WEEK OF DECEMBER 24 THROUGH DECEMBER 30
Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Bhutto Assasination
Dec. 28….(Fox) The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin Thursday citing an alleged claim of responsibility by al Qaeda for former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination. But such a claim has not appeared on radical Islamist Web sites that regularly post such messages from al Qaeda and other militant groups. An Al Qaeda source reportedly has asserted, "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat the mujahadeen." Apparently al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al Zawahiri set the wheels in motion for the assassination in October.
Pakistan's Perilous Path
Dec. 28….(Washington Times) The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto less than two weeks before nuclear-armed Pakistan's Jan. 8 elections threatens to open a Pandora's box of geopolitical trouble. As reported late yesterday Pakistani time, Mrs. Bhutto was shot twice, fatally, at a political rally by a gunman and suicide bomber, who subsequently detonated an explosive charge, killing at least 15 and injuring dozens more. Al Qaeda almost immediately claimed credit. Whether that claim is credible is not yet known. Al Qaeda, a related militant group, the Taliban or some combination of these are the likeliest suspects, with or without cooperation from Pakistan's shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence. We may never know. In this unstable country teeming with radical Islamists, the assassination threatens to set in motion a chain of events whose end could be any of a number of very grim scenarios. First, a public backlash is now likely. Late yesterday, reports proliferated of chaos and violence in the streets, of public buildings set to fire and of protests around the country. Chaos in the streets is nothing new in Pakistan, but the sheer scale of the reaction and the precarious state of President Pervez Musharraf's grip on power may cause matters to reach new depths. Mrs. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party had led in the polls in the run-up to the January elections and was considered the most competitive opposition coalition; her assassination deprives the opposition of the figure who rallied a plurality of regime opponents. Pakistan's other opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, now seems to be engaged in a kind of brinkmanship. He announced yesterday that his party will boycott the Jan. 8 elections. He called for the immediate resignation of Mr. Musharraf and for a nationwide strike. As the likelihood of chaos increases, enemies of the Musharraf government must be congratulating themselves. Not only are they likely to capitalize upon and fuel whatever violence occurs in the coming days; but mass disorder is their chief aim, their best resort as long as their failure to perform at the ballot box continues and as long as the hand of Mr. Musharraf stands in their way. Currently Musharraf is urging calm, declaring three days of mourning for Mrs. Bhutto, calling on the country to remain peaceful "so that the evil designs of terrorists can be defeated." The government of India, meanwhile, condemned the act while huddling to assess the implications for India and its Pakistani relations. The assassination comes at a most difficult moment for Pakistan. Democracy and normalcy were, as always, out of the question for Pakistan, but some semblance of a return to the pre-Nov. 3 status quo was not impossible. Preventing the nightmare scenario, in which Pakistan's nuclear weapons fall into the hands of radical Islamists, is the paramount concern for all. Preserving stability, however unseemly that ruling regime may be, in a nuclear-armed country is a close second. Rooting out Pakistan's radical Islamists in the North-West Frontier Province and other lawless areas is third.
FOJ Note: The US has few options in Pakistan. One thing is clear, it is not a good thing to see 70 nuclear weapons in the hands of a country that could easily fall apart. The US may have to begin to realize that Musharraf is its best bet in Pakistan, and quit playing up democracy as the antidote to terrorism.
Bolton: US Partly Responsible for Bhutto Assassination
Dec. 28….(Fox News) Former American UN ambassador John Bolton says US intervention in Pakistani politics was a factor in the assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. “In part the United States is responsible for this by pushing (Pakistani President Pervez) Musharraf to try and cut a deal with Benazir Bhutto, by encouraging her to go back in the country, by trying to act like we could have a democratic election campaign in a situation with great instability,” Bolton told the Fox News Channel this afternoon. “I think the notion that by bringing Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan we could facilitate moving to a Democratic system has obviously turned out to be incorrect.” He said he thinks “this tragedy should guide us now as to what we do next, which I think ought to be declaring a time-out on internal politics; let’s re-stabilize, it probably will require a period of martial law.” “But let’s keep our eyes on the prize. For the United States, that’s the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.” “Let’s not forget either the failed assassination attempt against (former Pakistani Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif today.” “So it’s obviously the intention of somebody, if those attempts were linked, to throw things into greater instability. That is the circumstance under which you could have a radical Islamicist regime come to power and get control of those nuclear weapons. That’s absolutely the worst-case scenario.” The former American ambassador to the United Nations says he has no confidence in the political leaders’ ability to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. “The issue is who can keep secure command and control over the nuclear weapons. I don’t think any of the civilian leaders could have done that which is why I didn’t see facilitating their return to power was in US interests.” “Right now I think you’ve got the risk that the military itself will fragment. It’s possible that elements of the military were involved in this, the radical Islamicist elements, and the last thing we need to do is have a further deterioration of the situation which I think continued politicking would almost certainly bring about.” “The idea we should be pushing Pakistan into elections next month, I think is fraught with peril for the United States,” Bolton told Fox News.
Nuclear al-Qaida Comes Closer
Dec. 27….(Newsmax) The assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto brings closer the nightmare of al-Qaida and its affiliates being armed with nuclear weapons, counter-terrorism experts tell Newsmax. “The real danger for us now in the US is that if this continues the way it’s going, the Taliban and al-Qaida could eventually have control of a nuclear arsenal,” says S. Eugene Poteat, a former CIA official. “And you know, we might not even know it. Because the way infiltration works by these people, you never know who they are. Al-Qaida or its affiliates could be in the military, they could be in control of a nuclear arsenal, and if they get it, we know one thing for sure is that it will be used one way or the other. They may not use it right away, but that’s the danger,” says Poteat, who is president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. “They’ve let it be known publicly what their plans are: their intentions are to kill us.” “The political dynamic was already unstable in Pakistan and is now even more so,” Lloyd D. Salvetti, a former CIA official who was a staff member of the 9/11 commission, says. “It raises the larger issue of Pakistan, not only in terms of governing, but in terms of its ability as an ally of the US in the war on terror and its position with nuclear arms.” But Frederick A. Stremmel, a former FBI counter-terrorism analyst, says Bhutto’s assassination could cut both ways. On the one hand, Bhutto’s supporters may weave conspiracy theories pointing to Musharraf as being behind her assassination, he says. “If one of them gets a voice on this, Musharref may have to go back to martial law and suspending the constitution,” Stremmel says. “This will make things more difficult for Musharraf, especially in the slum areas where she had her support,” Stremmel says. On the other hand, the development could also “turn against the Sunni extremists, al-Qaida or its affiliates, who probably are responsible for her death,” Stremmel says. “People could get more angry at the extremists. There is a backlash going on against extremists. This may accelerate that backlash.” Agreeing with that assessment, another well-connected terrorism expert says, “Since Bhutto’s arrival in Pakistan, I’ve felt that her days were numbered and that she didn’t much care because she viewed herself as a martyr. That’s why her arrival in Pakistan was staged so elaborately and was intended to be sabotaged by her opponents, to give her headlines.” The question, he says, is whether her supporters will “go on a wild rampage against the government or innocent bystanders, or will they seek revenge against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other Muslim extremists who wished her dead?” Brad Blakeman, a former Bush White House aide who heads the conservative Freedom’s Watch, says the assassination is a reminder of the threat of terrorism. While terrorism has been receding as an issue in the presidential campaign, the Bhutto assassination could bring it back to the forefront.
Pakistan's Bhutto Assassinated
Dec. 27….(AP) Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today in a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, a party aide and a military official said. "At 6:16 p.m. she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto's party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack. An Associated Press reporter at the scene of the bombing could see body parts and flesh scattered at the back gate of the Liaqat Bagh park where Bhutto had spoken. He counted about 20 bodies, including police, and could see many other wounded people. The road outside was stained with blood. People screamed for ambulances. Others gave water to the wounded lying in the street. The clothing of some of the victims was shredded and people put party flags over their bodies. Security had been tight, with hundreds of riot police manning security checkpoints with metal detectors around what was Bhutto's first campaign rally since returning from exile two months ago. Bhutto had planned an earlier rally in the city, but Musharraf forced her to cancel it, citing security fears. In October, suicide bombers struck a parade celebrating Bhutto’s return, killing more than 140 people in the southern city of Karachi. In recent weeks, suicide bombers have repeatedly targeted security forces in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital where Musharraf stays and the Pakistan army has its headquarters. Before the rally, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, Bhutto had met with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the end of his two-day visit here. “We too believe that it is essential for both of our countries, and indeed the larger Muslim world, to work to protect the interest of Islamic civilization by eliminating extremism and terrorism,” she said after their meeting.
As party leaders, including Bhutto, started coming out a man tried to go close to them and then he fired some shots and blew himself up," said Yaseen, a police officer, at the scene. Police said about 20 people had been killed in the blast. When news of Bhutto's death broke, her supporters at the hospital began chanting "Dog,Musharraf, dog," referring to Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf. Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest as she was entering her vehicle, and then the bomber blew himself up, FOX News confirmed. The former prime minister died in Rawalpindi General Hospital, where she had been rushed to surgery. She was 54. Her death leaves a large vacuum. President Pervez Musharraf may reinstate emergency or cancel the general election. Twice prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto leaves no apparent heir to lead her Pakistan People’s Party. Her death is a huge setback to hopes of stability in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. As an ally against al Qaeda and Muslim radicals, Washington had pressed Musharraf to allow Benazir's return from exile, pinning hopes on her strong presence in the post-election Islamabad government for a stable solution in turbulent Pakistan.
Islamic Child: 'We all Can be Sacrificed'
(Hamas kids program features discussion of martyrdom for Allah)
Dec. 27….(WND) A children's program on Hamas television whose main character earlier was "martyred" has continued the theme, with a discussion that includes a child's statement, "we can all be sacrificed for the sake of the homeland."
Al-Aqsa TV, run by the Palestinian Territories ruling party Hamas, had featured a squeaky-voiced Mickey Mouse look-alike named Farfur in the weekly children's program "Tomorrow's Pioneers." In a show episode, the character was beaten to death, with a teen hostess confirming, "Farfur was martyred while defending his land." She also said he died at the hands of the "killers of children." As a replacement, Hamas brought forward Nahoul, the bee, who now has continued the discussion of martyrdom. In a clip captured and translated by the Middle East media Research Institute Nahoul responds to a child's request to "convey your holiday greetings on the Feast of the Sacrifice?"
"Who should I convey greetings to, Saraa? Should I convey greetings to my brother, who was martyred in the first Intifada, at the hands of the Zionist Jews? Should I convey greetings to my second brother, who are martyred in the second Intifada? Should I convey greetings to my wounded brother, to my aunt, who was martyred because of the siege, or to her orphans? Who is there for me to greet, Saraa. I won't greet anyone. I am so sad, Saraa," the character said. "Don't be sad, Nahoul. We can all be sacrificed for the sake of the homeland," Saraa responds. "May Allah help you. All we can say is that we place our trust in Allah against the enemies." The discussion then continues with comments about the slaughter of a sheep and a calf. The new character earlier had been highlighted by PMW, an Israel-based monitor. PMW reported the character said he wished to "continue the path of Farfur, the path of martyrdom, the path of the jihad warriors, and in his name we shall take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the murderers of the prophets. Hamas, which won a majority in parliament in January 2006 elections, officially is considered a terrorist organization by the US government. An online forum tied to the website of Hamas posted a photo of a little girl in a combat vest and the head band of the terrorist Al-Qassam Brigades. "Have you seen the new child martyr who will soon shake Israel to the core?" says the caption.
Jews Demand Right to Pray on Temple Mount
Dec. 26….(WND) Rabbinic leaders and Temple Mount activist groups here today demanded the Israeli government allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. Israeli restrictions forbid Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and only allow Jews to ascend for certain hours on some days while the Mount is open to Muslims yearlong. Muslim prayer services take place throughout the day on the many mosques and Islamic religious schools situated on the holy site. "We demand the Government of Israel allow the Jewish people to have freedom of religious expression on the Temple Mount. This will serve as a preliminary step in confirming the Jewish people's inexorable connection with the Temple Mount, location of the Holy Temple, under the sovereignty of the people of Israel," states a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signed by the leaders of the New Jewish Congress, the Sanhedrin and the Holy Temple and Temple Mount movements. The Congress is a group of religious Zionist leaders here while the Sanhedrin consists of prominent rabbinic leaders who in 2004 reformed the ancient group of Jewish judges that previously constituted the legislative body of Israel. The reformed Sanhedrin has been a subject of debate within some Jewish communities. The rabbinic leaders and activists demanded the Israeli government move toward allowing non-Muslim worship by initially establishing special days for Jewish communal prayer in fixed locations on the Temple Mount. They demanded Olmert allow prayer on the Mount on important Jewish holidays, including Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, the first day of Hanukkah and on the Israeli national holidays of Jerusalem Day and Israeli Independence Day. Not all rabbinic figures allow Jewish prayer on the Mount although many schools do as long as entry and prayer is restricted to outer areas of the Mount, which can be measured by a change in the kind of foundation stone. According to Jewish law, the sanctity of the Temple Mount is structured in concentric circles. In the innermost circles, where the Holy of Holies was said to be located, the restrictions of Jewish access are the greatest. Jewish tradition and literature relates that during Temple times, only the kohen gadal, or high priest, was allowed to enter the most restricted area, and this happened once a year on Yom Kippur. The outer layers are less restricted. The rabbis' and activists' letter to Olmert was prompted by an episode last week, in which Israeli forces closed the Mount to Jews during an important Jewish fast day mourning the First Temple's destruction while the Hamas terror organization broadcast from the Mount's Al Aqsa Mosque. We demand that the Government of Israel allow the Jewish people to have freedom of religious expression on the Temple Mount," stated the rabbis' letter to Olmert. While Israel again has not yet acted to halt Hamas broadcasts, for most of last week it barred all non-Muslims from ascending the Mount, even on a Jewish holiday held last Wednesday. The letter to Olmert called the Temple Mount "the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people, yet Jews are denied the right to pray in groups, and even as individuals, they are granted no opportunity for any religious expression whatsoever on the Temple Mount." "However, let it be known that the Jewish people will never accept the total refusal of Jewish communal prayer on the Mountain," the letter states.
Moscow Adds More Systems (S-300) to defend Iran’s Nuclear Facilities Against Israel Attack
Dec, 26….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s military and Iranian sources report that, while Russian-Iranian military ties are burgeoning rapidly, no complaint is heard from Jerusalem. Iranian defense minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar announced Wednesday, Dec. 26 that he and a visiting Russian delegation had just signed a contract for the supply of another Russian anti-air weapon, the highly sophisticated S-300, rated the most effective killer of ballistic missiles on the market. The news came a day after Russian air defense officers and technicians arrived in Tehran to install TOR-M1 missile batteries at Iran’s nuclear facilities; and two weeks after the delivery of Russian uranium fuel rods for Iran’s atomic reactor at Bushehr. Military sources say that Moscow has designed the multi-layer air defense system to make Iran proof against Israel’s Air Force and the ballistic missiles in its armory. Yet not a murmur has been heard from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or strategic threats minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is fond of boasting about his friendly ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin. While TOR-M1 can locate and destroy moving targets at low altitudes, the S-300 system uniquely zaps high-flying, medium-range ballistic missiles of the type which is the backbone of Israel’s surface missile units at a distance of 1-40 km. Together, they lend Iran air superiority over any missiles and aircraft. Another of S-300’s significant features is its advanced guidance method which relies on a single phased array radar to trace missiles in the air. This reduces its deployment time to five minutes; secondly, the missiles are sealed rounds and require no maintenance over their lifetime. Our military sources add that Syria will soon to receive the S-300, as Damascus and Tehran progress toward a unified military command. They will provide coverage against attack for the territory between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.
Russia Seeking Role in Israeli-Syrian Talks
President Bashar Assad.
Ezekiel 38:3 “After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.”
Dec. 26….(In The Days) Russia wants to “facilitate” talks between Israel and Syria and in the last few months has conveyed messages from Damascus to Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post has learned. According to senior diplomatic officials in Jerusalem, Moscow sees involvement in this track as a facilitator as one way of increasing its influence in the region. Turkey has also played this role in recent months. But while the Turks are believed to have better personal contacts with the Syrians, the Russians, because of their arms sales to Syria and their overall status as a world power, are believed to have much more leverage with Damascus. Israeli diplomatic officials said, for example, that Moscow was largely responsible for convincing Syria to attend last month’s conference in Annapolis. According to assessments in Jerusalem, the Russians are concerned about the Iran-Syrian-Hamas-Hizbullah axis that has created a common cause between Shi’ite and Sunni extremists and that could potentially create a serious problem in southern Russia. As a result, Moscow has concluded that one way to deal with the situation is to lure Syria out of the Iranian orbit, something it feels could be possible were an agreement reached between Syria and Israel. This explains a stepped-up Russian interest in facilitating dialogue between Jerusalem and Damascus. At the same time, Russia has stepped back from reported plans to convene an international peace conference in Moscow that would not only deal with the Palestinian-Israeli issue, but also with the Syrian-Israeli track. Although Israel has not officially been informed by the Russians about what Moscow has in mind, the current assessment is that the Kremlin wants to convene a conference of “technical experts,” meaning high-level Foreign Ministry officials or their equivalent, to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian track. The general idea would be to invite Israel, the Palestinians and members of the Quartet, the US, EU, Russia and the UN, and possibly representatives from the Arab league. The Russians are waiting to gauge the likely response to such a meeting before formally proposing anything, and Israel, according to diplomatic officials, was waiting to see what the proposal consisted of, and what the US and European positions were, before accepting or rejecting. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said recently that the meeting still needed to be coordinated and would depend on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian talks. The Russians, according to Israeli officials, see the conference as another way to increase their involvement in the region
US Report: Israel Could Weather Nuclear War with Iran
(Study compiled by US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), headed by a former Pentagon analyst, explores several hypothetical scenarios for unconventional warfare in region. Authors find ‘Israel’s residents and economy could weather nuclear war with Iran)
Dec. 24….(YNET) All out nuclear war between Israel and Iran: a doomsday scenario that we all fear deeply. A new study compiled by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), headed by former Pentagon analyst Anthony H. Cordesman, explored just such a nightmare scenario, noting that it could lead to the death of between 16-28 million Iranian civilians, and 200-800 thousand Israelis. This hypothetical, research-oriented study also explored other contingencies for unconventional warfare in our region, noting the tactics that various countries could potentially employ in such instances. As pertains to nuclear warfare, the study found that an Israeli nuclear scrimmage with Iran would most likely last for about three weeks. Aside from the aforementioned direct casualties, the study could not determine how many additional long-term casualties would arise from fallout and radiation in the weeks and months following such an attack. One essential requirement for nuclear confrontation in our region, according to the study, is allowing Iran’s nuclear program to develop, unhindered by a pre-emptive strike by either Israel or the United States. If US or Israeli preemption does not occur, the study found, Iran could very well have 30 nuclear warheads available for warfare between 2010-2020. Israel, by comparison, currently has 200 nuclear war heads with both air and sea launch capabilities, according to the study.
Given certain conditions, Israel could potentially survive such a nuclear scenario, the study found. Iran, on the other hand, would be completely and utterly obliterated. “Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of term, though Israeli recovery is theoretically possible in population and economic terms,” wrote Cordesman, who compiled this study entitled “Iran, Israel, and Nuclear War”. The bottom line, according to this study, is that Israel quite simply has more potent and effective bombs. Israel currently has a 1megaton nuclear bomb, whereas Iran does not yet have the ability to develop a bomb with more than 100 kilotons of power. What this means, in essence, is that the Israeli bomb can lead to three times as many casualties as its Iranian counterpart and has an “area of extreme lethality” (the range within which a nuclear bomb is fatal) ten-times as great. Which Israeli cities are most likely to be targeted by Iran? Tel-Aviv and central Israel, down to Ashdod, are the most likely targets, as is Haifa. Israel, conversely, has more than 10 Iranian cities on its “hit list” including Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan, Qazvin, Shiraz, Yazd, Kerman, Qom, Ahvaz, and Kermanshah. Cordseman also noted that Iran would have lower fission yields, and less accurate force into cluster targeting on Israel’s two largest urban complexes, and that the Iranian side would also most likely be thwarted by Israel’s missile defense systems. Notable among these is the “Arrow 2” anti-ballistic missile which could most potentially shoot down most nuclear missiles launched by Iran. Furthermore, Israel could strike Iran with far grater accuracy and precision, hitting its cities with deadly aim utilizing both its own satellites, as well as those of the United States. The study also examined what would occur if Syria would join the Israeli-Iranian nuclear fray. Syria, Cordesman estimated, could kill an additional 800 thousand Israelis with missiles armed with chemical or biological warheads. The Syrian side, however, could suffer up to 18 million casualties should Israel respond with a nuclear strike. If Egypt should join its Arab neighbors in battle, the study finds, Israel would most likely respond with a nuclear strike at Cairo and other major cities, as well as by destroying the Aswan dam.
Jesus Was God’s Promised Gift for Mankind
Dec. 22….(FOJ) Most people during Christmas season will hear the reading the account of Jesus’ birth. These wonderful old words are a comforting reminder that Christ came to earth to die for our sins. Some people of Jesus’ time expected the Messiah to be a man of power and standing, who would free the Jewish nation from Roman rule. But the Savior of the world, whose life, death, and resurrection would have eternal impact, was born into lowly circumstances. Neither Joseph nor Mary had position or power, and even Jesus’ birth city of Bethlehem was politically unimportant. Those who were keeping vigil for a Messiah with worldly status no doubt missed the Savior when He came. During Christmas this year, I hope that you will discover that God loves you, and sent his only begotten son into this world to demonstrate his loving kindness toward you, that if you simply believed in his act of love, then you can have eternal life. And this promise also exists from the Lord God. This same Jesus that was born in Bethlehem to save the world will return someday to establish his kingdom of peace on this earth! Merry Christmas to all from Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry
You Can't Take Christ out of Christmas
Dec. 21….(Roland Martin) The push to remove Christ from the Christmas season has gotten so ridiculous that it's pathetic. Because of all the politically correct idiots, we are being encouraged to stop saying "Merry Christmas" for the more palatable "Happy Holidays." What the heck are "Seasons Greetings"? Can someone tell me what season we are greeting folks about? A Christmas tree? Oh, no! It's now a holiday tree. Any Christmas song that even remotely mentions Christ or has a religious undertone is being axed for being overtly religious. And I'm sorry, forget X-M-A-S. Malcolm X? Yes. X replacing Christ? No. Don't get me wrong; I'm very respectful of other religions. I don't want anyone to be afraid of discussing the Jewish faith when we address Hanukkah. And we shouldn't dismiss Muslims when the annual pilgrimage to Mecca is held during December. In fact, Americans are so ignorant of other faiths that we can all learn from one another. But this seeming backlash against Christianity is bordering on the absurd, and we should continue to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. I know that may sound strident, but it's true. We spend an inordinate amount of time focused on shopping and buying gifts, but really, what does any of this have to do with the birth of Jesus? We have families all over the nation killing themselves to buy a tree they can't afford, running up their credit to buy toys and other gifts, all in an effort to make someone else happy. What if families decided to forgo gifts, and instead, used their shopping days giving back to those in need? What if more of us went into our closets, grabbed old toys and clothes, repackaged them, and provided them as gifts to those without? Instead of gorging on food, what if we used some of the dough to feed those who are in need? Its time that we return to traditional values, and end this ridiculous charade. It's important that we take a fuller account of WHY we celebrate Christmas, as opposed to falling for the barrage of ads that tell us what is most important. Parents, don't be so consumed with the notion that your children will have a terrible Christmas because the tree isn't overflowing with gifts. The true love that you show them is more important than anything else. America might be the king of capitalism, but secularism must never become so prevalent that our religious traditions are discarded.
FOJ Note: Jesus was God’s gift to the world. Without the gift of Christ, the love of God for us could not be known.
Former US Intelligence Official: Israel will Attack Iran
(Bruce Riedel, a former career CIA official and senior adviser to three US presidents, including Bush, tells Newsweek he came back from trip to Israel in November convinced that Jewish state would attack Iran. 'Israel is not going to allow its nuclear monopoly to be threatened,')
Dec. 21….(YNET) "I came back from a trip to Israel in November convinced that Israel would attack Iran," Bruce Riedel, a former career CIA official and senior adviser to three US presidents, including George W. Bush, on Middle East and South Asian issues, told Newsweek Thursday, citing conversations he had with Mossad and Israeli defense officials. "And that was before the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). This makes it even more likely. Israel is not going to allow its nuclear monopoly to be threatened," the American magazine quoted Riedel as saying in an article titled, "What will Israel do?". Published in early December, the American NIE determined that Iran had shelved its nuclear weapons program in 2003. According to Newsweek, "a rising tide of opinion in Israel's intelligence and national-security circles believes that the NIE does signal American retreat-and, more profoundly, renewed Israeli isolation over what is deemed an existential threat out of Tehran." The magazine quoted Knesset Member Ephraim Sneh, a former deputy defense minister who has "warned for years that Israel would eventually have to confront Iran alone," as saying that "today we are closer to this situation than we were three weeks ago, we have to be prepared to forestall this threat on our own." Newsweek said Israel also knows that the Arab states are "terrified of an Iranian nuclear power. The magazine said one reason for Bush's abruptly announced nine-day visit to the Middle East in mid-January was "to deal with the fallout from the NIE, which includes not only the possibility that Israel will act unilaterally but also that Bush's prized Annapolis peace process will stall. The Bush trip is, in part, an implicit concession to US hawks that the NIE went too far in absolving Iran. It is also a conscious effort to reassure both Israel and the Arab states that Washington will stand up to Iran's increasing intrusiveness and hegemonic tendencies," Newsweek said in its report.
Muslims “Stone the Devil” During Hajj
Bush: Patience with Syria's Assad Exhausted
Dec 20….(Reuters) US President George W. Bush on Thursday warned Damascus against interfering in Lebanon's political crisis, saying his patience with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had run out long ago. "Syria needs to stay out of Lebanon," Bush told a news conference when asked whether he would be willing to talk to Assad about stabilizing Lebanon, where political tensions have risen to the highest level since the 1975-1990 civil war. The Bush administration has long tried to isolate Damascus diplomatically, though Syria sent representatives to a US-hosted Israeli-Palestinian peace conference last month in Annapolis, Maryland. "My patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago," Bush said. "The reason is because he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hezbollah, suiciders go from his country into Iraq and he destabilizes Lebanon," Bush said. President Bush was speaking less than three weeks before he visits Israel and the West Bank as part of a Middle East tour to shore up a fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace effort despite doubts about chances of a deal before he leaves office in 13 months. Syria and Lebanon are not among the stops on Bush's Jan. 8-16 trip. A series of assassinations, mostly of anti-Syrian politicians, has added to tensions. Bush did not point the finger at Syria for any of the killings, as some US officials have done, but he had strong words for Assad. "If he's listening, he doesn't need a phone call. He knows exactly what my position is," Bush said. Assad said this week that achieving Middle East peace in 2008 looked unrealistic because the United States would be preoccupied with its November presidential election. The Annapolis meeting, attended by Syria and 43 other countries, relaunched formal peace talks with Israel and the Palestinians pledging to try to forge a peace deal by the end of next year. A key aim would be creating a Palestinian state. Syria said the Annapolis meeting revived its bid to recover the occupied Golan Heights from Israel although there were no direct talks between the two adversaries. Bush spoke hopefully about his coming trip, which will include his first presidential visit to Israel plus stops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. "One objective is to advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace process," he said.
Israel’s Road Map Duties not Moral Equivalent to Palestinian Terror
Dec. 20….(Jerusalem Post) With the world increasingly putting Israel's obligation under the Quartet’s road map process to stop settlement activity on a even par with the Palestinian obligation to uproot the terrorist infrastructure, Israeli officials have begun taking the offensive, with one official saying that the two obligations are not "morally equivalent." Construction on Har Homa, the official said, doesn't kill anyone. Building in the Jerusalem neighborhood, which was approved in 1997 and planned as a community of 6,500 units, will continue, he said. The official indicated that neither the fate of Har Homa, nor any of the other settlements, would be determined by the construction of another 300 units. "If Har Homa will not be part of Israel, it doesn't matter if Har Homa is 5,000 units or 6,000 units, Har Homa will be dismantled," the official said. It was clarified afterward that the official was not putting Har Homa on the negotiating table, but rather speaking in theoretical terms; that if the government decides to dismantle a settlement, it will do so, and an addition of a few hundred units would not tip the balance. The housing does not begin to compare to the death and destruction caused by Palestinian terrorism. Houses and walls can come down, but lives cannot be resurrected.
Hamas Leaders from Gaza, on Hajj Meet Iranian Bosses in Mecca and Plan Escalation of Terror war
Dec. 20….(DEBKA) As Palestinian missiles and mortar bombs continued to fly against Israeli border communities, DEBKAfile reports that on Wednesday, Dec. 19, under cover of the annual Muslim pilgrimage, Hamas leaders got together in Mecca with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the al Qods Brigades officers in his retinue to discuss the next escalation of warfare against Israel. Our sources report that, while Israel helped several hundred Gazan pilgrims attend the pilgrimage by bussing them to the West Bank crossing to Jordan, whence they flew to Saudi Arabia, Egypt did not bother to consult Israel before allowing top Hamas leaders in Gaza cross Sinai to Cairo airport. Among them was Khalil al Haya, whom DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources rate the top Hamas decision-maker on war tactics in Gaza. The conference was joined by Hamas’ Musa Abu Marzuk from Damascus, once arrested at Kennedy Airport for murder. IDF officers leading the counter-terror offensive in Gaza ask why Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak did not intercede with Cairo to prevent Hamas terrorist chiefs leaving for the hajj, or activate the military to obstruct their departure. They find it hard to reconcile their own counter-terror strikes against Hamas and Jihad Islami with the government’s blind eye to the two groups’ external support-and-aid system, including Egypt. DEBKAfile further reports that intermingled with the hundreds of pilgrims Israel allowed to leave Gaza for Mecca was a large group from Hamas’ Ezz a din al Qassam Brigades, who took the opportunity to reach Iran from Mecca for special 6-week missile and sabotage courses conducted on their behalf by Tehran. The al Qods Brigades officers with whom Hamas conferred in Mecca are in charge of Iranian covert military operations in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Israeli defense and military officials strongly suspect that new shipments of Iranian missiles and other weapons are already on their way to Gaza. Our sources also report that on Wednesday, too, the Hamas delegation used the pilgrimage for a meeting with Sheikh Abdulmajeed Zindani, al Qaeda’s commander in Yemen, who is on America’s listed of wanted terrorists.
Top Catholic in Jerusalem Rejects Israel's Identity as a Jewish State
Dec. 20….(Israel Insider) Israel's identity as a Jewish state is unfair, discriminating against non-Jews, its top Roman Catholic clergyman said in a pre-Christmas address on Wednesday in Jerusalem. ''If there's a state of one religion, other religions are naturally discriminated against,'' Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah told reporters at the annual press conference he traditionally holds in Jerusalem before Christmas. Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since 1987, is the first Palestinian to hold the position and has been harshly critical of Israel. In his address, delivered in Arabic and English, Sabbah said Israel must abandon its Jewish character and allow itself to become a ''political, normal state for Christians, Muslims and Jews.'' He denounced Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinians and said "God made this land for all three of us, so a suitable state is one who can adapt itself to the vocation of this land." ''This land cannot be exclusive for anyone,'' he said. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said, had unleashed "forces of evil" across the Mideast. It was all Israel's fault that there was continual war, he said, and it was Israel’s responsibility to end it. "The one who will decide is Israel. If Israel decides for peace, there will be peace? Until now, there has been no peace, simply because Israel has had no willingness to make it."
God Permits Temptation From Satan, But Provides An Escape
"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned From Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil" (Luke 4:1-2).
Dec. 19….(FOJ) Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost, and yet He was tempted. Temptation often comes upon a man with its strongest power when he is nearest to God. As someone has said, "The devil aims high." He got one apostle to say he did not even know Christ. If a man has very much of the Spirit of God, he will have great conflicts with the tempter. God permits temptation because it does for us what the storms do for the oaks, it roots us; and what the fire does for the paintings on the porcelain, it makes them permanent. You never know that you have a grip on Christ, or that He has a grip on you, as well as when the devil is using all his force to attract you away from Him; then you feel the pull of Christ's right hand. Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes they are the trial of extraordinary graces. Charles Spurgeon once remarked about his life, “I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod.” Be it noted however that God is not the architect of temptation, rather Satan is the designer of temptation. Albeit, God permits temptations to confront us from time to time so that we may be discover his mercies. (James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.) (I Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.) Jesus instructed us to pray “to avoid allowing oneself to be led into temptation, but also remembering that even in temptation, we should pray to be delivered from the evil that can be wrought through the schemes of the Tempter.
Muslims Celebrate A Distorted Version of Abraham’s Sacrifice
Dec. 19….(FOJ) Abraham is considered the Father of both Jews and Arabs. Muslims claim a descendency from the patriarch Abraham through Hagar. Muslims also claim that Abraham offered Ishmael on the altar. This is one of the fundamental differences between the Bible and the Koran, and thus another reason that Allah and Jehovah cannot be the same God, if it is in truth a fact that God cannot lie. (Genesis 22:1-2 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.)
Syria, Iran, Muslims Behind Jihad in Iraq
Dec. 19….(Bill Wilson/Montana News) Syria and Iran supply intelligence, weapons, financing, operational training and terrorist fighters to the al Qaeda Jihad movement in Iraq, Shehada Jawhar, a Palestinian arms dealer and former al Qaeda terrorist trainer told Al Arabiya TV. Jawhar said he was called to Jihad against the United States and Israel from his youth in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon where he was a member of the Fatah youth. Fatah is the same organization the United States is trusting to bring about a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace. Jawhar boldly revealed from that his authority for Jihad against Israel and the United States is founded in Islam and the Koran. Jawhar told the Al Arabiya TV interviewer that al Qaeda did not invent the ideology that motivates Jihad. They got their ideology from the Koran. He said Islamic terrorists are supposed to kill infidels: "Whoever fights against Christians and Jews, 'there is no god but Allah.' (FOJ Note: In other words ladies and gentlemen, the God of the Bible is a false god to Muslims) Jawhar, who gave the interview in Lebanon, said that Iran and Syria were key to the al Qaeda organization against the United States in Iraq. He said, "It is not in the Syrians' interest for Iraq to remain calm even for a moment. They benefit from this. The more Iraq is destroyed, the more pleased they are. I don't know if you noticed, but the Shi'ites started fighting the Americans only two years ago. It's not the Shi'ites, the Iranians asked them to fight, and sent them weapons, explosive devices, and so on, because if the Americans feel comfortable in Iraq, they will move on to the other areas." The terrorist admitted that Syrian operatives systematically smuggle terrorists into Iraq to fight America.
Jerusalem's Catholic Patriarch Says Holy Land is not Only Jewish
Dec. 19….(Ha Aretz) Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch criticized Israel on Wednesday for insisting Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state and said God made the Holy Land for Muslims and Christians too. Michel Sabbah, Jerusalem's Roman Catholic leader, said in his annual Christmas message that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had unleashed "forces of evil" across the Middle East and it was up to Israel to relaunch the peace process. "I hope we are entering into a new phase with Annapolis," Sabbah told a news conference in Jerusalem's Old City. "The one who will decide is Israel. If Israel decides for peace, there will be peace." Sabbah said he was concerned about Israeli demands, rebuffed by the Palestinians, that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state because that would discriminate against Muslims and Christians. "God made this land for all three of us, so a suitable state is one who can adapt itself to the vocation of this land," said Sabbah, who was born in Nazareth, a town where Christians believe Jesus was raised and which is now part of Israel. "If it's Jewish, it's not Muslim or Christian." The Holy Land, particularly the Old City of Jerusalem, is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Palestinians say defining Israel as Jewish is unfair for the millions of Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, who live there. Israel, which is majority Jewish, argues other countries call themselves Islamic republics. Sabbah expressed hope for peace in the Holy Land and urged Palestinians and Israel to shun violence, whether "carried out by the state or by extremists". He said Israel, as "the strong party", bore most of the responsibility for forging a peace deal.
Israel, Russia on Collision Course after Moscow Fuels Iranian Nuclear Plant?
Dec. 19….(JNEWSWIRE) When, in an effort to stop Iran from reaching the status of nuclear military power, Israel attacks the sites housing that country's nuclear program, it could find itself on a collision course with Russia. This possibility emerged Monday amid reports that Russia had delivered what an unnamed Iranian official called a "first batch" of 82 tons of nuclear fuel to the Iranian plant at Bushehr. According to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Russia announced its intention to supply the fuel just days after the publication of a US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which concluded that Iran had stopped trying to build a nuclear bomb four years ago. Hailed as a victory by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the NIE report led to an immediate evaporation of the international pressure on Iran to end its quest for nuclear arms, leaving Israel standing alone against the threat. In a statement that might return to haunt him, US President George W. Bush said he supported Russia's supplying of the nuclear fuel because it removed any reason the Iranians might have for continuing to enrich its own uranium. But Israeli officials are deeply concerned. Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Liberman told the Knesset Monday afternoon that Iran needed only a few months to make the transition "from a civilian nuclear energy track to a military one." A day earlier, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter had warned that the NIE report could pave the way for "another Yom Kippiur War." And Ynet quoted an unnamed senior political-defense source as saying that "Iran will do anything to continue (developing nuclear technology) while attempting to confound the Western World." Russian President Vladimir Putin has strategically aligned his country with Iran, resisting US requests to join an international embargo against the Islamic Republic and instead entering into a historic covenantal relationship with it. This deepening relationship will only complicate any plans Israel has to strike Iran's facilities. When Israel took out the French-sponsored Iraqi nuclear reactor called Osirak in 1981, it triggered a crisis with President Francois Mitterrand, who immediately vowed to rebuild the plant. Although he never kept his word, France did supply Iraq with five highly sophisticated fighter bombers armed with Exocet missiles. Before Osirak, Israel's relations with France were seldom more than cordial. By contrast, its often tense relations with Soviet Russia have brought the Middle East to the brink of nuclear war on at least one occasion. While the USSR is no more, analysts believe Putin seeks to re-establish the level of influence in the Middle East once enjoyed by the Soviet Empire.
Palestinians Win the World at Paris Donors Conference
Dec. 18….(Israel Today) The Palestinian Authority walked away from Monday's donors conference in Paris with a full wallet, after 70 participating nations pledged $7.4 billion over three years toward advancing the Palestinian cause. Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad called the outcome a vote of confidence in the Palestinian Authority, despite the fact that the past decade saw Palestinian leaders siphon off much of $9 billion in foreign aid. Fayyad announced that with the help of international peace envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the funds will be used to rebuild a Palestinian economy crippled by corruption and years of violence directed at Israel. The conference was also used as a platform to again condemn Israel for building new apartments on the eastern side of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of their hoped-for future state. World powers unabashedly took the Palestinian side, insisting that the construction of Jewish homes in Jerusalem is an affront that is undermining peacemaking efforts. Every single national representative at the Paris “donors conference for a two-state solution” condemned Israel’s settlement building and labeled them as an affront to peace efforts.
FOJ Note: Can you imagine the world coming together to honor God’s chosen people, and pledging billions of dollars to support them against terrorism, and to back their Biblical claim to the Promised Land? The world has once again cast its lot with the perpetual haters of Israel, and against the Holy Bible.
World Powers Will Bankroll Palestinian State
(Palestinian Authority boosted as international Conference of Donors pledges several billion dollars in aid funds)
Dec. 17….(YNET) The Palestinian Authority will soon be receiving $800 million in European and Japanese aid funds and another $550 million from the United States, the Conference of Donors announced Monday. Delegations from the world's powers met in Paris to agree on an aid package worth billions of dollars to stabilize the Palestinian economy and give political impetus to the newly re-launched peace process with Israel. The one-day Paris conference was attended by 90 international delegations, making it the biggest of its kind since 1996. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hopes to win pledges for $5.6 billion, the sum he says is needed to underwrite a Palestinian state and stave off severe hardship in the territories. The amount the Palestinians needed for 2008 was "around $1.6 to $1.7 billion," said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, adding the US will shoulder one third of the financial burden, while the German government, meanwhile, promised $200 million by 2010. "This is an historically large figure. I think this is the largest assistance package that we have ever done for the Palestinians," a senior US official said. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni headed the Israeli delegation to the Conference of Donors. Israel was not named an official member of the conference, but it presence, Ynet was told, helps legitimize the process. "The creation of a Palestinian state and the modernization of the Palestinian economy are in the interests of Israel, just as stopping terrorism is in the interests of the Palestinians," she said. French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened the conference, with Abbas at his side: "It is urgent to stabilize the Palestinian economy and implement measures on the ground that will improve the daily lives of Palestinians," said Sarkozy. Some 70% of the pledged funds will go to stabilizing the Palestinian budget, and the rest on development projects. Conference members are further expected to urge Israel, which operates 550 checkpoints in the West Bank, to gradually lift restrictions on movement between Palestinian towns and villages, while asking the Palestinians for a big push to improve security conditions.
Big Morning for Fatah.: Over $2 Billion Already Pledged
Dec. 17….(IsraelNN.com) Though PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has taken no steps to stop terrorism against Israel, he is being greeted at an international conference in Paris with admiration, and money. The purpose of the one-day conference is to raise up to $5.6 billion dollars to help the Palestinian Authority partially realize its dream of becoming a full-fledged state in the Land of Israel. Though its long-term goal is to replace Israel altogether, as indicated by some of its textbooks and public television shows, at present it is working on forming a state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria alone. Before the conference even began, the United States had pledged $555 million, the European Union $650 million, and Germany and Great Britain together, $780 million. Japan then stepped in with another $150 million. Delegates from 70 countries and 20 global organizations are present at the Paris conference. French President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed Abbas to the Elysée Palace ahead of the meeting, while US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice met with Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the home of the American ambassador to France. PA leaders have expressed the hope and confidence that the summit will deal not only with money, but also with politics. In fact, many of the speakers are expected to pressure Israel to remove checkpoints from Palestinian Authority roads. The checkpoints are in place in order to prevent terrorists from freely traveling and disseminating weapons for the purpose of attacking Jews. Foreign Minister Livni, apparently a lone voice at the conference, emphasized the Palestinian Authority's obligation to fight terrorism, though not in an ultimative manner. She explained why Israel agreed, at Annapolis, to forego its just demand for an end to terrorism before embarking on final-status talks: "The Road Map states that a reform in the PA leadership and an end to terrorism are pre-conditions for political negotiations. This is still valid. However, we and our Palestinian partners agreed that the two nations deserve a more solid vision, and that true peace can be attained only if we create the basic conditions for it to strike roots. We therefore decided to begin final-status talks already now, parallel to the practical implementation of the Road Map." Livni also said that Israel would not let continued terrorism stop the talks: "It is enticing to get into mutual recriminations or to find reasons to stop the talks, but we must rise above all this. The situation in which Hamas has taken over Gaza and brings terrorism to Israeli homes every day along with hardships for the Palestinian population, while Gilad Shalit is still a captive, is very disturbing for us. The wantonness, the incitement, the arms-smuggling and the terrorism have not ceased. All this can be a great excuse for doing nothing, but our decision not to give in to them must be even stronger." "Israel is committed to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state," Livni said, while also announcing that an agreement will be signed in the coming days that will enable the European Union to train PA police forces. Israel does not expect the Arab states to follow through on their total pledges to the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, in order not to antagonize Hamas. In the past, the gap between the pledges to the PA by Arab and other nations, and actual monies given, has been very large.
Russia Delivers first Nuclear Fuel to Iran
(First shipment of Russian nuclear fuel arrives at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station. Russian FM says country has received written assurances that fuel would not be used for enrichment program)
Dec. 17….(YNET) Russia has delivered the first shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power station, the Russian state agency building the station said in a statement on Monday. Russia's Foreign Ministry said separately it had received additional written assurances from Iran that the fuel would not be used for any other purpose and urged Tehran to drop its own enrichment program. "The first stage (of delivering fuel) was completed on December 16, 2007: Containers with fuel which had previously been sealed by IAEA inspectors were delivered to the site and placed in special storage," Plant constructor Atomstroiexport said. Bushehr, which is nearing completion, will be Iran's first nuclear power station. The delivery of fuel is likely to have far-reaching diplomatic repercussions because the United States and other countries, which suspect Iran of harboring ambitions to acquire a nuclear weapon, have urged Moscow not to dispatch the fuel. Russia says Bushehr is being built in line with guidelines set by the United Nation's nuclear watchdog and there is no risk of Iran acquiring military technology. Russian officials have previously said the Bushehr power station could start operating within six months of the fuel being delivered. "The Iranian side has supplied additional written assurances regarding the fact that the fuel will be used exclusively for the atomic power station at Bushehr," The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. "We believe that qualitatively new conditions have been created which will allow Iran to take the steps which are demanded of it, for the restoration of trust in the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program."
Putin Aims to Trump Bush’s Middle East Moves
Dec. 17….(DEBKA) The foreign ministry in Moscow announced Monday, Dec. 17, the delivery of the first fuel shipment to power the Iranian nuclear reactor Russia is building at Bushehr. The announcement coincided with an international conference in Paris for 60 countries to consider the Palestinians’ application for $5.6 billion in aid. DEBKAfile’s Moscow sources report this was a deliberate ploy to steal the thunder of an event built up as the sequel of the US-promoted Middle East conference in Annapolis last month. Our Moscow sources report President Vladimir Putin has adopted the strategy of matching, or topping every US or Western move concerning the Middle East. He also plans, they reveal, to land in Syria in grand style on New Year’s Eve, a week before US president George W. Bush begins his Middle East tour. Putin will be flown by Russian helicopter to inspect the Russian flotilla of six warships headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, which is due by then to dock in Syria’s friendly Mediterranean Tartous port. Putin, who plans to be filmed worldwide with Russian sailors on the deck of the aircraft carrier, backed by 47 Russian warplanes and 10 helicopters, will be challenging the US Sixth Fleet, the Israeli Navy and UNIFIL’s marine arm for control of the eastern Mediterranean. He will also be marking the end of his eight-year presidency in March with a flourish. Putin will take the opportunity to pay visits to select Middle East rulers. The Russian president is reported to be interested in another official visit to Israel, his second, to outdo Bush who is due in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Jan. 9-10 for his first trip to Israel as US president. Moscow is determined to host the next Israel-Palestinian peace conference next March or April, by which time Putin may have changed hats from president to super prime minister. That session is planned to embrace also Syria’s claim to the Golan held by Israel since 1967, as well as two enclaves, the Shebaa Farms and half of divided Ghajar village, to which Lebanon now lays belated claim. Putin personally interceded with Syrian president Bashar Assad for a delegate to the Annapolis conference and expects to be paid in kind. The rivalry between Bush’s Washington and Putin’s Moscow for influence in the Middle East is clearly more intense and sharp-edged than generally appreciated. He has made it clear that his government means to be co-opted to US-led moves in the Middle East, or else Moscow will put spokes in Washington’s wheels. DEBKAfile’s military sources were first out On Dec. 5 with the exclusive disclosure of Moscow’s counter-action to Washington’s decision to whitewash Iran’s nuclear program from 2003, by authorizing completion of the Bushehr reactor and deploying a war fleet in the Mediterranean.
Faulty US Intelligence May Spark Regional "Yom Kippur"
Dec. 17….(Israel Insider) Internal security minister and former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter spoke out against the US intelligence report which claimed with "moderate confidence" that Iran is no longer racing to develop nuclear weapons. A senior minister from PM Ehud Olmert's own Kadima party, Dichter indicated that the evident acceptance by the US of a nuclear-armed Iran could spark a "regional Yom Kippur," a reference to the 1973 War in which Israel was surprised on two fronts and nearly defeated. He chose the term "misconception" to drive home a sense of danger, a term used by the official Agranot commission of inquiry in 1974 to describe the complacent attitude of Israel's leaders and military commanders prior to the Yom Kippur war. He said that "we know the threat to be ongoing and palpable" for Israel and a whole region within the range of Iran's ballistic missiles, including Europe and North Africa. Israel and other threatened nations must help the US in every way possible, including by their intelligence, to correct its misconception. "The American misconception concerning Iran's nuclear weapons may lead to a regional Yom Kippur, in which Israel will be among the countries that are threatened," said Dichter, speaking at a "Cultural Shabbat" talk in Bat Yam. Dichter blamed the Israeli government for failing to provide the United States with insufficient information. "The softened intelligence report proves that Israel failed to provide the Americans with the whole picture concerning the Iranian nuclear threat," he said. "Something went wrong in the American blueprint for analyzing the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat," he said, in one of the sharpest critiques of the US intelligence analysis yet offered by an Israeli cabinet member. When asked about Israel's ability to strike Iran on its own, Dichter voiced doubt about the Jewish state's ability to go it alone. Despite Israel's status as the world's fourth largest defense exporter, he said, it is not a superpower. "It is a state, and it can only be a superpower for a few hours. The fight against Iran has to be led by a superpower." That, evidently, is not going to happen during the Bush Administration. Olmert appears to accept the new US approach, and has weakly responded to the intelligence report by repeating that Iran was still a threat and that Israel was still convinced that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's had nuclear aspirations. The reality, of course, is that Dichter realizes that the NIE report was clearly not a bureaucratic miscalculation but rather the paper cover for a strategic re-alignment by the United States, in which the Bush Administration plans to open negotiations, brokered by Saudi Arabia, with Iran as well as Syria, and to reach accommodations with Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel will be expected to pay the price in territory both in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the disputed Har Dov in northern Israel, and on the Golan Heights. Olmert, it appears, is willing to give in on all fronts, a fact which seems to be making even some of his senior ministers, including but not only Dichter and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, nervous, although those two have in the past expressed willingness to put the Golan on the chopping block for a rapprochement with Syria, and put off indefinitely a serious operation in Gaza, even as rockets and mortars continue to rain on southern Israel at a rate of more than 6 per day. Last week more than 24 rockets fell in a single day. Dichter cautioned that retired US general James Jones, who heads the mechanism to judge the implementation of road map obligations, could inaccurately assess the situation on the ground and make serious errors of judgment regarding the Palestinians' adherence to their commitments, once again, hinting that the American judgment is clouded by the need to make the facts on the ground correspond to their strategic political tilt away from Israel. The "US could make a mistake and decide that the Palestinians have fulfilled their commitments, which could entail very serious consequences from Israel's perspective," Dichter warned. Regarding Gaza, Dichter said there was nothing to discuss with Hamas, which he described as "an organization of murderers." He called on Israel to "create massive deterrence against Hamas, of the type that will bring the rocket fire and terror to a halt by any means, starting from a massive attack and sanctions, until they understand that it does not pay to fire Kassams." "Israel cannot allow a situation in which Hamas conducts a war of attrition from Gaza, while Israel is simultaneously holding negotiations with the Palestinians," Dichter said. He added that the Old City of Jerusalem was unquestionably part of Israeli Jerusalem, but regarding Syria, conceded that there could be no agreement without Israel withdrawing from the Golan, and that the question was which guarantees Israel would receive in return. Despite Dichter's expressed doubts, there are no indications that any Kadima or Labor ministers are willing to bolt the Olmert government anytime soon, despite the prospect of a withering Winograd report expected before the end of the year.
World Gathers Today to Donate Billions of Dollars to Divide GODS Land
Dec. 17….(FOJ) World donors met today in Paris and pledged $7.4 billion for the creation of a new Palestinian state. The massive sum beats the Palestinians' own expectations, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. Earlier, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the donors conference was the Palestinian government's "last hope" to avoid bankruptcy and urged fast and generous international aid from the world. "The Palestinian Authority is experiencing a serious budgetary crisis," Rice said, adding that the US government had pledged $555 million for 2008. "This conference is literally the government's last hope to avoid bankruptcy." Donors began committing funds from around the world for the moribund Palestinian economy amid a renewed international push for a Palestinian state.
Middle East envoy Tony Blair called it not just a donors' conference but also a "state-building conference." The meeting's host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called it a turning point in Mideast peace efforts after Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed last week ending a seven-year stall.
"What we must do now is work together before the end of 2008 for the creation of an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state," Sarkozy said in a speech to representatives from nearly 90 donor countries and international organizations. The European Union on Monday launched the day of pledges of aid by promising $650million in 2008. In 2007, the EU initially pledged $245million but ended up contributing $798 million for the year. In all, the EU and its member states gave about $1.45 billion to the Palestinians in 2007. The donors urged Arab states to do more. Since 2002, Arab League members have been promising the Palestinians $55million a month, but have not come through. Great Britain, France and Germany announced a combined $1.08billion in donations. Palestinian Prime Minister Fayad is trying to assure donor countries, which have given more than $10billion to the Palestinians over the past decade that the future money will not be squandered as it has been in the past. Alas, the world is gathered today to raise billions of dollars to divide GODS Land and so far the conference has raised about 7 billion exceeding the PAs request of 5.6 billion. It is absolutely amazing how much money the world will raise to oppose God’s designs for Israel.
Saudi Arabia Hosting the Hajj, and Ahmadinejad
Dec. 17….(FOJ) Millions of Muslims from around the world gathered in Mecca Sunday for the start of the annual Islamic hajj pilgrimage, as the Saudi Interior Ministry announced tough security precautions. Men and women draped in white robes circled the Kaaba, Islam's holiest site, seven times in a ceremony anticipating the official start of the pilgrimage on Monday. King Abdullah has invited 1,000 guests to this year's hajj, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Over the next two days, an estimated 2.5 million pilgrims will move out of Mecca to Mount Arafat for Tuesday's climax of symbolically stoning the devil. While Saudi Arabia and Iran have their differences, they share one thing…they both hate Israel, and would love nothing better than for Israel to be eradicated, and that characteristic is a direct product of the teachings of Allah, which is directly opposite from the providence of Jehovah.
Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Israel is Denied its Temple Mount, as Hamas plans Temple Mount Broadcast on Jewish holiday
Dec. 17….(WND) The Hamas terror organization is planning a radio broadcast Wednesday from the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, while the Israeli government has completely banned Jews and Christians from ascending the Mount that same day for fear of offending Muslims, WND has learned. "Our broadcast is very symbolic and is only the start," said Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' so-called military wing in the Gaza Strip. "In the coming years, Hamas and other organizations will be broadcasting freely from the Mount, which will be under full Islamic control protected by a Muslim army. Wednesday marks the Muslim holiday of Ein ul-Adhaa, which commemorates the Islamic belief of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael for Allah. The Torah says Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac, not Ishmael. Wednesday is also the Jewish fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, which commemorates the start of the siege of Jerusalem leading up to the destruction of the First Jewish Temple during the reign of the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar. The fast also was proclaimed to mourn the First Temple's destruction. Jewish organizations and Temple Mount activist groups here were planning mass visits to the Temple Mount Wednesday morning during the fast. Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the international department at Israel's Temple Institute, which planned to lead a tour of the Mount, told WND the Israeli police informed his group yesterday they decided the Mount would be closed Wednesday to non-Muslims for fear of offending Muslims on the Islamic holiday. Due to Israeli restrictions at Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount is open only to non-Muslims Sundays through Thursdays, 7:30 am to 10 am and 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, and not on any Christian, Jewish or Muslim holidays or other days considered "sensitive" by the Waqf, the Mount's Islamic custodians.
WEEK OF DECEMBER 10 THROUGH DECEMBER 16
Assad: Our Alliance with Iran Unshakable
(Syrian president insists country's ties with Iran stay strong despite Damascus' participation in Annapolis peace conference. 'Relations will not be shaken for any reason or under any circumstance.)
Dec. 14….(YNET) Syrian President Bashar Assad rejected claims that Syria’s alliance with Iran had been weakened by Damascus' participation in last month's US-sponsored Mideast peace conference, insisting Thursday that ties between the two countries will never be shaken. Assad made the comments as he inaugurated two joint Syrian-Iranian industrial projects, factories for cars and cement, according to the official SANA news agency. He was joined at the ceremonies by the Iranian industry and housing ministers. The November conference in Annapolis, which re-launched Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, was widely seen as also aimed at isolating Iran by bringing together Arab nations. US officials have expressed hopes that Syria's attendance would mark a start to easing it out of its alliance with Teheran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other top officials denounced the conference, and some officials expressed surprise over Syria's participation, though none directly criticized it.
Poll: Americans Still Overwhelming Support Israel
Americans' support for Israel in the conflict with the Arabs of Judea, Samaria
and Gaza remains extremely high, with 62 percent of Americans considering
themselves supporters of Israel and only 9 percent as "supporters of the
Palestinians." These are some of the findings of a new bipartisan poll
commissioned by The Israel Project. By a similar margin (61 to 10), Americans
believe the US should support Israel in the conflict with the Arabs of Judea,
Samaria and Gaza. TIP says this is in stark contrast to a 2002 poll, when fully
68 percent of Americans thought the US should take neither side in the conflict.
The poll also shows Americans do not believe the National Intelligence
Estimate on Iran's nuclear projects and worry the NIE report will make the US
less safe. The survey shows that while 75 percent of likely voters had heard
about the NIE report, only 27 percent believed its assessment that Iran’s
nuclear program ended in 2003, while 69 percent believe that the nuclear weapons
program is still underway.
Additionally, 64 percent fear America “will be less safe” based on this new intelligence estimate “because it might lead to reduced pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear capacity for good.” Only 27 percent thought “we are more safe” after the estimate “because it shows the threat from Iran is not as imminent as had been believed.” There is a clear sense that despite the NIE report, Americans remain very concerned about Iran and want to expand sanctions and other peaceful efforts to curtail the threat. Fully 85 percent of those polled consider Iran a serious threat, including 44 percent who consider it an immediate threat to the United States. More than three fourths of likely voters approve of “expanded United Nations economic and diplomatic actions” to deal with Iran and 85 percent approve of “support of opposition groups in Iran that are working for democracy and human rights.” Americans are uncomfortable even with Iran's supposed civilian nuclear research program. When asked, “Do you think Iran should be allowed to continue its civilian nuclear research program or should the international community try to prevent Iran from further nuclear research,” 69 percent agreed with the latter. Asked about the motivation of the earlier NIE reports that concluded that Iran was developing nuclear weapons, a majority (61 percent) did not believe they had been “deliberate misrepresentations.” Still, they do not trust the current NIE, instead preferring to believe British intelligence findings (67 percent) that Iran’s “nuclear weapons program continues." Yet most Americans want a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although just 39 percent had heard a “great deal” or “some” about the Annapolis peace talks, a wide majority of 81 percent believe that “the goal of peace talks in the Middle East should be both a Palestinian state and peace and security in recognized borders for Israel and the Palestinians.” This is in contrast to only 12 percent who believe "the goal of peace talks in the Middle East should solely be the creation of a Palestinian state."
'Israel's reaction understandable'
A big obstacle, however, remains PA terrorism. Fully 70 percent of respondents agree that “Palestinian acts of terrorism are unacceptable, no matter the conditions in which they live.” Even though 60 percent were "largely unaware of the 2,000 rockets that have been shot into Israel from Gaza," 63 percent agreed that “Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians are understandable given the security threat they face,” while only 29 percent believe them to be an overreaction. Nevertheless, most do not see a direct tie between the Israeli-PA conflict and international terrorism. By a 55 to 43 margin, a majority of Americans believe “a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would not have much of an impact on terrorism around the world. ”The poll of 800 US likely voters was conducted for The Israel Project by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent.
Saudi-Iranian Diplomacy Gains Impetus with Washington’s Blessing
(Moscow is the Benefactor)
Dec. 14….(DEBKA) Saudi king Abdullah has invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be the first Islamic Republic president to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, which begins on Dec. 18. It will be their second public appearance together in two weeks. Their first was at the GCC summit in Doha, where they arrived hand in hand. DEBKAfile has closely tracked the unfolding of the Saudi-brokered Washington-Tehran dialogue, moving on now to the evolution of Riyadh’s own epic rapprochement with Tehran. This development signals Saudi recognition of Iran and its president as regional powers and King Abdullah’s willingness to share his Middle East leadership role with an Iranian partner. The rug is implicitly pulled from under the international campaign to punish Iran severely for its nuclear activities, while Tehran’s ally Syria and surrogates, Hizballah, Hamas and Jihad Islami, gain new standing. Moscow has also announced a timetable for finishing Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr complete with fuel, thus exalting the Russian influence over the entire region.
World, Including US Conspiring Against Israel
Dec. 12….(FOJ) With its abrupt about face concerning the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the US is entering into league with some of the most dangerous enemies of Christianity and ultimately the little nation of Israel in the world. As the US consults and negotiates with Iran over the situation in Iraq, America is compromising its traditional support for the security of Israel. It should be no surprise to Bible prophecy students, for America has abandoned the God of its blessings, and accommodated the gods of this world. It only stands to reason that a nation that has “forgotten God” would seek to pacify the forces arrayed against Israel. (Psalms) 83:1-5 Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:)
Palestinians Continue to Rocket Sderot
Dec. 12….(Israel Today) Palestinian terrorists operating out of the Gaza Strip fired 18 rockets at the battered southern Israel town of Sderot on Wednesday. A young Israeli girl was wounded by shrapnel, and numerous other people were treated for shock. The Islamic Jihad terrorist organization and a Hamas-dominated umbrella group both claimed credit for the attack. Israel's security cabinet convened an emergency session in the wake of the barrage, but decided to continue with a policy of targeted military actions against the Gaza-based terrorist infrastructure, rather than launch the broad ground invasion many security experts say is the only way to curb the rocket fire. Data given to the cabinet revealed that the IDF has held 115 operations aimed at destroying terror infrastructure and Qassam cells in the Strip since the beginning of the year, and killed 260 Palestinian terrorists. Still, some 970 Qassam rockets and 1,200 mortar shells were fired from Gaza towards Israel since the beginning of 2007. Israel suffered five related casualties, three IDF soldiers and two civilians. Shortly after the cabinet meeting, Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal tendered his resignation, saying he could no longer bear the burden of trying to protect his town's residents, while the central government refuses to do everything in its power to likewise defend its citizens. Moyal has long criticized the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for not honoring its commitment to launch a crushing response to the Gaza rocket fire and thereby create a deterrent to future attacks. Moyal and others have also noted that no country in the world would accept the daily bombardment of its towns by an external enemy. Our sources stress that the onslaught underlines the bankruptcy of the Olmert government’s security policy in Israel’s southwestern Negev, due to its refusal to let the army root out the protracted peril hanging over its inhabitants.
Pope Warns Against Nuclear Proliferation
Dec. 12….(AP) Pope Benedict XVI said divisions and conflicts "cast dark shadows" on the future of humanity, warning of the danger coming from more countries possessing nuclear weapons. He urged authorities to step up negotiations for a "progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons." "Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future," Benedict said in his annual message to world leaders for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace on Jan. 1. He said "the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person." He did not name specific countries, although he lamented civil wars in Africa and said the Middle East "is still a theater of conflict and violence" affecting neighboring nations and regions. Cardinal Renato Martino, who presented the pope's message at a news conference, was asked if the pope was referring to concerns raised by Iran's nuclear program. He said "you could imagine" the message referred to current issues but added that "the Holy See never makes specific reference but merely brings up the problem."
Former Israeli Spy Chief: US Engaging Iran, Israel Must be Present
Dec. 12….(Israel Insider) The truth at last is coming out, and the American government is not looking particularly honorable, or reliable. Confirming what Israel Insider, Debkafile and other media sources have been saying for days, former Mossad head Efraim Halevy says that President George Bush and the US government is about to open direct talks with Iran on every subject under the sun. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, he warned that Israel must be present in such talks or it would be excluded from discussions on the future of the region. Of course, the US has no intention of including Israel in such talks or it wouldn't have pulled the Annapolis double-cross. Halevy said he had no doubt that Iran was bent on attaining a nuclear weapons capability, but that it could and must be deterred. He said that the latest American National Intelligence Estimate created an unjustified sense of relief among some because of its misleading talk of a halted Iranian nuclear weapons program, that in fact is likely to have resumed in different places soon after being temporarily suspended, with Iran engaging in disinformation to fool the United States, or at least providing a fig leaf for what the US planned to do anyway. Halevy emphasized that even with its misreadings, the report made clear in its crucial final sentence that "Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so." He said that it was overoptimistic to think that Iran would produce enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb only by late 2009 and certainly earlier than the 2010-2015 time frame. In any case, he said, Israel had to operate "on the basis of the worst-case scenario." Despite the Iranian regime's messianic drive to bring an end to Israel and thus bring the "12th Mahdi," he believed that Iran's government "operates in a rational way, based on its interests." At least, he hoped so. "They can be deterred," Halevy stated. "They have to be deterred." "In the situation now developing, US-Iranian engagement is coming closer and closer, regardless of whether it's in our interest or not," he said. "The US will engage them diplomatically whether we want it to or not. And if what is on the cards is engagement, it is essential that Israel have a seat at the table. The future of the region cannot be determined with Israel outside the door." Asked why Iran would agree to any such direct contact with Israel, Halevy said that Israel should ensure that the US makes it a precondition. "As with Annapolis, everyone has to be there," he said. He ignored the fact however, that Iran was not in Annapolis, which was to be an assembly of the moderates against the radicals, such as Iran and Syria. Instead, the United States lured Israel's government into agreeing to unrealistic commitments such as a peace treaty within a year and then agreeing to have the US serve as "judge" of compliance with the "road map," without reference to Israeli objections to the road map, and President Bush's qualifying letter of April 2004 which made it clear that Israel could not be expected to return to the pre-1967 borders or accept Palestinian refugees. At the same time, the United States was pursuing a back-channel deal with Iran, brokered by the Saudis, in which Israel was to be dealt out and left alone to face the Iranian nuclear threat. The feeling of being double-crossed by the Americans is widespread in the Israeli security establishment. Veteran journalist Yossi Klein Halevy (no known relation to Efraim), writes from Israel for the New Republic: "The sense of betrayal within the Israeli security system is deep. After all, Israel's great achievement in its struggle against Iran was in convincing the international community that the nuclear threat was real; now that victory has been undone, not by Russia or the European Union, but by Israel's closest ally." "What makes Israeli security officials especially furious," Halevy writes, "is that the report casts doubt on Iranian determination to attain nuclear weapons. There is a sense of incredulity here: Do we really need to argue the urgency of the threat all over again?" He cities a "a key security analyst" as saying: "The report didn't surprise me. The American intelligence system isn't very healthy. It has been thoroughly politicized. I saw it when I brought hard evidence to them through the 1990s about how the Palestinian Authority was violating its commitments. Their responses weren't professional but political. This report only deepens the crisis of confidence we feel in the US." A recent example of US intelligence failure, compounded by politicization, involves Syria's nuclear weapons program: "The Syrians were working on their nuclear project for seven years, and we discovered it only recently," says one security analyst. "The Americans didn't know about it all. So how can they be so sure about Iran?"
Iran Drops the US Dollar
Dec. 11….(FOJ) Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari announced that "At the moment selling oil in dollars has been completely halted, in line with the policy of selling crude in non-dollar currencies." Sales of crude oil will now be priced in Euros. OPEC member nations exporting oil in USDs have been hard-hit by the decline in value and have been urged by Iran, the fourth largest producer of crude, to follow their lead. Recently, Iranian banks have also been blacklisted by the US Government for supporting terrorism, and pursuing nuclear weapons.
Support Sought for Temple Mount Synagogue
11….(IsraelNN.com) Haifa's long-time Chief Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen, who
has taken part in many interfaith conferences and gatherings with Moslem
religious leaders, says he's trying to gather support for a synagogue on the
Temple Mount. Rabbi Cohen, son of the late renowned Torah scholar known as the
Nazir, Rabbi David Cohen, chairs the Chief Rabbinate Council for the
Establishment of a Synagogue on the Temple Mount. Speaking on a special Temple
Mount radio program on Voice of Israel's Moreshet (Tradition)-channel this week,
he said he is working in the United States to amass support for the project.
Other rabbis have also called for the construction of a Jewish prayer site on
the Temple Mount. Jewish Temple Mount supporters greeted Rabbi Cohen's
announcement with enthusiasm. The Movement for the Establishment of the Temple
declared, "The holiday of Chanukah, commemorating the liberation and
purification of the Mount and the Temple, is the perfect time for the
establishment of a prayer site for the Jewish People on the Mount. This will be
a step towards full Jewish sovereignty over the holy site." Rabbi Cohen took
advantage of the opportunity to call upon the observant Jewish public to visit
the site of the Holy Temple. He said this must be done only after taking the
prescribed Halakhic [Jewish legal] precautions, such as immersing in a mikveh
beforehand and others. On Monday, the famous golden Menorah, (candelabrum)
suitable for use in the Holy Temple, and familiar to visitors to the Cardo
section of the Old City of Jerusalem, was relocated to the landing of the wide
staircase that leads down from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall. The
$3-million, one-half ton Menorah is protected inside the same type of glass
structure that has housed it until now. The Menorah's construction was made
possible through the generosity of Vadim Rabinovitch, a leader of the Jewish
community of Ukraine.
National Intelligence Estimate Nuclear Declaration Part Of Broader Deal Brokered With Iran
Dec. 11….(By Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) The Bush Administration may well have cut a deal with Iran that if it quits supplying roadside bombs, terrorists and other assistance to the enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US will back off its pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, leaving Israel in a precarious and increasingly dangerous position. When US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker met May 4th with his Iranian counterpart, Crocker urged Iran to consider helping stabilize Iraq by stopping its supplies of military and technical assistance. Saudi Arabia was at the table during that meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Since then, several sources indicate that Saudi Arabia has been using its relationship with the Bush Administration to leverage dialogue between Iran and the United States. The Annapolis Peace Summit appeared to rally a group of so-called moderate Arab states against Iran, but below the surface there was a lot of diplomatic action taking place. Security Analyst DebkaFile reports that out of those meetings, Saudi Arabia brokered an understanding between the Bush Administration and Iran that would take off the table the US military option against Iran. In return, Iran would halt its arms smuggling into Iraq, not interfere with the Annapolis Summit, and not interfere in the Lebanese elections. The centerpiece of this reported agreement, according to DebkaFile sources, was the National Intelligence Estimate that stated Iran had stopped its nuclear program. This admission, though crafted with many caveats, is reportedly supposed to buy the Bush Administration a shut down of arms from Iran to Iraq and Afghanistan, and a clearing of the way for a Lebanese Presidential Election, by a candidate that will give the terrorist group Hezbollah a place of influence in the Lebanese government. In addition, Hamas, Syrian officials and the Saudis are working a plan for a truce in Gaza so that Israel has no excuse to take military action there. By taking US support away from Israel on any military option against Iran and in Gaza, the Islamic War of Aggression has won a major victory to allow Iran faster “hands off” development of a nuclear weapon, the election of a pro-Syrian, pro-Hezbollah president in Lebanon, and a prominent role for Saudi Arabia, home base for most of the 9/11 terrorists, in brokering “peace” in the Middle East. The US receives a reprieve on the Iraqi front. Israel is positioned to “go it alone” to defend itself against Iran, Hamas and other terrorist enemies. The Bush Administration appears to have been too cleaver for its own good. Jeremiah 8:15 says, “We looked for peace, but no good came.” Cunning deals have cunning results.
Moscow Pushing for its Mideast Peace Summit in April
Dec. 11….() The United States supports the holding of a second peace conference in Moscow that would address Israel's conflicts with Syria and Lebanon as well as the Palestinian issue, according to information obtained by the Foreign Ministry from Russian sources in recent days. Nevertheless, government sources in Jerusalem said they have some doubts about the Russian claim, as they have received contradictory reports from Washington. They added that they expect the situation to become clearer at next week's meeting of donor nations to the Palestinian Authority, as representatives of the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia, will meet on the sidelines to discuss whether to hold a Moscow conference and if so, when and in what format. According to the Foreign Ministry's information, obtained from conversations with Russian diplomats in both Moscow and UN headquarters in New York, the conference would probably take place in April 2008 and would be at the level of foreign ministers. Last month's Middle East peace summit, held in Annapolis, Maryland, focused almost exclusively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Russia had expressed interest in hosting a follow-up event that would broaden the agenda. Thus far, no member of the Quartet has publicly voiced opposition to Russia's proposal. The Russian diplomats assured their Israeli counterparts that the proposed Moscow event, like Annapolis, would be billed as a "meeting" rather than a "conference." They also said that its purpose would not be to finalize agreements, but merely to move the Middle East peace process forward. According to the information reaching Jerusalem, the Russians would like to divide the event into two sessions. The first would be devoted to assessing the progress of bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while the second would deal with the issue of a comprehensive regional peace, with particular emphasis on resumption of negotiations between Israel and Syria, and the launching of Israeli-Lebanese talks. According to the Russians, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice approves of both the proposed Moscow meeting and the idea of restarting Israeli-Syrian talks.
Israel: US Intel is False , Iran Nuke Program at Full Speed
(Official cites 'incriminating information,' rips American report as 'politically charged')
Dec. 10….(WND) Israel has "incriminating" information Iran has continued its nuclear weapons program, a senior Israeli security official told WND, directly contradicting last week's US intelligence report stating Tehran suspended its ambition in 2003. "The Iranians continue their push for nuclear weapons in specific ways, including the acquisition and development of missiles," said the official who has access to classified Israeli defense material and intelligence reports on Iran. "Iran hides its nuclear weapons program but it continues nonetheless," he said, indicating the US estimate may have been "politically motivated." The security official said Israel possesses "incriminating" information that Iran continues its purported drive to obtain nuclear weapons. But he said the government here has not yet decided what to do regarding the information and material Israel purportedly possesses. The official said the US estimate has "many holes in it." He said Israel is "gravely concerned" the report may remove the US military option against Iran from the table, and is likely to be the foundation for Russian and Chinese vetoes against further sanctions on Iran scheduled to be discussed tomorrow at the United Nations. The US National Intelligence Estimate, which represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, released its report last week judging with "high confidence" that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The report judged with "moderate confidence" that Iran has not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007. "But we do not know whether Iran currently intends to develop nuclear weapons," stated the NIE report. The report totaled only nine pages. The first page was a colored cover with no information. Four pages gave the background history of the NIE, with one page focusing on the scope of the report on Iran and another page including a coded chart on how to read the report. One page compared the report to a previous estimate. Only two pages focused on the report's key judgments on Iran, which were worded as blanket statements and which were not backed up by any specific information released in the report. The NIE report said some agencies judged Iran could produce enough enriched fissile material to make a nuclear weapon within two years, in line with some Israeli estimates, while other agencies, including the State Department's Intelligence and Research office, believe the earliest likely time Iran could have enough highly enriched uranium would be 2013. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today delicately criticized the NIE report, stating in a Knesset briefing Israel's stance on the Iranian nuclear issue would not change despite the American report. Israeli security officials, speaking to WND, said there were enormous holes in the NIE report that are very easy for the Jewish state to point out. One official said he was confident that "in time" the report would be "exposed as faulty." Numerous news reports in recent days have attempted to punch holes in the NIE report. London's Sunday Telegraph quoted a senior British official stating the UK believes Iran deliberately fed misinformation to the US about its nuclear program. The official expressed skepticism about the findings in the NIE report. "We are skeptical about the report's findings. It's not as if the American intelligence are regarded as brilliant performers in that region," the official was quoted as telling the Telegraph. Meanwhile, at today's Knesset session, Israeli lawmakers blasted the report and questioned America's commitment to Israel and its front against Iran. "It cannot be that Bush is committed to peace as was declared at Annapolis, and then the Americans propagate such an intelligence report which contradicts the information we have proving Iran intends to obtain nuclear weapons," stated Minister Yitzhak Cohen, a member of the Shas party, a key coalition partner in Olmert's government. Cohen compared the NIE report to what he said were faulty reports released by the US during the Holocaust that Jews were not being killed in spite of information possessed by American intelligence of the existence of concentration camps. "In the middle of the previous century the Americans received intelligence reports from Auschwitz on the packed trains going to the extermination camps. They claimed then that the railways were industrial. Their attitude today to the information coming out of Iran on the Iranians' intention to produce a nuclear bomb reminds one of their attitude during the Holocaust," stated Cohen.
Huckabee: US Has Abandoned Christ
(“I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.”)
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”/ Malachi 3:16
The News) Government may have dropped the ball in modern American society,
but churches and religion dropped it first, Gov. Mike Huckabee told Southern
Baptist pastors Sunday night. The reason we have so much government is because
we have broken humanity,” he said. “And the reason we have so much broken
humanity is because sin reigns in the hearts and lives of human beings
instead of the Savior.” Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister,
addressed his contemporaries at the two-day Pastors’ Conference, which continues
today. The three-day Southern Baptist Convention begins Tuesday here in the
heartland of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the city in
which the Mormons have their world headquarters.
IDF Favors Independent Action against Nuclearized Iran, Despite US Intelligence Reassessment
Dec. 9….(DEBKA) The special defense and foreign affairs cabinet meeting of Dec. 9 did not linger on the dispute between Israel and the US over its last National Intelligence Estimate, which absolves Iran from running a nuclear weapons program from 2003. After briefings from intelligence chiefs, the ministers focused on what to do next. Most objected to letting Israel’s hands be tied by the Bush administration’s apparent waiver of its military option against Iran. They began exploring how to restructure and reorient the missions of Israel’s military from now on and, secondly, how to adapt the IDF’s strategy to the challenges on its multiple fronts, Syria, Lebanon, Hizballah and the Gaza Strip’s Palestinian terror groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in the light of the emerging understanding among the US, Saudi Arabia and Iran
Israel Requires NATO to Secure Jewish State
Dec. 9….(JNEWSWIRE) If Israel is to go ahead and surrender half its historic homeland to the Palestinian Arabs, it will need NATO to help ensure the Jewish state is not overrun and destroyed. This is the point of view of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who on Friday appealed to her NATO nation counterparts at a meeting in Brussels. According to The Jerusalem Post, Livni told her audience - which included foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria - that it was important to begin dialoguing with NATO "to make sure that we [Israel] do not jeopardize our security and our future." Livni's admission of existential risks posed to Israel by IDF withdrawals comes just days after she accompanied Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Annapolis, Maryland, where they together affirmed their willingness to relinquish control over, and ownership of, the heart of Israel's 4000-year-old national home. Israel has always fiercely guarded its reliance on its own military to protect and defend the state, and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is widely considered to be the most battle-proven military force in the world. Anti-Zionist politicians in Israel, especially those at the forefront of the push to surrender Jewish land for Arab promises of peace, have in the past been willing to consider introducing foreign forces into the areas from which Israel has withdrawn, like the Gaza Strip. For their part, consecutive Israeli governments have lacked the statesmanship needed to make a priority of using the IDF to defend their own people.
IDF Has 'Hard' Evidence on Iran's Nuclear Program
Dec. 9….(Ha Aretz) Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Gabi Asklenazi plan to meet with US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Michael Mullen in his rare visit to Israel beginning Sunday, to present hard evidence that the Iranians are in fact developing nuclear weapons to counter last week's US intelligence report claiming Iran halted its drive for atomic arms four years ago. IDF intelligence may support the stance that the White House took on Iran when last August Mike McConnell, the US director of national intelligence, informed President Bush of information showing that Iran does in fact have a covert weapons program, but it may have been suspended. The Bush administration could obtain from Israel the intelligence gaps discussed in the previous National Intelligent Estimate which led to the then assessment of "only moderate confidence" that the halt to some of Iran's activities represents an entire halt of their nuclear weapons program.
WEEK OF DECEMBER 3 THROUGH DECEMBER 9
Dec. 7….(Kenneth R. Timmerman) Somehow, this music is familiar. The Islamic Republic of Iran, once thought to be working on nuclear weapons, has seen the folly of its ways. Without saying a word to anyone, it has canceled clandestine work on the bomb, but our sharp intelligence warriors learned all about it and have now warned the White House and Democrats in Congress: Iran is no longer a threat. The world can sleep soundly at night. Behold, it's Peace in Our Time. The truth, of course, is far more nuanced. What the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran actually said for the first time in an official, United States government document released to the public, is that Iran was actively pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003. The NIE also said Iran continues to enrich uranium and will have enough highly enriched material to make its first bomb by the end of 2009. Or by 2013. Or perhaps 2015. It all depends, we are told, on just how much progress the Iranians have made in this part of their program. That uncertainty, which is absolutely critical, concerns the one part of Iran's nuclear programs that is open and has been declared (since 2003) to the International Atomic Energy Agency. If the US intelligence community can't give us a reliable estimate on the status of that declared program, how can they state with “high confidence” that Tehran halted a clandestine nuclear weapons effort in fall 2003? If Iran actually stopped something, we don't know what it is. Because, of course, what they stopped was covert and has never been declared or inspected. But we do know quite a lot. We know, for example, that Iran announced last week the successful test of a new, multistage, solid-fuel missile, the Ashoura. This new missile is said to have a range of about 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), and brings most of Europe into range of Iran. Why is this new missile important? For one simple reason, according to Israeli missile expert, Uzi Rubin. “A solid-propellant, multistage missile is the big milestone on the way to developing an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile,” he said at a conference hosted Tuesday by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. If the Iranians can make the Ashoura fly, “they will have achieved the capability” of launching ICBMs at Europe or the United States. Why would Iran want to develop an ICBM without a nuclear warhead? That question was not addressed in the National Intelligence Estimate, according to the declassified summary released Monday. There are many additional questions raised by the NIE that should give us pause. Here are just two: (1) The information that Iran stopped some unspecified nuclear weapons work in autumn 2003 seems based on a single, unvetted source, an Iranian defector who provided information to a foreign intelligence service. What confidence do our intelligence analysts have in this defector? With the CIA's miserable track record in dealing with Iranian defectors, I suspect I know the answer. (2) What about the possibility of strategic deception? We are told the National Intelligence Council considered this possibility, and ultimately rejected it. And yet, Iranian and Russian intelligence services have a deep, longstanding relationship. Let's not forget that the Soviets invented the entire art form of maskirovka as a means of gaining strategic surprise. Iran's new nuclear “negotiator,” Saeed Jalali, recently told the European Union's Javier Solana that Iran now intended to “go back to Square One” in its nuclear negotiations with the West. This was before release of the NIE. Was it just a coincidence that Mr. Jalali then flew to Moscow on Dec. 3, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and top national security adviser, Valentin Sobolov? My Iranian sources tell me there was a great deal of gloating behind those closed doors in Moscow about how the Iranians had managed to put one over on us. President Bush had it just right at his press conference Tuesday. Setting aside the questions raised by the accuracy of the NIE, the one thing everyone agrees on is this: Iran continues to enrich uranium, and that gives Iran the capability to make weapons should they so choose. What we can't do today any better than we could two years ago, or ever, is read into their minds to discern intent. And yet, this is precisely where the NIE falls down. It attempts to ascribe peaceful intentions to Iran's leaders, intentions that fly in the face of their words, their actions, and their proven capabilities.
Russia’s Lavrov: 'No Proof Iran had Nuke Program'
Dec. 6….(Jerusalem Post) Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday there was no proof that Iran has ever run a nuclear weapons program, and praised Teheran for its readiness to cooperate with the United Nations nuclear watchdog. "Data that we have seen don't allow anyone to say with certainty that Iran has ever had a nuclear weapons program," Sergei Lavrov said when asked to comment on the US intelligence report saying that Iran suspended its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003. He said he was referring to the intelligence data which Washington had provided to Moscow as part of a dialogue on Iran over the past few years. Lavrov indicated that the US acknowledgment that Iran halted a suspected nuclear weapons bid in 2003 undermined Washington's push for a new set of UN sanctions against Iran. "We will assess the situation regarding a new UN Security Council resolution taking into account all these factors, including the public US confirmation that there is no information about the existence of a covert nuclear weapons program in Iran," Lavrov told reporters after talks with his Armenian counterpart. "We have no information that such efforts had been conducted before 2003, even though our American colleagues said it was so," Lavrov said. Russia and China, another important ally of Iran, have grudgingly approved two sets of limited UN sanctions against Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. But the Kremlin has bristled at the US push for tougher measures, saying they would only widen the rift. Lavrov said the International Atomic Energy Agency should continue its work in Iran to clarify all outstanding issues related to Tehran's nuclear program. "Naturally, we will need a full clarity," he said. "We support the IAEA's activities, which the IAEA and Iran have pledged to actively pursue. We support Iran's determination to do that, and we will determine our future steps based on professional expert conclusions of the IAEA." On Tuesday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin told Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, that Tehran's nuclear program should be transparent and remain under control of the UN nuclear watchdog. Lavrov said that Putin urged Jalili to fully cooperate with the IAEA, answer all its questions and also meet international demands to freeze its uranium enrichment program. Russia has taken a careful stance on Iran, where it is building a $1 billion nuclear reactor, seeking to preserve economic and political ties with Teheran without angering the West. During his trip to Iran in October, Putin promised that Russia would complete the Bushehr plant, but refused to say when it could begin operations.
Palestinian Radio Celebrates Hitler
Dec. 6….(Israel Today) Voice of Palestine radio last month broadcast a biography of Adolph Hitler celebrating his military victories and heroism, the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch reported this week. The radio station, which is controlled by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' government, failed to mention Hitler's attempted extermination of the Jews. That came as little surprise to those familiar with Abbas' previous denial of the Holocaust. Palestinian Media Watch noted that the Palestinian education system likewise ignores the systematic slaughter of Europe's Jews during World War II. Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf, remains a best-seller in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories.
Analysis: Why Does US and Israeli Intell Differ?
Dec. 6….(Ha Aretz) The US intelligence report released Monday with the claim that Iran froze its nuclear military track four years ago has Israel concerned that the United States is weakening its strong stance against Iran that had President George W. Bush warning that World War III would break out if the ayatollahs got their hands on a bomb. What the report makes even clearer are the major differences between the various intelligence agencies in Israel and the United States. The Mossad claims that the Iranians will be able to develop a nuclear bomb by the end of 2009; Military Intelligence warns that Teheran will cross the technological threshold within six months; and now the Americans are putting the timeline toward the middle of the next decade, or 2013 at the earliest. Defense officials in Tel Aviv admitted Tuesday that the report would probably embolden Iran, even though the differences between Israel and the US were not so great as a superficial reading of the report might indicate. The core of the disagreement is over the question of whether Iran abandoned its military nuclear program. While the American report claims they froze the program in 2003, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday it was highly probable that it was restarted shortly thereafter. Putting this disagreement aside, however, both countries are on the same page regarding the possibility that Iran’s civilian nuclear program could be used to manufacture bombs when it is completed. Here, the date is the only difference. But the basic question remains: What is the true timeline? Here, as with anything from the world of intelligence, there is no clear answer. While there is high-level cooperation between the US and Israel on Iran, each intelligence agency has its own sources and its own modus operandi. Both countries are also influenced by different political agendas. The Americans, for example, are still traumatized by the blatant intelligence failure vis-à-vis Iraq’s alleged WMD and, therefore, does not want to be caught crying wolf again. Israel, on the other hand, is traumatized by its failure to learn of Libya’s nuclear program before it was abandoned in a deal Col. Muammar Gaddafi struck with the US and UK. As a result of these traumas, both countries interpret the situation a little differently. Israel takes the more stringent track. As one defense official put it on Tuesday, “It is better to be safe than sorry.” However, in America, where there is an already-growing anti-war sentiment, the report is meant to send a message that the military option is, at least for now, off the table. One official involved in high-level discussions about Iran raised a hypothesis on Tuesday that the release of the report on Monday was actually timed with an announcement made on Sunday that America had succeeded in getting the Chinese to agree to a new round of sanctions. By taking the military option off the table, the official suggested, the US might succeed in getting China and Russia on board for sanctions.
Fatah Stands 'Ready to Unite with Hamas'
(Top minister in Abbas' government says Fatah would join ranks with Islamist group if it agrees to share power in Gaza Strip or if Israel launches major attack there. 'We must stand together to fight the occupation)
Dec. 6….(YNET) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization would join ranks with the Hamas terror group if it agreed to share power in the Gaza Strip or if Israel launched a major attack in Gaza, a member of Abbas' government told WND on Thursday during an exclusive interview. "If Hamas agrees to stop their coup in Gaza then why shouldn't we (Fatah) be together with them? We are open for dialogue and reconciliation," said Qadura Fares, a member of the PA parliament and a top minister in Abbas' government. Fares' remarks come one week after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert committed at last week's US-sponsored Annapolis summit to aim at concluding an agreement with Abbas by next year in which the Jewish state is widely expected to evacuate swaths of the strategic West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, handing the territories to Abbas. Fares' statements also come as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday asked Congress to approve a $400 million aid package, stating the massive new proposed funding was meant to boost Abbas against Hamas. "Fatah will try to defend Gaza if Hamas is attacked there by Israel. We must stand together to fight the occupation," said Fares. Hamas last year won a majority of Palestinian parliamentary seats and forged a national unity government with Abbas' Fatah party which was maintained until Hamas took complete control of the Gaza Strip this past summer, seizing all US-backed Fatah security compounds in the territory in less than seven days. Since then, the US reportedly has provided emergency aid, including funds and weapons shipments, to bolster Abbas against Hamas in the West Bank. But there have been reports Hamas and Fatah might reconcile. According to Fatah political sources speaking to WND, the Egyptian and Saudi Arabian governments have been moderating between their party and Hamas in an attempt to reform a Palestinian unity government. The sources said Abbas set as a precondition for reconciliation Hamas giving up its seizure of Gaza and has expressed willingness to allow Egyptian forces to control Fatah's former compounds in Gaza instead of Fatah forces immediately entering the territory. The Fatah sources said Abbas did not ask Hamas to recognize Israel or agree to commitments expressed at last week's Annapolis as a precondition for any reconciliation. Meanwhile some Fatah officials are reportedly urging Abbas to rejoin Hamas without any preconditions. Yesterday, members of Fatah's revolutionary voted for Abbas to hold unconditional and immediate talks with Hamas aimed at a new unity government. In response, Hamas leader in Gaza and deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh today renewed his previous calls for dialogue with Abbas.
Ahmadinejad Declares Victory, Baradei Gloats, Russians Mock, Bush Stutters
Dec. 6….(Israel Insider) President George W. Bush, trying desperately to keep some pressure on Iran, called on Teheran Wednesday to "come clean" about the scope of its nuclear activities or else face diplomatic isolation. But his detractors were laughing in his face. Bush, the ground cut out from under him by a report he had to have seen weeks if not months ago, demanded that Teheran detail its previous program to develop nuclear weapons. That program was reportedly stopped in 2003, a fact which US intelligence agencies apparently just "discovered" recently. Israel insists that in 2006 the nuclear weapons programs were resumed, a claim that the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran rejects with a "moderate" level of certainty. That phrase has become something of a black joke in Israel, since that "moderate" difference could mean the difference between life and death for the Jewish State. Israeli analysts and officials bluntly concluded that the "spin" of saying the program was probably not restarted reeked of political intervention, since the Israeli intelligence estimate is highly certain that the weapons program is proceeding at a rapid pace.
US Intel Reversal Was Possibly Duped by Iran
Dec. 5….(Newsmax) A highly controversial, 150 page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear programs was coordinated and written by former State Department political and intelligence analysts, not by more seasoned members of the U.S. intelligence community, Newsmax has learned. Its most dramatic conclusion, that Iran shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 in response to international pressure, is based on a single, unvetted source who provided information to a foreign intelligence service and has not been interviewed directly by the United States. Newsmax sources in Tehran believe that Washington has fallen for “a deliberate disinformation campaign” cooked up by the Revolutionary Guards, who laundered fake information and fed it to the United States through Revolutionary Guards intelligence officers posing as senior diplomats in Europe.
American Liberal politicians Are Playing a Dangerous Game
The National Intelligence Council, which produced the NIE, is chaired by Thomas Fingar, “a State Department intelligence analyst with no known overseas experience who briefly headed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. I wrote about him in my book "Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender." Fingar was a key partner of Senate Democrats in their successful effort to derail the confirmation of John Bolton in the spring of 2005 to become the US permanent representative to the United Nations. As the head of the NIC, Fingar has gone out of his way to fire analysts “who asked the wrong questions,” and who challenged the politically-correct views held by Fingar and his former State Department colleagues, as revealed in "Shadow Warriors." In March 2007, Fingar fired his top Cuba and Venezuela analyst, Norman Bailey, after he warned of the growing alliance between Castro and Chavez. Bailey’s departure from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was applauded by the Cuban government news service Granma, who called Bailey “a patent relic of the Reagan regime.” And Fingar was just one of a coterie of State Department officials brought over to ODNI by the first director, career State Department official John Negroponte. Collaborating with Fingar on the Iran estimate, released on Monday, were Kenneth Brill, the director of the National Counterproliferation Center, and Vann H. Van Diepen, the National Intelligence officer for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation. “Van Diepen was an enormous problem,” a former colleague of his from the State Department told me when I was fact gathering for "Shadow Warriors." “He was insubordinate, hated WMD sanctions, and strived not to implement them,” even though it was his specific responsibility at State to do so, the former colleague told me. Kenneth Brill, also a career foreign service officer, had been the US representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in 2003-2004 before he was forced into retirement. Shadow Warrior" reports, “While in Vienna, Brill consistently failed to confront Iran once its clandestine nuclear weapons program was exposed in February 2003, and had to be woken up with the bureaucratic equivalent of a cattle prod to deliver a single speech condemning Iran’s eighteen year history of nuclear cheating.” Negroponte rehabilitated Brill and brought the man who single-handedly failed to object to Iran’s nuclear weapons program and put him in charge of counter-proliferation efforts for the entire intelligence community. Christian Westermann, another favorite of Senate Democrats in the Bolton confirmation hearings, was among the career State Department analysts tapped by Fingar and Brill. As a State Department intelligence analyst, Westermann had missed the signs of biological weapons development in Cuba, and played into the hands of Castro apologist Sen. Christopher Dodd, D, Conn., by continuing to use impeached intelligence reports on Cuba that had been written by self-avowed Cuban spy, Ana Belen Montes. “After failing to recognize the signs of biological weapons development in Cuba and Cuba’s cooperation with Iran, Westermann was promoted to become national intelligence officer for biological weapons,” I wrote. “Let’s hope a walk-in defector from Iranian intelligence doesn’t tell us that Iran has given biological weapons to terrorists to attack new York or Chicago,” I added, “because Westermann will certainly object that the source of that information was not reliable, at least, until Americans start dying.” It now appears that this is very similar to what happened while the intelligence community was preparing the Iran NIE. Washington Times journalist Bill Gertz suggests in today’s print edition of the paper that Revolutionary Guards Gen. Alireza Asgari, who defected while in Turkey in February, was the human source whose information led to the NIE”s conclusion that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. But intelligence sources in Europe told Newsmax in late September that Asgari’s debriefings on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs were “so dramatic” that they caused French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his foreign minister to speak out publicly about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Those comments were prompted by reports that were given to the French president about Iran’s nuclear weapons program derived from debriefings of the defector, Gen. Ashgari, a Newsmax intelligence source in Europe said. Ashgari is the highest-level Iranian official to have defected to the West since the Islamic revolution of 1979. His defection set off a panic in Tehran. As a senior member of the general staff of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Asgari had access to highly-classified intelligence information, as well as strategic planning documents, as I reported at the time. A damage assessment then underway in Tehran was expected to “take months” to complete, so extensive was Asgari’s access to Iran’s nuclear and intelligence secrets. Asgari had detailed knowledge of Iranian Revolutionary Guards units operating in Iraq and Lebanon because he had trained some of them. He also knew some of the secrets of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, because he had been a top procurement officer and a deputy minister of defense in charge of logistics. In an effort to cover up the failure of Iranian counter-intelligence to prevent Asgari’s defection, a Persian language Web site run by the former Revolutioanry Guards Comdr. Gen. Mohsen Rezai claimed in March that Asgari was on a CIA “hit list” of 20 former Revolutionary Guards officers and had been assassinated. The Senate intelligence committee will be briefed today on the NIE, and the House committee on Wednesday. But already, the declassified summary has Republicans grumbling on Capitol Hill. “We want to know why we should believe this,” one congressional Republican told Newsmax. “This is such a departure from the past and there are so many unanswered questions.” While the intelligence community is supposed to report just the facts and its assessment of those facts and their reliability to policy-makers, this NIE clear advocates policy positions. “Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue that we judged previously,” the NIC wrote in the declassified “Key Judgments” of the NIE. The NIE opined that the new assessment leads to the policy conclusion that the United States should offer “some combination of threats of intensified international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities,” in order to lock in Iranian good behavior. This carrot and stick approach has been the State Department’s preferred policy for the past 27 years, and has only strengthened the resolve of Iran’s leaders to continue defying the United States. “Those countries that assume that decaying methods such as psychological war, political propaganda and the so-called economic sanctions would work and prevent Iran's fast drive toward progress are mistaken," Ahmadinejad said in Tehran in September at a military parade. By “progress” Ahmadinejad was referring to Iran’s recently-declared success at enriching uranium. With the report, now Ahmadinejad can claim victory for Iran and its nuclear program.
President Bush to Visit Israel Next Month
Dec. 5….(IsraelNN.com) United States President George W. Bush will visit Israel in the middle of January. The trip was planned during Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to the White House last week and was kept secret until Tuesday, when it was announced on Channel 2 television in Israel. It still is not clear if Bush will also visit other countries in the region, and whether he will meet with Mahmoud Abbas. Bush's visit to Israel is seen both as a follow-up on the Annapolis conference, and a show of support for Olmert and Israel against the background of the Iranian nuclear crisis. It still is not clear whether President Bush's wife, Laura, will accompany him on the trip, nor is it known if Bush will visit other countries in the region, like Jordan or Egypt. George W. Bush has visited Israel previously, most recently when he was Governor of Texas, in 1998. He met with many Israeli leaders and visited various sites, including the Western Wall. In 2003 he took part in the Akaba summit, just west of Eilat.
Some critics of US President Bush blasted him before the Annapolis conference, for not having visited the region he was so concerned about in the years since taking office. In the recent summit at Annapolis, Maryland, Israel and the PA agreed to hold intensive negotiations with the aim of reaching an accord by the end of Bush's second term, in late 2008.
When Will Iran Have a Bomb?
(Spy agencies worldwide divided on Iran threat; Israel fears ‘worst case scenario’)
Dec. 5….(Israel Insider) The story goes like this: The Mossad says the Iranians will be producing their first nuclear device by 2009. The IDF’s intelligence branch talks about Iran acquiring all the knowledge needed to produce a bomb within six months. The CIA says Iran will have a bomb by 2011, or maybe only in the middle of the next decade, that is, 2015. Confused? We’re not done yet. The US State Department’s research division is talking about 2013 as the target date, but all intelligence bodies that contributed to the US report published Monday agree that Iran stopped developing its military nuclear program in 2003 because of international pressure, yet continues to enrich uranium. The report says Iran does not employ a clandestine path, but the same report two years ago claimed it does employ such path, and Israel firmly argues that Iran is indeed doing it to this very day. All of the above is public information only, and we haven’t said a word yet about the various and differing views of intelligence agencies in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, and Egypt, which also have a position on the matter. So what is the truth? When will Iran really have a bomb? Where should the public anxiety index be? First, we should treat the report published in the US Monday, which contradicts previous reports published in the same forum, with the same skepticism that should be reserved for alarmist assessments frequently provided by Israeli intelligence agencies. Israel has been slammed in Washington over the fact that since 2001, in every meeting between an Israeli prime minister and an American president, Israel claimed that Iran is “six months away” from reaching the “technological threshold.” Sources in the American capital say that Israel made a fool of itself while trying to alarm the world.
Is Iran fooling the world again?
At the same time, we must recall that US intelligence officials have their own agenda. It consists of excessive caution in the wake of the huge screw-up in the efforts to uncover Saddam Hussein’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. This agenda is also affected by their unwillingness to back military action against Iran, especially after wallowing in the Iraqi swamp as a result of the above-mentioned screw-up. Foreign intelligence agencies that maintain contacts with the Mossad and Military Intelligence have been complaining in recent months that they are not receiving from Israel the evidence that would justify our Armageddon predictions regarding Iran. An echo of these complaints can be found in Monday’s report, which contradicts the analysis of Israel’s secret services. However, this report mostly relies on assessments, rather than absolute and in depth knowledge of what’s going on in Iran. The Ayatollah regime already surprised us in the past with its ability to hide a secret path en route to the bomb. There is no guarantee they are not doing it again. For Israel, the report is big trouble: It brings closer what Israel views as the worst case scenario in addressing the Iranian threat. One of the top figures dealing with the Iranian threat recently said the following in a closed-door forum: “The relationship between Israel and the US is more complex than ever. We may see a situation, which I view as the worst possibility, where the US president tells us: ‘I don’t want to draw the required conclusions. You want to attack? Do it. I won’t hinder you. You will strike, and you will pay the price.’ I view such situation as the worst case scenario because of what will happen after it, which would have implications in various arenas, and because it will create various problems and deepen the gaps between them and us.”
Bush: Iran with Nukes? Not on my Watch
Dec. 5….(IsraelNN.com) Despite the new intelligence report which said that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons-building program in 2003, President Bush made it clear at a White House press conference Tuesday morning that nothing has changed in the way the US sees Iran. “Iran was dangerous,’’ Bush said. “Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous, if they have the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.’’ Bush asked reporters rhetorically: "If Iran shows up with a nuclear weapon at some point in time, the world is going to say, what happened to them in 2007? How come they couldn't see the impending danger? It's not going to happen on my watch,'' the president said. The findings of the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, President Bush insisted, mean that Iran still poses a threat. “We know that they’re still trying to learn how to enrich uranium,’’ Bush said. “We know that enriching uranium is an important step for a country that wants to develop a weapon." “I view the report as a warning signal,’’ the president said. “The reason it’s a warning signal is, they could restart it.’’ “Nothing has changed in this NIE that says there’s nothing to worry about, quite the contrary,’’ he explained. “Somebody hid their program once. They could hide it again. I see danger, and many in the world see the same danger.'' Asked why this report is more credible than a NIE in 2005 which stated that Iran posed a nuclear threat, Bush said: “Without getting into sources and methods, our intelligence community has made a great discovery.’’ The president added that international pressure had to be applied to Iran to abandon its enrichment of nuclear fuel. He did not rule out any option for the US, saying: “The best diplomacy, effective diplomacy, is one in which all options are on the table.’’ When asked if he faced a credibility gap with Americans over the threat posed by Iraq in 2003 and by Iran today, Bush grew animated. "The NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world. Quite the contrary," he said. "The NIE makes it clear that the strategy we have used in the past is effective."
Dispute over Iran’s Nuclear Program Throws Israel-US relations into Crisis
Dec. 5….(Israel Today) Senior Israel security and intelligence officials report: Washington is refusing to heed the intelligence Israel has gathered on Iran’s covert military nuclear program which refutes its latest estimate, denies Israel access to authentic US intelligence and has embarked on steps detrimental to Israel in relation to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon, without informing its government. Defense minister Ehud Barak challenged the US intelligence estimate on Iran Tuesday, Dec. 4. He said that Iran may have stopped its military program in 2003, but has since apparently restarted it. Prime minister Ehud Olmert, left in the dark by Israel’s senior ally, is at a loss to arrest the serious deterioration in their relations. At pains to conceal the gaping rift with Washington, the prime minister’s office released word of George W, Bush’s coming visit to Jerusalem, his first as president. However, DEBKAfile’s sources disclose Israel will be only one stop Jan. 9 along an extensive Middle East tour, which will take Bush to Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Ramallah, where he intends to make a big deal of proclaiming his support for forthcoming Palestinian statehood. He will also visit Beirut, by which time Gen. Michel Suleiman will be installed as president. Talking to the media Tuesday, the US president ducked the question of whether the new US Intelligence Estimate had changed Washington’s Iran policy. Next month, our sources report, he will have ample opportunity to demonstrate his abrupt, tidal policy reversals when he tours Middle East capitals. DEBKAfile’s Jerusalem sources report Olmert, loath to admit the loss of Israel’s most powerful friend, is under mounting pressure by leading political, intelligence and military officials to stand up and articulate an independent Israeli stance in the light of the Bush administration’s actions, especially in response to the true facts of Iran’s nuclear activities. The rift with Washington is not just political, they say, but touches on critical security issues that affect Israel’s very survival. One immediate proposal is for the establishment of a national emergency government.
Israeli officials and experts stunned by US estimate on Iranian nukes
Israeli officials put on a brave face of continued determination, even as the prospect of potential US action against Iran's nuclear programs receded. The threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons must not be underestimated, was the message government officials sent out on Tuesday, despite the release of a US intelligence "estimate" claiming that Teheran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Grasping at straws, the Israeli official line neglected the fact that the United States, which had led the global charge against an Iran seemingly hell-bent on nuclearization, appeared to be backing away from any willingness to take military action if Iranian resistance to international pressure continued. As many local commentators and columnists noted, that left Israel out in the cold, isolated in its conviction that something must be done urgently to prevent an Iranian bomb. Ehud Barak told Army Radio, "We cannot allow ourselves to rest just because of an intelligence report from the other side of the earth, even if it is from our greatest friend." Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he "doesn't buy" the National Intelligence Estimate findings that Iran had stopped making a nuclear weapon. National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that regardless of the US intelligence report, "Israel must continue to act in every way against the Iranian nuclear threat," adding, "this is exactly one of the issues over which the state of Israel must take no chances."
Iran Claims Victory in US Move to ‘Correct’ (Change) Nuke Status
(US National Intelligence Estimate concludes Tehran shelved work in 2003—Israel Disputes new assessment)
Dec. 4….(MSNBC) Iran’s foreign minister on Tuesday welcomed the US decision to “correct” its claim that Tehran has an active nuclear weapons program, state-run radio reported. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was referring to a US intelligence assessment released Monday that reversed earlier claims that Iran had restarted its weapons program in 2005 after suspending it in 2003. “It’s natural that we welcome that countries correct their views realistically which in the past had questions and ambiguities about Iran’s nuclear activities,” Mottaki said. The new US intelligence report Monday concluded that Iran’s nuclear weapons development program has been halted since the fall of 2003 because of international pressure. The finding is part of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that also cautions that Tehran continues to enrich uranium and still could develop a bomb between 2010 and 2015 if it decided to do so.
Complete turnaround in Intelligence Finding
The conclusion that Iran’s weapons program was still frozen, through at least mid-2007, represents a sharp turnaround from the previous intelligence assessment in 2005. Then, US intelligence agencies believed Tehran was determined to develop a nuclear weapons capability and was continuing its weapons development program. The new report concludes that Iran’s decisions are rational and pragmatic, and that Tehran is more susceptible to diplomatic and financial pressure than previously thought. “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,” says the unclassified summary of the secret report. The findings come 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 Iraq and North Korea. At an Oct. 17 news conference, Bush said, “If you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing Iran from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” Rand Beers, who resigned from Bush’s National Security Council just before the Iraq war, said the report should derail any appetite for war on the administration’s part, and should reinvigorate regional diplomacy. “The new NIE throws cold water on the efforts of those urging military confrontation with Iran,” he said. However, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak said Tuesday that Israeli intelligence believes Iran is still trying to develop a nuclear weapon. “There are differences in the assessments of different organizations in the world about this, and only time will tell who is right,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio. On Monday, senior intelligence officials said they failed to detect Iran’s fall 2003 halt in nuclear weapons development in time to reflect it in the 2005 estimate.
Barak Nixes US Assessment, Says Iran is Working on Bomb
Dec. 4….(IsraelNN.com) Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel's assessment is that Iran did stop work on its nuclear bomb in 2003, just as the United States announced - but that it resumed its efforts sometime afterwards. Barak, a former Israeli Prime Minister, says the US intelligence assessment that Iran has stopped work on its nuclear program is not shared by Israel. "Iran did stop its nuclear program for a time in 2003," Barak told Army Radio on Tuesday morning, "but in our assessment, it resumed its work at a certain point." He would not state when that occurred. Barak said that intelligence assessments "are, by definition, not absolute. The US assessment does not jibe with ours. When I was in Annapolis, and in a previous visit a month before, I met with all the senior Administration officials, and with European intelligence officials, and we discussed this issue. There are various assessments of Iran's nuclear progress, it continues to be in the center of all our discussions, and time will tell which appraisal is correct. Iran's nuclear plans continue to be a serious threat upon both Israel and the entire world."
Iran Laughing at US Lack of Nuclear Intelligence
Dec. 4….(Ha Aretz) The noise that was heard last night in Tehran, according to credible reports, was a hearty Persian laugh after looking at the US intelligence service's website. The unclassified document that Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Mike McConnell published, titled "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," as a laundered version that faithfully represents the greatest secrets collected by the CIA and the other US intelligence services, can appropriately be called "much evaluation on no intelligence." The document's eight pages, which include embarrassing instructions on how to differentiate between different yet related terms ("it is possible," "it may be so," "one must not remove from the equation," and "it's reasonable to assume"), enable the Ayatollas' nuclear and operations officials and the heads of the Revolutionary Guards to reach this soothing conclusion, from their point of view: The Americans have no understanding of what is really happening in Iran's nuclear program. They have no solid information, they have no high-level agents and they have nothing more than a mix of guesswork and chatter. The dissemblance and concealment have succeeded, and the real dispute is not between Washington and Tehran, but within the US administration itself, and the CIA.
Iranian Leaders Cheer US Intelligence reassessment of nuclear arms threat.
Dec. 4….(DEBKA) Iran’s nuclear negotiator, deputy FM Saeed Jalili’s made a quick trip to Moscow Tuesday for talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin, capitalizing on the breakthrough the US has offered Tehran. The shock waves from the US intelligence report that Iran had put its bid for a nuclear bomb on hold in 2003, in contradiction of its 2005 assessment, are already touching other countries as well. President George W. Bush will talk to the media later Tuesday about his radical turnaround on Iran. Only two months ago he spoke of the Iranian nuclear threat in terms of World War III. Striking a welcoming note, FM Manouchehr Mottaki declaed, “The US has lost the nuclear battle to Iran.” In Tehran, ex-president Hashemi Rafsanjani declared enigmatically after Friday worship: “Iran is just a few steps before the end.” According to DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources, he was talking about Iran’s contest with the US over its nuclear program. This would indicate that Tehran had been alerted in advance to the White House’s policy revision on its nuclear activities on the bases of the NIE report. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources confirm that the news which was kept closely secret took political circles by storm when it was released by national security adviser Stephen Hadley and a bevy of senior intelligence officials Monday. Contrary to claims from the Israeli prime minister’s office, Ehud Olmert was not tipped off in advance when he met Bush at the White House last Wednesday. Our sources add that, contrary to the assurances emanating from Jerusalem, the entire sanctions edifice is in danger of toppling, including Washington’s push for a third round of penalties for Iran at the UN Security Council. This push was based on the previous intelligence estimates of Iran’s progress towards nuclear armament in defiance of the international community in the last four years. The White House has now backtracked on those estimates.
Olmert: 'No Alternative to Dividing the Land'
Dec. 4…(JNEWSIRE) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that Israel has no choice but to divide up its ancient homeland for the sake of Middle East peace. Olmert was speaking at a special Knesset session commemorating the 60th anniversary of the United Nations resolution that approved the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Just as the division of mandatory Palestine was “necessary” in 1947, so too is the division of the land essential today. "There is no other alternative," Olmert said. The leader of the opposition Likud Party, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the Palestinian Arabs who instead of wanting two states for two people, in accordance with US President George W. Bush's vision, are determined to get "two states for one people, a Palestinian state, and an Israeli state flooded with Palestinians under what they call the 'right of return' of refugees displaced during the war, along with their descendants." Olmert himself returned a few days ago from Annapolis, Maryland, where he pledged before an international gathering to do everything possible to help secure the creation of a Palestinian state on the biblical heartland of Israel in the coming year. Israel "deserves credit from the world" for accepting the 1947 partitioning of its land, Olmert said perversely. He believes the world will credit Israel too for the "courageous" step he took on behalf of his nation by going to Annapolis last week
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.