exercise in progress since Nov. 2 are the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, its strike force and two smaller helicopter carriers, the USS Wasp and USS Kearsage, which are marine amphibian assault craft. Commander Jay Chambers, who also heads the combined 59th Task Force, described the exercise as tough and demanding but good preparation for realistic scenarios. The maneuver began shortly after Iranian Gen. Ali Fahdavi stated that the Revolutionary Guards Naval forces under his command are ready and able to strike at oil export traffic heading out of the Gulf region. The statement on Oct. 29 was taken as an implicit Iranian threat to block oil tanker traffic through the Straits of Hormuz chokepoint. Fahdavi added that Iranian suicide teams were also braced to attack any Gulf target. Friday, Nov. 2, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa said: “While they (Iranians) don’t have the bomb yet, they are developing it, or the capability for it.” He was the first Arab ruler to spell this threat out publicly. At the same time, representatives of the five UN Security Council’s permanent members and Germany who met in London Friday, Nov. 2, again postponed for two-and-a half weeks a decision to bring a third round of sanctions against Iran before the UN Security Council. They agreed to hold sanctions in abeyance until the international nuclear watchdog’s director Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei is ready to present his latest report on Tehran’s adherence to the resolutions calling for its halt in uranium enrichment. DEBKAfile’s sources in Moscow and Tehran report that Moscow has warned Tehran that Moscow can no longer defend Iran’s nuclear program against tough international sanctions. This was the message from president Vladimir Putin that the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov carried to Tehran on his sudden visit of Oct. 30 for a meeting with president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Lavrov explained that Moscow will have no choice but to vote with the West at the Security Council and suspend Russian work and nuclear fuel supplies for the Bushehr nuclear reactor. Putin delivered the same sharp warning to Iranian leaders during his own visit to Tehran on Oct. 16. He also repeated his offer to relocate Iran’s uranium enrichment production to Russia under IAEA supervision. So far, he has received no reply. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that a similar proposal was put before Tehran by Saudi foreign minister Prince Saudi al Faisal Friday, Nov. 2. He proposed setting up a Gulf consortium of six members for this purpose, one of which would be Iran, and placing the project under nuclear watchdog oversight. This way, the Saudi minister explained, no single member including Iran would be able to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. Tehran promptly agreed to join the proposed Gulf consortium but said nothing about giving up its own enrichment installations in Isfahan and Natanz, or the heavy water in Arak for producing plutonium. DEBKAfile’s Iranian and military sources emphasize that this upsurge of military motion and diplomacy do not alter the two key elements of the crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear weapons plans:
1. The radical faction led by Ahmadinejad has not been deterred from pushing for Iran to run full speed ahead towards a nuclear weapon, unheeding of possible American military retaliation. This faction appears to be gaining the upper hand against the pragmatists who, led by Supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, hold fast to the argument that a military showdown with American is unnecessary because Iran can afford to be satisfied with a weapons capability, just short of actual production.
2. All the parties involved in the crisis, the US, Iran and the rest of the Gulf and Middle East nations are all geared up for a US-Israel armed confrontation against Iran.
Musharraf Leaning toward Understanding with pro-Taliban Extremists
Nov. 5...(DEBKA) Monday, two days after the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency, police used tear gas and batons to break up a protest of 2,000 lawyers in Lahore High Court, arresting 350. At the same time, thousands of Muslim extremists were allowed to demonstrate undisturbed after 500 opposition Jamaat e-Islami party members were detained in southern and central provinces amid the growing turmoil in the country. Sunday, pro-Taliban radicals in South Waziristan handed over 200 Pakistani troops captured last August in return for 28 Taliban prisoners. Saturday, Nov. 3, DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources reported: The White House demand for Musharraf to reverse his emergency measures is counter-productive for the US-NATO war on al Qaeda, Taliban, likewise US reconsideration of economic aid. His declaration of a state of emergency, suspension of the Pakistani constitution and expulsion of the chief justice on Nov. 3, are likely to distance Islamabad from cooperation with the US-NATO war on al Qaeda and Taliban. Both terrorist groups have spread their wings to Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan, Kashmir and China. President Musharraf’s move has in fact scuttled the Bush administration’s Pakistan policy. The cracks were first apparent two weeks ago when ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned home from eight years of exile. Washington forced Musharraf to accept her and open the way for her re-entry to the political ranks in Islamabad, even though her volatile presence was expected to stir up rather than calm the turbulence besetting the country. Her conduct after her homecoming alarmed some circles in Washington, especially in the National Security Council. They began to fear that the Bhutto experiment had misfired. DEBKAfile’s Pakistan sources report that Musharraf can keeping going because he holds a trump card: his cooperation with the US in the battle against al Qaeda and Taliban. Western attempts to twist his arm may well lead him to distance himself from this cooperation and remove a bulwark for the NATO force fighting in Afghanistan. And if they persist in their condemnation, Western governments and media may find they have driven him to eventually seek an understanding with Taliban elements - and through them with al Qaeda - to rid Pakistan’s western and northern borderlands of bloody warfare. The Pakistan president will furthermore gradually ease the military pressure on the Taliban-al Qaeda sanctuaries. Quite simply, he needs the army to prop up his regime in Islamabad rather than taking casualties in often unsuccessful bouts with Muslim extremists in Waziristan and the Swat Valley. With regard to opposition leader Bhutto, Musharraf’s strategy is predictable. He did not stop her from alighting from the plane which rushed her back from Dubai to her home in Karachi Saturday. If she goes along with his measures, he will be amenable to working out a new political accommodation with her. But if Bhutto decides to lead the opposition against him, she is likely to find herself confined to her residence and cut off from the outside world and her following at home.
Abbas: At Annapolis, Israel Will Stand Alone
Nov. 5...(JNEWSWIRE) PLO/PA chief Mahmoud Abbas said this week he is confident a whole slew of Arab countries will be in the United States for the upcoming 'Conference on the Creation of Palestine.' The US-sponsored event is scheduled to be held in Annapolis, Maryland, sometime in November. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to announce the date in the coming days. Speaking to reporters after meeting with Egyptian leaders in Cairo Tuesday, Abbas said he fully expects the most influential Arab countries to send delegates to the US. "It is certain now that those who will attend the conference are the Quartet, the permanent Security Council members, the Arab follow-up committee which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Syria, Palestine, Qatar, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen and the Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa." The terrorist-in-a-tie, who has been internationally embraced as a statesman despite never having renounced violence as a means to attaining a Palestinian state on Israel's land - had threatened to boycott the conference unless Israel agreed beforehand on all the vital issues. Saeb Erekat, Abbas' chief negotiator, said the PA's position "is very clear." "We won't go to the conference unless we reach an agreement with Israel on the final status issues and a clear timetable for the implementation of any agreement between the two parties." Erekat stressed that Abbas had succeeded in persuading Arab and other Islamic countries to endorse the "Palestinian" position and to set conditions for attending the planned conference. We [Arabs] are now "united toward the conference and have all endorsed the Arab peace plan (sic) as the basis for solving the Israeli-Arab conflict." Last week Abbas reportedly told Rice he would resign should the conference fail. If this happened, opined a reporter in The Jerusalem Post it would pave the way for another round of violence and for the emergence of al-Qaida in the PA-occupied areas.