WEEK OF JUNE 29 THROUGH JULY 5
The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible
July 4….(David Barton/Wallbuilders)
(FOJ) French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (R) and President Shimon Peres (C) before his speech upon his arrival to Israel at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. Sarkozy proclaimed his friendship for Israel at the start of a three-day visit on Sunday but also said Israeli security depended on the creation of a Palestinian state.
Stop Construction, Deport Jews, Divide Jerusalem
He emphasized, however, that there will never be peace in the Middle East until Israel stops building in Judea and Samaria, and said that the Knesset should pass a law to compensate and deport all the Jews currently living there. Sarkozy further said that Jerusalem must be divided into two capitals, including one for a future Palestinian state. The speech was the first by a French president in the Knesset since Francois Mitterrand addressed the plenum in 1982. In response, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik warned that terror has no boundaries, and that both Iranian nuclear power and Islamist terrorism "will reach Paris after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in his greetings to the French president, said, "We thank you for your courage, for your principles and for your friendship. On behalf of the Israeli people and the State of Israel, I salute you… Israel is now hoping for just one more miracle – the miracle of peace. We believe it will come." Opposition leader and Likud party chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu said, in his address at the session, that Israel would never agree to cede the Golan Heights or divide Jerusalem. Calling Sarkozy a "true friend of Israel," Netanyahu said, nevertheless that "Jerusalem will never be divided, just as no person would ever think of dividing any European state. We will never return to the 1967 borders and we will never withdraw from the Golan Heights."
June 23….(Fox News) Facing strong US pressure and global dismay over oil prices, Saudi Arabia said Sunday it will produce more crude this year if the market needs it. But the vague pledge fell far short of US hopes for a specific increase and may do little to lower prices immediately. For now, the current "oil shock" leaves Western countries with little choice but to move toward nuclear power and change their energy-consumption habits, Britain's prime minister warned at a rare meeting of oil-producing and consuming nations. Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter, called the gathering Sunday to send a message that it, too, is concerned by high oil prices inflicting economic pain worldwide. Instead, the meeting highlighted the sharp disagreement between producers like Saudi Arabia and consuming countries like Britain and the United States over the core factors driving steep price hikes. Oil closed near $135 a barrel on Friday, almost double the price a year ago. The US and other nations argue that oil production has not kept up with increasing demand, especially from China, India and the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries say there is no shortage of oil and instead blame financial speculation and the falling US dollar. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said the kingdom is willing to produce more than the 9.7 million barrels of oil a day it had already planned to produce in July, if the market requires it. But the Saudi oil minister also blamed speculators and asserted supply is not the problem. "In today's environment, I am convinced that supply and demand balances and crude oil production levels are not the primary drivers of the current market situation," al-Naimi said. Officials and energy executives from more than 35 countries thronged a large hall where he spoke. King Abdullah also said Saudi Arabia is not the culprit. The king cited several factors driving "the unjustified, swift rise in oil prices" including "speculators who play the market out of selfish interests," plus higher consumption by developing countries and higher taxes in some countries.
June 23….(Israel Today) The suspected Syrian nuclear facility that Israel bombed last September had in fact been built by Syria with North Korean assistance in order to facilitate Iran's nuclear program, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel. The magazine cited intelligence reports that confirmed the site was a clandestine nuclear reactor, where North Korean engineers were aiding Iran in producing plutonium for use in nuclear weapons. Iran has managed to enrich a significant amount of uranium, but had no experience with plutonium, and could not risk having the North Koreans come to Iran to teach them there. Syria maintains that the site bombed by Israel was a military installation, but not a nuclear facility. The site was quickly razed by Syria following the bombing, further solidifying suspicions and something illegal was taking place there. International Atomic Energy Ageny (IAEA) representatives were scheduled to being investigating the site on Sunday, though it is believed the Syrians have done a thorough job in cleaning up any evidence.
UN atomic experts are set to begin a three-day visit to Syria, to inspect a mysterious site that was bombed by Israel in Sept. 2007
Taking aim at Israeli earlier this month, IAEA Mohammed ElBaradei said that he had reviewed evidence provided to him by Damascus, and had concluded that Syria had neither the technical know-how or the nuclear fuel needed to construct and run a reactor. However, if North Korea was involved, and if the reactor was only a support facility for Iran's nuclear program, that would explain the holes ElBaradai believes he found in the Israeli intelligence.
June 23….(JPOST) A conference highlighting the plight of the Jews who left, or fled, Arab countries will take place in London this week, along with the first ever hearing in Parliament on Jewish refugees from Arab lands. The Jews of Fez, 1900. The first congress of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries will run from Monday to Wednesday in central London, with the parliamentary briefing on Tuesday in the House of Lords. "When the issue of refugees is raised within the context of the Middle East, people invariably refer to Palestinian refugees," Justice for Jews said in a statement. "There is almost no awareness of the fact that 850,000 Jews living in Arab countries were forced out of their homes during the period surrounding Israel's creation." The congress aims to highlight the human rights violations and the individual and communal losses suffered by members of Jewish communities that had lived for centuries in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf and who "were stripped of their jobs, businesses, homes, passports and ancient heritage by most Arab governments," according to the organizers of the two-day conference. The conference's aims include conducting public education programs on the heritage and rights of former Jewish refugees from Arab countries, registering family history narratives, and cataloging communal and individual losses. "Jews are one of the indigenous peoples of the Middle East and there have been ancient Jewish communities in countries such as Iraq for over 2,500 years, more than a millennium before the rise of Islam," organizers said. "Today these historic Jewish communities have been effectively destroyed, with almost no recognition from the international community or the Arab countries themselves. From a Jewish population in the Arab Middle East of 886,000 in the year 1948 in places like Algeria, Morocco and Yemen, now there are less than 8,000 Jews living in Arab countries."
(Democrat says nation also for Muslims and nonbelievers)
June 23….(WND) Some have been taking issue with largely unnoticed comments made last year by Sen. Barack Obama declaring the US is "no longer a Christian nation" but is also a nation of others, including Muslims and nonbelievers. "Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," Obama said during a recent speech. At the speech, Obama also seemingly blasted the "Christian Right" for hijacking religion and using it to divide the nation: "Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together and started being used to drive us apart. It got hijacked. Part of it's because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who've been all too eager to exploit what divides us," he said. Asked last year to clarify his remarks, Obama repeatedthem to the Christian Broadcast Network: "I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism. Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," Obama wrote in an e-mail to CBN News senior national correspondent David Brody. "We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community," wrote Obama. Obama did clarify his statement about the "Christian Right." "My intention was to contrast the heated partisan rhetoric of a distinct minority of Christian leaders with the vast majority of Evangelical Christians, conservatives included, who believe that hate has no place in our politics. "When you have pastors and television pundits who appear to explicitly coordinate with one political party; when you're implying that your fellow Americans are traitors, terrorist sympathizers or akin to the devil himself; then I think you're attempting to hijack the faith of those who follow you for your own personal or political ends," wrote Obama. The Illinois senator's speech declaring the US "no longer Christian" was met with little fanfare. The candidate's Christianity and his former membership in the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ have been much scrutinized. His comment about the "Christian Right" is sure to be controversial.
June 21….(Novosti) The US-proposed European missile shield will eventually spread along Russia's borders and may neutralize Russia's nuclear potential by 2012-2015, a Russian political analyst said on Wednesday. Commenting on reports that the United States and Lithuania were formally discussing deploying elements of the US missile shield in the ex-Soviet Baltic state should Warsaw reject Washington's plans to station 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, Leonid Ivashov, the head of the Moscow-based Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said: "We should expect that elements of a US missile shield will be placed not only in Lithuania, but also in all territories bordering Russia and controlled by NATO." So far, the Czech Republic has agreed to host an early-warning radar on its territory. Poland has taken a tough stance in missile talks with the US, demanding that Washington upgrade its air defense systems in return. Ivashov said the main purpose of the US global missile shield was to neutralize Russia's nuclear potential by 2012-2015 and that NATO eastward expansion was part of this plan. He said Ukraine's and Georgia's possible accession to NATO would have dire consequences for Russia's defense capability. "There is no doubt that elements of the US missile shield will be placed in Georgia and Ukraine immediately after they join NATO," the analyst said, adding that Ukraine already had radars [in Mukachevo and Sevastopol] that may be used against Russia. "The US wants to create an impenetrable shield capable of intercepting and destroying Russian nuclear missiles on launch pads, in the initial trajectory, in orbit and on the final trajectory," he said. Ivashov criticized the Russian leadership for "wasting time in empty rhetoric with the West," rather than taking concrete steps to counter the looming threat. He suggested that Russia should threaten to sever all relations with NATO if the US missile shield is eventually placed in Europe. "Russia must also warn the European countries that...in case of a potential military confrontation...capitals, large cities, industrial and communications centers of the countries hosting elements of the US missile shield will inevitably become the primary targets of Russian nuclear strikes."
June 21….(Jerusalem Post) Iran on Friday warned Israel it would retaliate to an attack with a "strong blow," after the New York Times reported that the IAF had conducted a drill, apparently for a strike against the Islamic republic. "If enemies, especially Israelis and their supporters in the United States, would want to use a language of force, they should rest assured that they will receive a strong blow in the mouth," senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami was quoted by AFP as saying during a Friday prayers sermon, which was also broadcast live on state radio. Khatami stressed that the Iranian nation's mentality was "to fight foreigners." "Given this mentality, if you make a hostile look at the Islamic Iran, you will witness such a united roar by our nation that it will definitely make you regret any vicious move forever," he added. On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "the nuclear issue has ended from our point of view, and we have won the campaign against the West." "Recently they have started a new game, by testing us, but this will result in no achievement for them except humiliation," he said without elaborating.
IAEA Chief ElBaradei: Military strike on Iran's nuke sites would turn region into a 'fireball'
June 21….(DEBKA) The chief of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said in remarks aired on Friday that he would resign if there was a military strike on Iran, warning that any such attack would turn the region into a "fireball". "What I see in Iran today is a current, grave and urgent danger. If a military strike is carried out against Iran at this time, it would make me unable to continue my work," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamad ElBaradei told al-Arabiya television in an interview. Earlier Friday, the New York Times reported that US officials said Israel carried out a large military exercise this month that appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Meanwhile, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack would not comment Friday on whether the United States supports or opposes any future Israeli air strikes against Iran. "We are seeking a peaceful, diplomatic resolution" to the threat the West sees from Iran's nuclear program, McCormack said. "We have made that clear to the Israeli government; we have made that clear to the Iranian government; we have made that clear to anybody who will listen and who asked about it." More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters took part in the maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, reports of the Israeli exercise spurred another oil price surge of 5 percent to $135.92.
June 21….(WND) A federal court has declared a Florida law banning representatives of the Gideons from handing out Bibles within 500 feet of any school in the state unconstitutional because it is vague and actually "encourages arbitrary enforcement." The ruling in a case brought by the Alliance Defense Fund comes from US District Court Judge K. Michael Moore and addresses an incident that developed Jan. 19, 2007, at Key Largo School, run by Principal Annette Martinson. The law actually prohibits anyone without "legitimate business" from being within 500 feet of schools in the state and specifies "each principal or designee of each public or private school in this state shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency to prohibit any person from loitering in the school safety zone who does not have legitimate business in the school safety zone or any other authorization, or license to enter or remain in the school safety zone or does not otherwise have invitee status in the designated safety zone." The issue arose because of a team of Gideons, known for paying all of their own expenses out of pocket while raising all of their own funds and giving away Bibles, had been distributing the Scriptures at Key Largo School. The Gideons' procedure is to notify local police departments two weeks before their distribution date, give school administrators notice and have participants stand on a public bike path or sidewalk and avoid stepping on school grounds. Ernest Simpson and Anthony Mirto had been taken into custody by a sheriff's deputy and charged with trespassing after the principal complained they were handing out Bibles. The initial counts were dismissed at the request of the ADF shortly after the law firm got involved, but then authorities filed a second round of counts, under a different law, this state law that prohibits anyone from being within 500 feet of any school property, including on public sidewalks and streets, without having either "legitimate business" or permission. The lawsuit at hand then was filed on behalf of Gideon Thomas Gray, who was not arrested with Simpson and Mirto but arrived when they called to report trouble with a particular deputy sheriff. The ADF reported the two Gideons who were arrested were "placed in a Monroe County patrol car. A police officer mocked the two men, saying they could 'pray to Jesus all the way to jail.'" The federal judge found that the state definition of a school safety zone, in the Key Largo School location, would include a public bike path and walkway abutting US Highway 1, the highway itself and businesses including a pet motel, a gas station, a restaurant and a plumbing business. "Given the wide range of non-exempt persons and the various types of areas within the school safety zone, such as sidewalks, residential houses and streets, businesses, parking lots, etc., construing 'legitimate purpose' to mean any purpose which is connected with the operation of the school would result in an application so broad that it would likely infringe of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights," the judge said. He ordered the state never again enforce that particular law. "Christians shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. "Arresting or threatening to arrest Christians simply because they choose to exercise their First Amendment rights in a public place is unconstitutional. The court was right in its assessment that the particular law used against these members of the Gideons does not pass constitutional muster." The Gideons, a group founded in the late 1800s, has as its "sole purpose" the goal "to win men, women, boys and girls to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through association for service, personal testimony, and distributing the Bible in the human traffic lanes and streams of everyday life." Gideons have placed the Bible in 181 nations in 82 different languages over the years. The organization focuses on hotels and motels, hospitals and nursing homes, schools, colleges and universities, the military and law enforcement and prisons and jails. "The demand for Scriptures in these areas far exceeds our supplies that we are able to purchase through our donations. Much more could be done, if funds were available. However, we are placing and distributing more than one million copies of the Word of God, at no cost, every seven days in these areas…" the group said. The Gideons serve as an extended missionary arm of the Christian church and are the oldest Christian business and professional men's association in the United States.
(Blames UN for using scare reports, 'mob rule,' to bully through Global agenda)
June 20….(WND) A scientist whose reservations about "global warming" have been officially endorsed by tens of thousands of scientists is accusing the UN of using "mob rule" to generate fear-mongering climate change reports intended to scare national leaders into submitting to its worldwide taxation schemes. "Science has always progressed on the basis of observations, experiments, and thoughts published by individual scientists and sometimes pairs or small groups of scientific coworkers," Art Robinson, a research professor of chemistry and co-founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, said in a recent column in Human Events. Except at the UN, he said. Robinson's concern over the political manipulation of science earlier led him to launch the Petition Project a compilation of more than 31,000 scientists, with more names arriving daily, who have voluntarily signed their names to the following statement: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth." He said the scientific process begins with the results of individuals' work and their distribution of their ideas. "A few of these published articles are especially valuable; a greater number, while not remarkable, provide relative mundane studies that add to the infrastructure of science; many are not useful at all; and some are completely wrong. As individual scientists read these articles, they use their own wisdom, knowledge, and judgment to separate new information that they find valuable from information that they find of no use," Robinson said. Eventually, the good, accurate and valuable information is advanced. Always, scientific progress is a result of a large number of individual decisions that trend in a specific direction," he said. Not so, however, at the United Nations. Especially with the organization's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which has generated many of the claims of catastrophic results of man's use of hydrocarbon fuels, including submerged coastlines and a deadly, massive expansion of African deserts. The IPCC website boasts of sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore Jr. for "efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change." It also notes its goals are to eradicate poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve mothers' health, combat HIV/AIDS, ensure environmental sustainability and others. "The IPCC provides its reports at regular intervals and they immediately become standard works of reference, widely used by policymakers, experts and students," the organization itself says; The IPCC conferences do, in fact, feature "a few hundred" people, including some with formal educations in science, some actively engaged in scientific work, some retired, holding discussions on "the entirely unsolved problem of climate prediction for time periods decades and even centuries in the future," said Robinson, who also publishes the Access to Energy newsletter. In 1973, Robinson co-founded the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine with Linus Pauling. "The primary requirement for selection is a willingness to participate in the United Nations' new 'process' and the agenda behind it," Robinson said. "These people study and discuss the current and past research literature concerning climate and climate prediction. These emanations are closely observed by a very select small group of United Nations operatives." At the end of the meetings, "this small group of observers combines the products of the meeting into a large important-looking report, carefully editing the report so that it supports United Nations political objectives," Robinson said. "At no time is this report submitted to the 600-plus 'scientists.'" The results then are distributed as "settled science," he said, "regardless of the fact that the scientists involved do not agree upon the text. The elite few who oversaw the meeting and interpreted its results are special. They are the UN's anointed messengers of the truth." A spokeswoman for the United Nation's Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon declined to respond to WND questions about the process, referring those questions to the IPCC office in Geneva. There a spokeswoman confirmed for WND the process that has a small number of specially appointed UN operatives write reports following "scientific" meetings. But Robinson said the UN operatives have fallen victim to "a peculiar and dangerous virus" infecting American public discourse. Victims of that disease, which robs words of their meaning, also believe that "democracy" means "republic," "gambling" becomes "investment" and "vice" becomes the "virtue of diversity," Robinson said. Also, "science" has become devalued. "And nowhere is it more abused than in the United Nations, where institutionalized mob rule is called 'science,'" he said. "In its headlong drive to gain the power to tax and ration world energy (and thereby control world technology, sharing taxation authority with other governments in return for their support) the United Nations has created a 'process,' which it calls 'science,'" he said. In real science, however, "truths are never determined through such meetings; unsolved scientific questions are never resolved by such meetings; and scientific articles are never published unless every putative or listed author has personally approved every word of the publication," Robinson said. "Scientific truth is never decided by meetings organized to decide which ideas are true and which are false. "If the mob rule process of the United Nations worked, many great unsolved scientific questions could be quickly solved. United Nations observers could attend scientific meetings of cancer scientists and determined the causes and cures of cancer. With the 'science settled,' this scourge could be eliminated. Likewise Alzheimer's disease, human aging, the origin of the universe, and other great unsolved problems could be solved," Robinson wrote. "In the present case in which United Nations apparatchiks have proclaimed that human activity is catastrophically warming the planet, the human cost of error is so great than many other scientists have become motivated to individually examine the evidence. Now, a total of more than 9,000 Americans with Ph.D.s in science and therefore professional educational credentials that, on average, equal or surpass the United Nations 600, and a total of more than 31,000 Americans with at least BS degrees in science have signed a petition to the U.S. government specifically rejecting the United Nations claim that human use of hydrocarbon energy is injuring the climate," Robinson said. "In fact, the 31,000 scientists state that carbon dioxide released by energy production is actually beneficial to the environment," he said. "It is time to kill this counterproductive virus that has sickened American science and engineering, and get on with the job of expanding the American hydrocarbon and nuclear energy industries. To do less poses a terrible risk to America's prosperity and to her future," he said. A surge of names was submitted to Robinson's petition project following the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" by Gore. The film was widely distributed and preached about the "settled science" of UN global warming prognosticators, Robinson said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Gore's movie contains many very serious incorrect claims which no informed, honest scientist could endorse," Robinson said at the time.
Israel carries out large-scale rehearsal over Greece of possible air strike against Iran
June 20….(DEBKA) US Pentagon sources report that more than 100 Air Force F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in the first week of June. The maneuver included helicopters used for rescuing downed pilots and refueling tankers. They flew 1,440 km, roughly the distance between Israel and the Iranian uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Israel officials declined to comment on the exercise, the IDF saying only that the air force trains regularly for various missions in order to meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel. But the US sources said the scope of the Israeli exercise guaranteed it would be noticed by American and other foreign intelligence agencies, primarily to send a signal to the US, Europe and Iran that Israel was prepared and able to act militarily if diplomatic efforts failed to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons advances. One Pentagon official said: “They rehearse it, rehearse it and rehearse it, so that if they actually have to do it, they’re ready. They’re not taking any options off the table.” DEBKAfile’s military sources add that only on Tuesday, June 17, the chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazy commented to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee: "Beside the actions and sanctions against Iran, it is important we remain ready for any options." Those sources interpreted the Ashkenazy’s typically understated remark as a hint that Israel must be ready for a possible war with Iran in the near future. This conflict could erupt on three additional fronts, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas. Those sources suggest that the scenario he hinted at would silence the many domestic critics of the ceasefire with Hamas and the Israeli military’s passivity in the face of Hizballah’s massive rocket buildup and Hamas’ escalating aggression. Of interest too is the probable motive behind the US defense department’s leak to the world media of the Israel Air Force maneuver and its presentation as an exercise to simulate an attack on Iran. According to DEBKAfile’s informants, US defense secretary Robert Gates is adamantly opposed to American military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities and even more so to Israel going it alone, which this publicity was intended to pre-empt.
June 20….(AP) Russia's foreign minister on Friday warned against the use of force on Iran, saying there is no proof it is trying to build nuclear weapons. Sergey Lavrov said Iran should be engaged in dialogue and encouraged to cooperate with the UN nuclear monitoring agency. Lavrov made the statement when asked to comment on an Israeli Cabinet member's statement earlier this month that Israel could attack Iran if it does not halt its nuclear program. "I hope the actual actions would be based on international law," Lavrov said. "And international law clearly protects Iran's and anyone else's territorial integrity." Israel's military refused to confirm or deny a report Friday that its warplanes staged a major rehearsal this month for a possible attack on Iran. The New York Times report quoted US officials as saying more than 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged the maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in the first week of June. It said the aircraft flew more than 900 miles (1,450 kilometers), roughly the distance from Israel to Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, and that the exercise included refueling tankers and helicopters capable of rescuing downed pilots. Lavrov said Russia had asked both the United States and Israel to provide factual information to back their claims that Iran was working to build atomic weapons. "So far we have seen none, and the same conclusion was made by the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said. "It's absolutely not right to speak matter-of-factly that Iran continues building nuclear weapons," Lavrov added. Iran insists its enrichment program is meant only to generate electricity. But because of its past clandestine activities, including some that could have applications for weapons research, the international community is concerned that Tehran wants to enrich uranium to a purity suitable for use in atomic bombs. The IAEA suggested in a report to the UN Security Council last month that Iran was stonewalling investigators and possibly withholding information crucial to determining whether it conducted research on nuclear weapons. Lavrov insisted that Iran must be encouraged to continue its cooperation with the UN monitoring agency. "As long as the IAEA reports to us progress in its relations with Iran, as long as Iran closes the issues which were of concern to the IAEA and this process continues, we should avoid any steps which could undermine this very important process," he said, speaking in English. Russia has maintained close ties with Iran and is building its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr, which is expected to go on line later this year. It has backed limited UN sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program, but has opposed the US push for harsher measures. "The key to resolving the Iranian issue is involvement," Lavrov said. "We must involve Iran, engage Iran in resolving the Iranian nuclear program, but also engage Iran in constructive, respectful, serious dialogue on Iraq and Afghanistan, on the Middle East in general."
June 20….(Fox News) American military officials say Israel launched a major military exercise aimed in part at demonstrating its ability to stage an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. The military refuses to confirm or deny whether the exercise was a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack. But two officials said Israel sent dozens of aircraft on the large-scale mission in the eastern Mediterranean in early June. One defense official said the exercise could be taken as a demonstration to Iran and the international community that Israel is serious about the need to challenge the country's nuclear program, and could be prepared to do so militarily. The New York Times first reported Friday that more than 100 Israeli fighter jets took part in the maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean and. Citing undisclosed American officials, it said the exercise appeared to be an effort to focus on long-range strikes. The aircraft used in the drill flew a distance of about 900 miles, similar to the distance between Israel and uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz, the officials said. "They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know," the Pentagon official said to the Times. "There's a lot of signaling going on at different levels." US officials, however, did not believe Israel had decided to attack Iran or think such a strike was imminent. The newspaper said Israeli officials would not discuss the apparent rehearsal, but a spokesman said that the military "regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel." Israeli military analyst Martin Van Creveld of Hebrew University said military preparations for a possible attack are indeed under way. "Israel has been talking about this possibility for a long time, that it would not take an Iranian nuclear weapon lying down. And it has been practicing the operation or operations for a long time," he said. But though an Israeli strike would likely be able to "paralyze the most important Iranian nuclear installations," it probably won't be able to destroy the program entirely, Van Creveld said. "I would be very surprised if Israel can really knock out every part of this program, which by all accounts appears to be large and well concealed and well dispersed," he said. spokesman Mark Regev offered no comment beyond the military's statement. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said he prefers that Iran's nuclear ambitions be halted by diplomatic means, but has pointedly declined to rule out military action. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published on Wednesday, Olmert said the current international sanctions against Iran would probably not succeed alone, saying there were "many things that can be done economically, politically, diplomatically and militarily." Asked if Israel was capable of taking military action against Iran, Olmert said, "Israel always has to be in a position to defend itself against any adversary and against any threat of any kind." Russia's foreign minister is warning against the use of force on Iran, saying there is no proof it is trying to build nuclear weapons with the program Tehran said is for generating power. There are precedents for unilateral Israeli action in such cases. In 1981, Israeli jets bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility to end dictator Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. And last September Israel bombed a facility in Syria that US officials have said was a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korean assistance. A US intelligence report released late last year concluded that Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program, but Israeli intelligence believes that assessment is incorrect and that work is continuing.
(Iran's leaders celebrate Gaza truce as a victory)
June 20….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that Iran’s top leaders held a special meeting in Tehran Thursday, June 19, hours after the Gaza ceasefire went into force. They congratulated themselves for achieving their second base on a Mediterranean shore after winning control of Lebanon through Hizballah’s takeover of Beirut and its government. Hamas was acclaimed for having tightened its grip on the Gaza Strip and using the Egyptian-brokered six-month truce accord with Israel for its next leap to power on the West Bank. Iran has tightened its noose around Israel as well as Egypt. The meeting, our sources report, was attended by supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, defense minister Mostafa Najar, Revolutionary Guards commander Gen. Qassam Solemeini, and the Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, the supreme ruler’s senior strategic adviser. Iran’s ambassador in Damascus, Ahmed Moussawi, was called home for urgent consultations after he tossed out his bombshell offer to share Iran’s “nuclear experience” with Syria Tuesday, June 17. The nuclear transfer will begin as soon as July 7 when officials of the two countries hold their first meeting. DEBKAfile’s sources report that the three-hour long, top-level Iranian conference went on to discuss Tehran’s next steps in the region in the light of deepening ties with the Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal and the Israeli chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi’s comment Tuesday to the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee. Ashkenazi said: "Beside the actions and sanctions against Iran, it is important we remain ready for any options." Iran regards his words as a clear threat that an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities is close at hand.
(Exxon and Total expected to be among firms returning after 36-year gap)
June 19….(MSN) Four Western oil companies are close to signing oil contracts with the Iraqi government that will return them to the country for the first time in 36 years, the New York Times reported on Thursday. Exxon Mobil, BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell and Total, which had partnerships with the Iraq Petroleum Co. before the industry was nationalized by Saddam Hussein, as well as Chevron and a number of smaller oil producers, have been in talks with the oil ministry, it said. The deals are expected to be announced on June 30 and will be awarded on a no-bid basis. They will be an extension of current agreements in which the companies are providing free advice and training to the Iraqis. A total of 46 companies, including those from China, India and Russia have memorandums of understanding to provide that assistance to Iraq but were not awarded contracts. The deals for the four companies will be service contracts, in which they are paid for their work rather than offered a license for Iraq's oil deposits.
June 19….(IsraelNN.com) If Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were running for President of the United States, he "would promise to support Israel and guarantee its security, and would move the United States embassy to Jerusalem," wrote Abdul Rahman Al Rashed, General Manager of the Al Arabiya news network. He stated that Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama's enthusiastic support for Israel is standard operating procedure for every American candidate. "Even the Israelis cannot believe the promises," wrote Al Rashed. Writing in the London-based A-sharq Al-Awsat, newspaper on Tuesday under the headline "Is Obama a Political Fraud," he noted that Labor Knesset Member Ofir Pines-Paz said of Senator Obama, "I respect him but suspect him." Al Rashed reminded readers that every American president must commit himself to Israel's security because Israel was the most loyal Middle East country to the U.S. during the Cold war with the Soviet Union. "The United States considers Israel as its big stick, which it uses when needed, a service that none of the friendly Arab countries can do," he wrote. "The price is relatively inexpensive because the United States spent funds in Iraq in five years, to no avail, more than it has spent on Israel in 60 years. This viewpoint does not seem clear to Arabs. The United States considers Israel as its big stick. He concluded with a parting shot for Arabs, who he said do not understand that Senator Obama had to state support for Israel in order to bolster his chances of becoming the next president. Al Rashed maintained that the candidate was not worried about satisfying Arabs. The writer explained, "What for? The Arabs themselves are unable to satisfy one another, and are ashamed to sit at the negotiating table with Israel if not in secret."
June 19….(DEBKA) The offer came from Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Sayyed Ahmed Moussavi, who stressed in an interview that to boost Iranian-Syrian relations Iran will pass on its “experiences with nuclear power” to Syria. He cited July 7 as the date for their officials to meet. DEBKAfile’s military sources say Iran’s willingness to defy its obligations under the non-proliferation treaty by offering a nuclear capability to Syria across the border from Israel brings Tehran’s threat to wipe Israel off the map much closer to home. It is a mark of contempt for Washington and the US-led Western sanctions which failed to halt Iran’s uranium enrichment and nuclear missile warhead projects. DEBKAfile’s military sources describe this as an extremely menacing security development for Israel and a painful body blow for America’s policies and standing. The menace posed to Israel by Iran’s nuclear weapons project and its leaders’ threats has increased manifold. Tehran’s offer would integrate Israel’s hostile neighbor in its uranium enrichment and nuclear missile warhead projects. Moussavi said: As part of boosting our bilateral relations, Iran will pass on its experiences with nuclear power to Syria. “Islam has taught us to pass on our knowledge and we can pass our experience to Syria if it wants it,” he said. Our Middle East sources report that Syrian president Bashar Assad was forewarned of the ambassador’s earthshaking statement before he set off Tuesday for a five-day visit to India. They attribute Iran’s nuclear generosity to two causes:
1. The weekend discussions between Presidents George W. Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on ways of detaching Assad from his ties with Tehran.
2. Syria’s indirect peace talks with Israel via Turkey and he prospect of Israeli concessions. Seeing what was going on, Tehran decided enough was enough and it was time to tighten the leash on the Syrian president in case he was tempted to start thinking about quitting the Iranian orbit.
June 19….(WND) When you think of China, inexpensive and inferior goods might come to mind. But that's hardly the case with the Chinese body armor found on Iraqi insurgents. It is superior to anything available to US troops and resists penetration from M16s, M4s, M80s, M60s and M240 machine guns. In fact, say US military sources, the only thing it won't defeat is a direct shot from a .50 caliber. The Chinese-supplied body armor also will resist multiple hits, something the US military-grade protective vests won't do. Analysis of the plates does reveal some manufacturing defects. Some tiles are misaligned. However, before those flaws can be exploited, they are likely to be fixed. The captured body armor is from 2006 or earlier. In what could be a related development, the Iranians have made a knockoff of the Steyr HS50 .50-caliber "anti-material" rifle, a .50 caliber sniper rifle. China is now supplying these to Muqtada al-Sadr's al-Mahdi army. The US military is aware of at least three .50-caliber attacks since April, two on up-armored vehicles. In those cases, the shots penetrated the vehicle and armor, the analysis pictures showed a gaping hole in the back of a Kevlar helmet. It is not clear whether the weapon was produced in Iran or with the help of China or some other manufacturer. Chinese military supplies are thought to be entering Iraq through Iran, with whom Beijing maintains good relations. But, according to Bill Gertz's book, "Treachery: How America's Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies," China long has provided at least some military support to al-Qaida and the Taliban, as well as Shiite militia forces.
US to Guarantee Israel's Capital to Palestinians?
(Rice pledges to 'seriously' study proposal to cede east Jerusalem neighborhoods)
June 18….(WND) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday pledged to study a Palestinian proposal for the US to guarantee eastern sections of Jerusalem will become part of a future Palestinian state, WND has learned. "[Rice] was in total solidarity with us on the issue of stopping Israeli building in (eastern) Jerusalem," a senior Palestinian Authority official who met with Rice yesterday told WND. The official said Rice promised to "seriously" look into the offering of a formal US letter guaranteeing that new Israeli construction in eastern Jerusalem would be disregarded and that the areas of construction would be included in the final borders of a Palestinian state. While Rice met with Israeli and Palestinian officials, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski announced yesterday the approval of 40,000 new residential units in various Jewish neighborhoods, including about 1,300 new units in eastern Jerusalem. Israel recaptured eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians have claimed eastern Jerusalem as a future capital; the area has large Arab neighborhoods, a significant Jewish population and sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. About 231,000 Arabs live in Jerusalem, mostly in eastern neighborhoods. Many reside in illegally constructed complexes on property owned by the Jewish National Fund, a Jewish nonprofit that purchases land for the purported goal of Jewish settlement. Jerusalem has an estimated total population of 724,000. Rice yesterday strongly lashed out against the new Israeli construction projects planned for eastern Jerusalem. "We should be in a position of encouraging confidence, not undermining it. No party should be taking steps at this point that could prejudice the outcome of the negotiation," Rice said following meetings with Palestinian officials. She said Israeli construction in eastern Jerusalem is having a "negative effect." Speaking later to US reporters in Jerusalem, Rice pointed to Israeli construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as a "problem." "I think the key is to work with the Israelis and make clear to the Israelis that this is a problem," she said. "The problem is that since Annapolis, there has been a certain level of activity that raises questions, and they need to address that." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev, though, said Israel has the right to build anywhere in its capital city. "It is clear that the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem will remain part of Israel," he said. "It is not realistic that we freeze the lives of people in Jerusalem." As a sign of planned future Palestinian control over eastern sections of the city, Israel allowed the PA to hold an official meeting in Jerusalem to discuss dealing with expected Palestinian sovereignty over key sections of the city
Terrorists 'Actively' Seeking Nukes
June 18….(Newsmax) Extremist groups continue to actively seek nuclear weapons, a senior US official said Tuesday during a meeting in Spain of a US-Russian initiative to fight nuclear terrorism. "Combating nuclear terrorism is especially important today," US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Rood told a news conference. "Regretably we continue to see indications in the United States from information we collect of the very terrorist groups we are most concerned about making concerted efforts to acquire nuclear capabilities with the express intent to use them against our peoples," he added. Over 200 delegates from 56 nations, as well as the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency, are taking part in the three-day gathering which got underway in Madrid on Monday. The meeting is the fourth of its kind since the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism was founded in 2006 by US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin to reinforce control of nuclear facilities and materials in order to prevent such groups from accessing them. It was formed amid heightened global concern over nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. The closed-door gathering in Madrid is aimed at "developing and consolidating an international work plan of a technical nature to improve the fight against nuclear terrorism," Spain's foreign ministry said in a statement. The world's five leading nuclear powers,the United States, Russia, China, Britian and France, form the core of the initiative which now includes 73 member states.
The Power That Drives Ahmadinejad?
June 17….(YNET) Shiite Iran is striving to attain the position of regional superpower en route to becoming a significant nuclear power on the international stage. Iran openly challenges the West in its attempt to eject the Americans and British from Iraq and attain hegemony in the Persian Gulf region, supported among other, by its military program, massively built up in recent years. The Iranian leadership talks of a “New Middle East” in response to the West, which would be an Islamic Middle East in the mold of the Iranian inspired Islamic revolution. Iran's political aspirations are driven by a deep religious zeal. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly pledges "the imminent and evident liquidation of Israel," as a code word for the messianic fervor he shares with his spiritual mentor, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, one of the more radical ayatollahs, who subscribes to diplomatic and military activism to advance the global Islamic revolution spearheaded by Iran. Former President Khatami, an Iranian reformist, once referred to Yazdi as "the theoretician of violence." In 2006, Yazdi's leading disciple, Mohsen Gharavian, released a ruling or fatwa sanctioning the use of nuclear weapons against other nations. This is in distinction to Iranian diplomats in the West who repeatedly say that nuclear weapons are opposed by Islam and thus will not be sought. In language reminiscent of Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Ahmadinejad's mentor also ruled that "If anyone insults the Islamic sanctity, Islam has permitted for his blood to be spilled, with no legal proceedings necessary." Addressing senior religious scholars in mid November 2005, Ahmadinejad did not attempt to hold back his true motives and intentions. Our basic goal, he noted, is to set the stage for the Mahdi, the Shiite messiah, or the “vanished Imam.” He went on to state that in order to bring this about, Iran must set an Islamic example, develop a strong society and forge government policy in various fields, endeavoring to realize the goal of the end of time vision whereupon the Mahdi will appear. As mayor of Tehran, for example, Mr. Ahmadinejad appears to have in 2004 secretly instructed the city council to build a grand avenue to prepare for the Mahdi. A year later, as president, he allocated $17 million for a blue-tiled mosque closely associated with mahdaviat in Jamkaran, south of the capital in the city of Qum. He has also instigated the building of a direct Tehran-Jamkaran railroad line. Such is the religious fervor associated with the mosque, every Tuesday night, the predicted evening of the Mahdi's arrival, thousands of Iranians gather at the shrine of Jamkaran. They write wishes on pieces of paper and throw them in a well where the imam is supposed to have appeared. Ahmadinejad had a list of his proposed cabinet members dropped into a well adjacent to the Jamkaran Mosque, it is said, to benefit from its purported divine connection. Most worryingly, Ahmadinejad openly espouses the belief that his rule is the harbinger of the Mahdi. In a speech at the UN in 2006 in the presence of many world leaders, Ahmadinejad closed his speech with a prayer: "O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace." What drives Ahmadinejad? A book published In Lebanon last year focuses on Ahmadinejad's Shiite vision of the Mahdi, titled "Ahmadinejad and the next global revolution." The author, Shadi Fakiya, establishes a direct linkage between Ahmadinejad and the Mahdi. Fakiya claims that the current Iranian president fits the description of the commander of the Mahdi forces which liberated Jerusalem according to Shiite belief. Ahmadinejad is depicted as being determined and guided directly by Allah, and believing that the "army of the liberation of Jerusalem" will pass through Iraq, similar to Ayatollah Khomeini, who claimed that "the road to Jerusalem passes through Karbala" (a holy Shiite town in Iraq.) Ahmadinejad's determination to acquire nuclear weapons is also construed as being part of the signs of messianic redemption, as he and his associates view the showdown with the international community to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear technology as one of the ways to prepare the ground for the appearance of the Mahdi.
(Bashar Assad playing hard ball)
June 17….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s sources reveal that prime minister Ehud Olmert told US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice when they met in Jerusalem Sunday, June 15, that he was willing to evacuate Israeli troops and hand this strategic enclave on the Hermon slopes to United Nations custody as early as July. He has not brought the issue either before the full government or the security cabinet. Defense minister Ehud Barak and the IDF high command are against this step, just one more topic at sharp issue between Olmert and Barak. Rice took the news to Beirut Monday at the end of her talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. She informed Lebanese president Michel Sleiman and prime minister-designate Fouad Siniora: “The United States hopes for an early settlement to the Shebaa Farms issue.” Israel’s withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms would expose its vital military positions on the northwestern slopes of Hermon to the Syrian 10th and 14th Divisions, elements of which are deployed in Lebanon close to the three-way border junction. Israeli military sources warn that handing it to the UN, namely the South Lebanese peacekeeping force, will extend the force’s lackadaisical control over South Lebanon to this strategic sector as well, granting Hizballah freedom of action in a fresh arena. Our Middle East sources disclose that the Shebaa Farms tactic was initiated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy; and he sold it to President George W. Bush when they met in Paris Saturday.
Sarkozy’s plan consists of five steps:
1. In the first week of July, Israel will announce it is ready to cede the enclave. The United States will then join France and Israel in issuing a statement indicating that Israel’s willingness to evacuate the Shebaa Farms is part of an evolving understanding intended to lead to its withdrawal from the Golan.
2. But first, two French emissaries, the president’s diplomatic adviser Jean-David Levit and his chef de bureau Claude Gueant, traveled to Damascus Sunday, June 15. They presented Israel’s offer to the Syrian president Bashar Assad as the first fruit of the indirect Syrian-Israeli peace talks mediated by Turkey. The link between the Turkish and French initiatives surfaced Monday when Olmert’s two representatives to these talks flew to Paris from Istanbul to brief the president’s office on the just-ended session and plot the next moves.
3. Paris is keen on some sort of climax for the opening of the Conference of Mediterranean States in Paris on July 13. Sarkozy views the event as the crowning diplomatic achievement of his first year at the Elysee. He has invited Assad as his guest of honor at the Bastille Day parade the next day.
4. Sarkozy hopes that the signal honor he has conferred on Assad plus the Israeli concession will bring him and Olmert under the same roof for the conference opening. A brief encounter might even develop.
5. But Assad is playing hard ball. He was noncommittal on the Mediterranean conference much less a meeting with Olmert. He says Israel’s promise to withdraw from the Shebaa Farms is not enough. He wants a fixed date in July or early August at latest before taking up Sarkozy’s invitation to the conference. The 12-square mile Shebaa Farms enclave lies just north of the Golan on the northwestern slope of the strategic Hermon range. It was captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967 from Syria as part of the Golan and as such was later recognized by the UN. Syria later said the Shebaa Farms were part of Lebanon, in order to provide the Lebanese Hizballah with a pretext to carry on attacking Israel and refusing to obey UN Security Council resolutions demanding the dismantling of its armed militia.
(FOJ) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah and lambasts Israel for building in Jerusalem.
June 16….(By Stan Goodenough) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel Sunday ready to rebuke Israel for approving construction of 1,300 housing units in its capital city. During her flight to the Middle East late Saturday, Rice told reporters, "We've said before that this is a time to try and build confidence, and this [government decision to build homes for Jews in Jerusalem] is simply not helpful to building confidence." United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came to Jerusalem Sunday to tell Israel's government it needs to stop construction in its ancient capital because it makes the Arabs angry. "Ongoing Israeli construction in areas the Palestinians want for their future state 'has the potential to harm the negotiations,'" Rice said according to The Jerusalem Post. In a meeting with her Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Rice said she is "very concerned that at a time when we need to build confidence between the parties, the continued building and the settlement activity has the potential to harm the negotiations going forward." The Post said Rice "appeared more exasperated with the Israeli construction than she has in the past." "Look, it's a problem, and it's a problem that we're going to address with the Israelis. "This is obviously a road map obligation that is not being met," she reportedly told journalists on her plane. Both Rice and Livni were dressed in black as they stood in front of the press before going into their meeting. It is Rice's sixth visit to Israel this year - pushing up her drop-in average to once-a-month, after making 11 stops in the previous year-and-a-half. The Bush administration is understood to be increasingly desperate to secure some sort of Israeli-"Palestinian" agreement before the end of its term next January. Creating a Palestinian state in the heart of the Jews' historical homeland is the ultimate aim of the US-sponsored "peace" process. The Islamic-Arab world insists that Jerusalem, with its holiest parts, be the capital of that state. Apart from the Jews, no other nation has ever had Jerusalem as its capital, and there has never been a State of Palestine. According to the Jewish-Christian Bible, Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people as the capital of their exclusive homeland, which includes all the territory the international community accuses Israel of "occupying" and wishes to see turned into a Palestinian state. Since being miraculously restored to Jewish sovereignty in 1961, after more than 2000 years of gentile control, Jerusalem has been modernized, massively expanded and beautified. Psalm 102 states: Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in his glory.
June 16….(AP) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put an American stamp of approval Monday on plans for a new government in Lebanon that would increase the power of Hezbollah militants. Rice made an unannounced visit to Lebanon's capital to meet with Western-backed leaders of an emerging coalition government, which the country's factions are still negotiating over. The US regards Iranian-and Syrian-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist group and has no dealings with it. "Congratulations," Rice said as she shook hands with Michel Suleiman, the army chief elected last month as president. "We are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government." She introduced members of the US delegation to him as they sat down for their meeting at the presidential palace. On the flight from Israel, Rice told reporters her message would be one of US support for Lebanese democracy and that they would discuss "how the United States can support the institutions of a free Lebanon." Hezbollah, which is both a militia and a political party, gained veto power over the Beirut government in a compromise brokered last month. The deal ended 18 months of political paralysis, and followed bloody street clashes. The US would have preferred that Hezbollah not gain greater power, but has called the deal a necessary step for stability. The breakthrough deal, reached with the help of Arab mediators, allowed Lebanon's parliament to elect a new president. Suleiman's election brought palpable relief to Lebanese who feared their country was in danger of another civil war. It also ushered in a shift in the balance of power in favor of Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Rice's visit came as US-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora was facing difficulties in forming a national unity government. For nearly three weeks, Saniora has been trying, so far without success, to form a Cabinet lineup acceptable to both the Western-backed parliamentary majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition. Hezbollah's ascendancy is a setback for the US, which had strongly backed the Lebanese government for three years and is concerned that Iran's influence is spreading in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the US welcomed the developments in Lebanon and its diplomats and visiting congressmen attended Suleiman's election. Asked by reporters why the power-sharing agreement was not a defeat for the United States, Rice said that while it's true that Hezbollah has gained political clout, it is also true that democratic figures endured. "Obviously in any compromise there are compromises," she said. "But this was an agreement that I think served the interests of the Lebanese people. And since it served the interests of the Lebanese people, it serves the interests of the United States. We support the democratically elected government of Lebanon," she said
(Al-Hayat quotes Lebanese sources as saying Washington may pressure Israel to pull out of disputed area it captured by Israel during Six Day War)
June 16….(YNET) Lebanese officials reported of a significant turnaround in the United State's position regarding the Shebaa Farms and said that the Bush administration is now in favor of Israel’s withdrawal from the eight square mile disputed area in the Golan Heights in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat said Monday. Sources in Lebanon were quoted by Al-Hayat as saying that Israel's possible withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms area, which was captured by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967, was one of the focal points during the recent meetings US President George W. Bush held with German, Italian, British and French leaders while touring Europe. The sources said Washington was more understanding of Lebanon's position on the issue, which is supported by the Arab League, the European Union and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, and did not rule out the possibility that the US would press Israel to withdraw from the Shebaa Farms. Al-Hayat quoted other Lebanese officials as saying that they were pleased with the recent diplomatic developments on the issue, which, according to them, indicated the possibility that the disputed region would be transferred to the supervision of UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon. Recent reports said that British Foreign Minister David Miliband and French President Nicolas Sarkozy estimated that the Shebaa Farms dispute would soon be resolved. Last week the Lebanese government issued a statement saying it would not negotiate with Israel until the Jewish state withdraws from the Shebaa Farms.
June 16….(Israel Today) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Beirut on Monday in support of a new coalition government deal that has brought stability to the country following a difficult 18-month period. The only problem is that the new government is almost entirely beholden to the Iranian-backed Hizballah terrorist militia. The coalition deal brokered in Doha, Qatar last month that brought an end to 18 months of political instability grants Hizballah, which is one of the leading parliamentary opposition factions, veto power over any and all government decisions. It also paved the way for the election of former army chief Michel Suleiman, a Hizballah ally, as Lebanon's president. Brushing aside Suleiman's Hizballah ties, the Associated Press quoted Rice as telling the new Lebanese president "we are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government." Hizballah forced the government to accept its coalition conditions after military seizing control of most of Beirut in a mini-military coup last month. Suleiman's forces stood by and refused to intervene as Hizballah gunmen imposed curfews and blockaded Beirut's international airport. The Doha agreement is seen in the region as a major victory for Hizballah and its Iranian sponsors.
June 16….(DEBKA) Some Western military and intelligence were shocked to learn that Iran had the blueprints for making a nuclear warhead that could fit onto its Shehab-3 missiles. The discovery was released by the former UN weapons inspector, David Albright, Sunday, June 16, ahead of the report on his investigation of the nuclear smuggling ring run by the father of the Pakistan nuclear bomb Abdul Qadeer Khan. He alleged that the nuclear blueprints passed to Libya, Iran and North Korea included “previously undisclosed designs for a compact warhead that could fit on Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles.” On May 22, Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, disclosed that, last December, the destruction had been ordered of a batch of 30,000 documents detailing construction plans for nuclear weapons, gas ultra-centrifuges to enrich weapons-grade uranium and guided missile delivery systems, evidence in a criminal case of a Swiss family of three engineers involved in the Khan ring. These nuclear blueprints were sold in underhand deals to those countries, and possibly also to al Qaeda, in the second half of the 1990s. Tehran has therefore had those designs for between 10 and 13 years. This discovery makes nonsense of the supposedly definitive judgment in Western and Israel intelligence that Iran lacks the technology for building a nuclear missile delivery system. Because of these estimates, Western governments have been able to keep their sanctions-cum-diplomatic track with Iran rolling as though tomorrow would never come. It is now evident that not only North Korea and Iran have known for some time how to build and deliver a nuclear warhead, but unknown recipients of AQ Khan’s merchandise, including terrorist organizations, may also command hazardous nuclear knowledge. The three Swiss engineers, members of the Tinner family, are the father, Friedrich, whose ties with Khan went back decades, and his sons, Urs and Marco. The Khan ring set up marketing headquarters in Dubai and Malaysia. The brothers have awaited trial for four years in a Swiss jail. Their father is out on bail and confined to Switzerland. The evidence against Urs Tinner, the hard disk he stole containing the incriminating nuclear documents, has now been destroyed by the Swiss authorities under the supervision of the UN nuclear watchdog. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military experts reported on May 30: If Urs Tinner, a small cog in the Khan network, was able to steal a hard drive containing a mass of the network’s nuclear secrets, three conclusions are inescapable:
1. That Khan did not retain an efficient security system for the data he was selling. Therefore, his system was full of holes and his confederates and agents, whether employed on the technical or marketing side of the business, were able to help themselves to documents, diagrams and other illicit nuclear materials that were put on sale and, perhaps, go into business on their own.
2. It is an open secret among the American and Western intelligence services involved in uncovering the Khan ring that large sections are still going strong out in Pakistan, the Far East and the Middle East through channels still unexposed. They are bound to assume that the documents destroyed by the Swiss government may exist in copies still in circulation.
3. Some of their holders may have hung onto them for the last four or five years and then destroyed them when the Khan ring was exposed, for fear of being linked to the trafficker. On the other hand, it is possible that some of A. Q. Khan’s agents and accomplices sold his nuclear plans and secrets to terrorists linked to al Qaeda.
June 16….(Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) The Islamic nations represented in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, are at a prophetic crossroads. The powerful Saudi Arabian King has said his country will increase oil production and has called an emergency meeting of OPEC nations to discuss oil prices. King Abdullah is about to play a very strategic card in claiming the world for Islam. Islamic nations have run up oil prices to the point of causing food riots across the world. Now Islam is at the brink of whether it throws the world into complete anarchy without the military forces to subdue it, or whether it exercises patience for a more appropriate time to launch a takeover. Abdullah claims that market factors other than speculation are not the cause of the oil price run up. He says that there is enough supply in the market. But oil prices have brought the entire world to the breaking point. People are facing famine and starvation, runaway inflation, and economic recession because of oil prices. The Islamists have reaped huge windfall profits that have enabled them to buy heavily into the financial trade, securing large stakes in global banking and credit institutions. Islam has caused the world's breadbasket, America, to divert its reliable production of foodstuffs into products that feed petroleum demand rather than people. Islam's artificial price run up in oil has outpaced its strategic ability to quickly colonize, radicalize, and subdue with force the nations of the world. Now Islam is faced with dramatic choices. If it continues to press oil prices higher, the world comes closer to anarchy, economies will substantially weaken, and Islam risks losing its own investments. If Islam backs off and reduces oil prices, it stages a public relations coup, essentially buying good will among the nations, and can accelerate its colonization of the developed nations. At the appropriate time, Islam will have the forces in place to subdue the nations as the price of oil is then allowed to rise unimpeded. The world is now at the place where it is submitting to Islam. King Abdullah knows it. The Islamic world knows it. And unless the West understands these implications of Biblical proportions, the world will soon find itself in the crucible of prophecy. An angel of the Lord prophesied of Ishmael in Genesis 16:12, saying "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." Ezekiel 38 prophesies of a colossal end time battle where the Islamic world with Russia leads an attack on Israel. And Revelation 13:7 speaks of the antichrist making war with the saints and overcoming them and taking control of the world. Islam may well be laying that groundwork.
June 16….(In The Days) We need more sanctions. The next step is for the Europeans and the United States and Russia and China to understand that diplomacy only works if there are consequences. It is the international issue that faces us all. If the people in the Middle East do not think that the United States and Europe, for example, are going to work to provide security, they will find ways to secure themselves. And what the Middle East does not need is a nuclear arms race. It does not need the instability that comes from an innate fear that the West is not strong enough or willing enough to take on the problem. (“…upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity…” Luke 21:25) When you go to the Middle East and you sit in my seat and listen, yes, there’s concern about the Palestinian State. But the dialogue has shifted dramatically from ’solve the Palestinian state and you’ve solved the problems in the Middle East’ to, now, ’solve the Iranian issue and you solve the problems in the Middle East’. I have made it clear that it’s difficult for the United States to resolve an issue in a one-on-one situation with people like Ahmadinejad. The only way to achieve consequences through diplomacy is for there to be a universal application, in this case, of sanctions.”
June 14….(DEBKA) In an interview with the London Times , June 11, US president George W. Bush said his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran. Regarding the Israeli minister Shaul Mofaz’s recent assertion that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear installations was “unavoidable”, the US president commented that this “really should be viewed as the need to keep pressuring” Iran. On a farewell trip to Europe, Bush added: “We ought to work together, keep focused” regarding Iran’s nuclear program. DEBKAfile’s informed sources report that President Bush was also clearly bidding farewell to the option of an American strike against Iran’s nuclear program. With six months left of his presidency, his message to the Iranians was: They can either face isolation or they can have better relations with us all.” No third option, of a punishing military strike, was mentioned. Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shot back by saying: “I tell him, your era has come to an end. With the grace of God, you won’t be able to harm even one centimeter of the sacred land of Iran.” DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report that Tehran is driving hard to attain a weapons capability by September or October this year, before Bush leaves the White House. Nonetheless, the US president has shown no sign of departing from the current course of diplomacy and international sanctions against Iran, although it has in no way inhibited Iran’s race for enriched uranium which advances unchecked. This was implied by his reference to a possible successor: Bush voiced concern that the Democratic nominee Barack Obama might “open cracks in the West’s united front towards Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.” But, he hoped that after his successor assesses “what will work or what won’t work in dealing with Iran,” he would stick with the current policy.”
June 14….(YNET) Deputy foreign affairs minister says all option on table for Damascus if Israel refuses to cede Golan Heights. ‘The settlers should not be raising their children in the Golan, since this is not their place. They should bear in mind that we will defend our land at any time.’ Syrian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal al-Miqdad said on Saturday that Damascus retains several options to reclaim the Golan Heights, including options of a less-than diplomatic nature, the Jordanian daily ‘al-Dustour’ reports. Al-Miqdad went on to address Israeli residents of the Golan, saying “the settlers should bear in mind that we will defend our land at any time. They should know that the Golan Heights belong to us and that they should not be raising their children in the Golan, since this is not their place. They will not enjoy their lives there. “Syria has several courses of action if Israel refuses to return the Golan, however we still support peace and are not afraid of entering peace negotiations with Israel,” said al-Miqdad. “Syria was surprised to find that the commitments that Israel made in the past regarding the Syrian channel, were not binding,” he said. The deputy minister also addressed the indirect negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus through Turkish mediation, saying that Syria saw the talks as being based on the principle of the so-called ‘Rabin Deposit.’ “We are not striving for peace from a position of weakness. The victory achieved by the Lebanese resistance (Hizbullah) in July 2006 changed everything in the region,” said al-Miqdad. Meanwhile Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa is sounding notably pessimistic regarding the talks with Israel. In an interview with the Jordanian paper, al-Sharaa said the negotiations in Turkey are conducted in separate rooms, with the Turkish mediator shuttling between the delegations.
June 12....(AP) EL-ARISH, Egypt (AFP) - Egyptian authorities on Thursday found weapons and explosives in the Sinai desert they believe were destined for the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a security official said. Authorities found "three automatic weapons, two hand grenades, and three boxes full of ammunition in a warehouse in central Sinai," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The warehouse was discovered after a tip-off from local residents, he said, adding that no arrests had been made. Israel and the United States have repeatedly accused Egypt of not doing enough to secure its border with the Gaza Strip, which has been under the control of Islamist group Hamas for a year. The charges have been vehemently denied by Cairo. The find comes as Israeli defense official Amos Gilad was in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian-mediated truce deal between Hamas and the Jewish state. Israel has demanded an end to arms smuggling from Egypt's Sinai peninsula as part of the deal.
June 12....(AP) BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip - A blast flattened the house of a militant commander in the Gaza Strip Thursday, killing four people, wounding 40 and burying an unknown number of others, Palestinian officials said. Israel, which routinely accepts responsibility for attacks on military targets, denied involvement. But Hamas said the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike and responded with a heavy barrage of rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel, wounding an Israeli woman. The spiraling violence threatened to undermine last-ditch efforts to secure a truce between Israel and Hamas and stave off an Israeli invasion of Gaza. Israel's denial raised the possibility that the blast was caused by explosives meant for use against Israel that went off prematurely. Ambulances rushed to the scene and residents of nearby homes brought shovels and bulldozers to help dig people from the rubble. Three people covered in blood were carried out on stretchers and hurried into ambulances that sped them away to the local hospital. It was not clear whether the Hamas commander, Ahmed Hamouda, was inside the two-story house at the time of the explosion. Cars parked nearby were destroyed and covered with dust, and windows of neighboring houses and shops were shattered by the impact of the blast. Electricians were on the scene trying to disable live wires in the house, which had been reduced to a pile of debris. Hamas security officials pushed back a screaming mob of hundreds to keep them from disrupting the rescue efforts." It was a huge explosion," said Majid Abu Samra, a local resident. "The house was destroyed, and there are people still buried under the rubble. I evacuated two women who were covered in dust and blood."
June 11...(Jerusalem Post) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is likely to initiate the end of his political career on Wednesday when he is expected to give the authorization necessary for a primary in Kadima to replace him. Olmert had intended to defy political pressure and continue to try to stall the process of ending his premiership, but sources close to him said Tuesday that he now had no choice but to cooperate. The prime minister will reveal his decision Wednesday afternoon in a meeting with the head of Kadima's steering committee, MK Tzahi Hanegbi, and coalition chairman Eli Aflalo. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office tried to downplay Olmert's decision, saying that they "don't expect him to say anything dramatic." Some Kadima MKs said they thought Olmert would still try to delay setting a date for the primary until after the July 17 cross-examination of American financier Morris Talansky and that the cancellation of a steering committee meeting set for Wednesday had "bought him time." But others said the prime minister realized there was no chance of waiting an entire month anymore. "Olmert cannot and will not go against everyone," an MK who is a close confidant of the prime minister said. "If there is a consensus for initiating a primary, he won't stand in the way. He can't put on the brakes any more when there are enough forces in the party who want it to happen."
The apparent change of heart for Olmert happened after Public Security Minister Avi Dichter released a statement clarifying his opinion in favor of initiating a primary. His associates said Hanegbi had misinterpreted him when he told the press last week that he was against starting the primary process before Talansky's cross-examination. "The primary should be no later than the beginning of September," Dichter told Hanegbi on Tuesday. "The date for the primary should be decided by July." Until Tuesday it appeared that three Kadima candidates opposed initiating primaries and only Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was in favor. But now Livni and Dichter are in favor, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit remains opposed and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has decided not to take a stand on the issue. "There will be primaries in Kadima," Mofaz said in a carefully-worded statement. "I want the party to decide when to begin the primary process." Livni's loyalists welcomed the change in the candidates' viewpoints but said that she realized all along that her view had more support than she was being given credit for in the media. Her associates said that Kadima had to take a major step or risk being made irrelevant.
"Kadima has to decide for itself where it is heading in order to restore the public's trust in politics in general and in Kadima specifically," a Livni associate said. "Kadima must begin to prepare and make big decisions." Olmert's opinion was also expected to be affected by the growing support in the Knesset for Likud MK Silvan Shalom's bill to disperse the Knesset and initiate an election in November. Meretz endorsed the bill on Tuesday, giving it the support of 74 MKs. Labor officials said the only way they would vote against the bill was if Olmert agreed to initiate a primary. Labor's 19 MKs could prevent the bill from passing when it comes to a preliminary reading in the Knesset next Wednesday. A high-ranking Shas official said the bill would be delayed by a week "for a hundred different reasons" and only voted on June 25. Shalom has expressed a willingness to delay the vote by a week to obtain Shas's support. Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra endorsed Livni in the Kadima leadership race on Tuesday, becoming the first Kadima minister or high-ranking party official to openly take sides in the race.
June 11...(Jerusalem Post) The long-delayed decision whether to accept an Egyptian-brokered cease fire with Hamas or step up military operations against the Gaza Strip came before the security cabinet on Wednesday, and despite reports that a majority of ministers favored tough military action, the decision was to give the cease fire talks more time. The meeting was preceded by a Tuesday discussion between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in which the various scenarios were reportedly discussed. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin also took part in that meeting, from which no details were provided. One government source said that while Olmert and Livni favor stepped-up military action before agreeing to a cease fire, Barak wants to send his top adviser Amos Gilad back to Egypt one more time for additional clarifications before taking action
Although technically Olmert, Barak and Livni could take action on their own without seeking approval from the security cabinet, the source said that in the current political climate, where whatever decision Olmert takes would be criticized as having been influenced by his legal and political problems, he wanted the decision to have the backing of the security cabinet. A number of cabinet ministers came out in favor of a widespread action before Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting, with Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim, a close Olmert ally, saying "Israel must launch an operation against Hamas," adding that the country could not risk letting the Islamic group rearm itself "before the next round." Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann advised the ministers at the cabinet meeting (held on Tuesday rather than Sunday because of the Shavuot holiday) against talking publicly about whether or not there would be an operation, saying that the constant discussion on the matter reminded him of how Hassidim "wait for the messiah." Barak also advocated taking a much lower public profile on the matter. "When the moment comes, we will act," he said. "The defense establishment is dealing with it, and the ministers should listen to what is being said about what can, and cannot, be accomplished through the various actions.
June 10....(Reuters) - Iran's defense minister was quoted on Tuesday as warning Israel of a "very painful" response if it launched a military strike over the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program. On Friday, Israeli Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told an Israeli newspaper an attack on Iran looked "unavoidable" given the apparent failure of United Nations sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential. "Our armed forces are at the height of their readiness and if anyone should want to undertake such a foolish job the response would be very painful," the state Iran daily quoted Iranian Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying. Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has described Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its existence. Olmert last week said it must be stopped by "all possible means." Iran does not recognize Israel and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is regularly predicting its demise.
Palestinians: IDF air strike kills three Hamas operatives.
June 10....(Jerusalem Post) With a decision on a military operation in the Gaza Strip potentially only hours away, the violence in southern Israel showed no signs of relief, with the IDF reportedly killing three Hamas operatives in air strike which followed an intense mortar shell barrage on Tuesday. Shortly after noontime, at least 18 mortar shells fired by Palestinian gunmen pounding the western Negev. The projectiles landed in open areas throughout the Gaza periphery, and no wounded was reported. Shortly after the barrage, the IDF launched an air strike against the Palestinian cell responsible. The army confirmed hitting members of the cell, but could not confirm Palestinian reports that three of the men were killed. According to the Palestinians, both men killed in the air strike were members of special Hamas military unit. In addition to the fatalities, seven other people were wounded, Palestinian officials said. Earlier on Tuesday, four Kassam rockets struck open areas throughout the western Negev, from southern Asheklon to the Eshkol region. Nobody was wounded in those attacks, and no damage was reported. Four mortar shells were also fired without incident earlier in the day.
June 9….(Jerusalem Post) US Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain used the status of Jerusalem to attack his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama on Friday, accusing his opponent of flip-flopping on the issue while affirming his own commitment to an "undivided Jerusalem." "I can't react to every comment that Senator Obama makes, because it probably will change," McCain told a crowd of supporters while campaigning in Florida. "The point is Jerusalem is undivided. Jerusalem is the capital," he continued, and, in an effort to offer a practical demonstration of his stance, suggested moving the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. However, McCain qualified his comments by emphasizing that regardless of his position, the status of the city is still subject to negotiation. "The subject of Jerusalem itself will be addressed in negotiations by the Israeli government and people," he said. The Arizona senator's remarks were published in The New York Times on Saturday. On Thursday, the Obama campaign told The Jerusalem Post that the Democratic presidential nominee did not rule out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem when he called for Israel's capital to remain "undivided." Obama had declared on Wednesday that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," to rousing applause from the 7,000-plus attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference. But a campaign adviser clarified Thursday that Obama believes "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties" as part of "an agreement that they both can live with." "Two principles should apply to any outcome," which the adviser gave as: "Jerusalem remains Israel's capital and it's not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967."
June 9….(World Tribune) An Israeli government official has acknowledged that the crucial issue of the future status of Jerusalem is unlikely to be resolved in negotiations with Palestinians this year, reflecting the abiding gaps between the sides. Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Saturday that Israel was still committed to the goal set at the American-sponsored peace conference at Annapolis, Maryland, last fall: to try to reach an agreement outlining Palestinian statehood and dealing with "all the core issues" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the end of this year. But Regev said he did not think Jerusalem's future could be resolved so quickly. "We will outline a methodology for an agreed framework on how to deal with Jerusalem in the future," he said. He spoke after a senior Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qurei, said the two sides had agreed recently to start drafting a paper defining their respective positions on the various topics under discussion. But Qurei, responding to Regev's remarks, made it clear in a telephone interview Saturday that a mere framework would be unacceptable. "If there is no Jerusalem," he said, "there will be no agreement." The Jerusalem issue is highly emotional and symbolic for both sides and has frustrated negotiators in previous talks for decades.
Iran Controlling Islamic Masses Through Cleric Icons
Protesters shout slogans as they hold a poster showing on left the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and on right the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, during a rally in Kufa, 100 miles)south of Baghdad, Iraq. Tens of thousands of Shiite faithful streamed out of mosques to join protests against a security agreement with the United States, following a call by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who opposes the deal which could lead to a long-term US troop presence in Iraq.
WEEK OF JUNE 1 THROUGH JUNE 7
Obama Backtracks on Status of Jerusalem
June 6….(JWR) Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama did not rule out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem when he called for Israel's capital to remain "undivided," his campaign told The Jerusalem Post Thursday. "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," Obama declared Wednesday, to rousing applause from the 7,000-plus attendees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference. But a campaign adviser clarified Thursday that Obama believes "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties" as part of "an agreement that they both can live with." "Two principles should apply to any outcome," which the adviser gave as: "Jerusalem remains Israel's capital and it's not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967. Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Barak Obama stood before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee parley Wednesday morning and declared his complete, unqualified support for a Jewish Jerusalem. The Holy City, he said, "will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." The move was an attempt to score points with many in the Jewish and evangelical communities who, given Obama's past political relationships with terrorist sympathizers, racists, and other undesirables, have been weary of how, as president, he would treat the Jewish State. The rousing applause from the audience, including some of the most powerful politicians in America, was immediate. Almost as immediate, though, was Hamas' condemnation. Leaders of the terrorist group had previously endorsed Obama as their choice for America's Commander in Chief. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he "totally rejected" Obama's Jerusalem pronouncement. "The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state," he added. What a difference a day makes. On Thursday, when queried by CNN, Obama said he was misunderstood. "Well," Obama explained, "obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations." Despite telling the AIPCAC conference what it wanted to hear and believe, an undivided Jerusalem was, in fact, never his campaign's position. Obama's adviser for the Middle East, former Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, in May told the Israeli mass circulation daily, Haaretz, that his campaign considers it "impossible to make progress on serious peace talks without putting the future of Jerusalem on the table."
June 6….(IsraelNN.com) Within 24 hours of expressing his firm support for a united Jerusalem in a speech to a pro-Israel lobby organization, US Senator Barack Obama found himself forced to backtrack in the face of Arab anger on Thursday. Obama had managed to enrage Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) with his first foreign policy speech since garnering enough delegates to win the nomination at the Democratic convention in Denver this summer. "Let me be clear," said Obama from the podium at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington on Wednesday, "Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish State, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided," he declared. Responding to Obama's remarks, a livid Abbas told reporters, "This statement is totally rejected. The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital." By Thursday Obama was quickly backpedaling, telling reporters "Well, obviously it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations… As a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute [a policy of the capital remaining undivided.]" Obama went on to expressed the view that there must be a way in which "everyone has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem, but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city." Israel has provided Christians and Muslims with free and complete access control of holy sites in Jerusalem since the Holy City was restored to the Jewish State in the 1967 Six-Day War. During the time the city was occupied by Jordan, from 1948 to 1967, Christians and Jews were prohibited from holy sites.
June 6….(Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) Iran is threatening to sue the United States for damaging Iran's international reputation by accusing it of trying to make a nuclear bomb. Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Danish Embassy in Pakistan over cartoons published by a Danish newspaper that made fun of the "prophet" Mohammed. And the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel recently issued a report that Islamic attacks against Christians in Gaza were noticeably increasing. But an American president predicted Islam’s radical behavior against the West in 1827. The Barbary pirates were Islamic terrorists from modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. They were attacking American ships and holding Christian Americans as slaves. In 1786, future presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met with the Libyan ambassador to Britain Sidi Adja to discuss peace. Adja told them, "that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise." Adam's son, President John Quincy Adams wrote of Mohammed in the 1827 American Annual Register: "...combining the powers of transcendent genius with the preternatural energy of a fanatic and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth...He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war as part of his religion against all the rest of mankind. The essence of his doctrine was violence and lust; to exalt the brutal over the spiritual part of human nature." Adams spoke of the 1,200-year war between Christianity and Islam: "That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinctive of that impostor, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute are encouraged to furnish motives to human action, there never can be peace on earth and good will toward men." Then Adams waxed prophetic by quoting from Genesis 16:11, 12, "Behold, thou art with child, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael; and he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." This is a far cry from today's presidents and presidential wannabes, who claim Islam, is peaceful.
June 5….(IsraelNN.com) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted after his meeting with US President George W. Bush Wednesday that US action against Iran is imminent. While he avoided saying anything clear and specific on the matter, Olmert did mention a "timetable" and said action would take place before Bush leaves the White House. "We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat," Olmert said after the meeting. "I left with a lot less question marks [than I had entered with] regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and America's resoluteness to deal with the problem." "George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term in the White House," Olmert reportedly said after his 90 minute long one-on-one meeting with the American Commander in Chief. "With every day that goes by we get closer to stopping the Iranian nuclear plan," Olmert said. He said that meaningful steps were being taken to handle Iran "more effectively" and told reporters: "The Iranian problem requires urgent attention, and I see no reason to delay this just because there will be a new President in the White House seven and a half months from now." "The US is a leading element in dealing with Iran," Olmert said. "These are serious matters; I am not just saying this, It is not good to publicize everything."
June 5….(JPOST) It is hard to imagine that had Al Gore been elected president, the US would have invaded Iraq. Similarly, the policy of Republican John McCain, if elected president, will in almost all certainty be different from the policy of Democrat Barack Obama should he enter the White House. These candidates' views about American foreign policy are significantly divergent, reflecting the difference between their respective parties.
McCain is convinced that an Iran with nuclear weapons constitutes an unacceptable risk. He believes it is a country that supports terror and interferes with American efforts in Iraq by arming and training Shi'ite militias. He has claimed that the US is facing "an evil man and a very dangerous regime," and that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons it will assume that since no country will want to confront it, it therefore has unlimited power. In such a situation, it will be perceived as a threat to other countries in the Middle East that may in turn want to develop nuclear capacities of their own. McCain is among the senators behind the decision to define the Revolutionary Guards, the military arm of the Iranian regime, as a terror organization. He has criticized Ahmadinejad's declarations about the destruction of Israel and denial of the Holocaust, and argued that they expose the danger posed by a nuclear empowered Iran. Nonetheless, McCain prefers a diplomatic solution to the problem, emphasizes the use of "aggressive" diplomacy, and supports the imposition of significant political and economic sanctions. If the Security Council does not impose substantial sanctions on Iran, as president he will likely try to muster the support of leading countries that will put this into effect, and will also aim to delegitimize the Iranian government. McCain does not explicitly mention replacing the Iranian government, but he talks about generating internal discussion in the country to demonstrate that the government does not represent public opinion, rather the aspirations of an extreme elite. He does not rule out the use of military force. The US National Intelligence Estimate of December 2007, which determined that Iran apparently suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, did not substantially change McCain's approach. He claims that Teheran still constitutes a threat due to its involvement in international terror and its support of "Hamas and Hizbullah, terror organizations bent on the destruction of Israel." However, he identifies less urgency in the matter, and hopes that it may be possible to hold talks between the countries, but only after Iran suspends its nuclear activity, and without the US providing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a propaganda opportunity, especially if it does not receive anything in return. Obama is more moderate on Iran than McCain, emphasizes the use of diplomacy, and is even planning direct talks with Iran (initially at low government level) without preconditions. On the other hand, he, too, does not rule out the military option, which would enjoy more extensive support if adopted only after the US has already proven that it has made every diplomatic effort. Obama defines Iran as "a genuine threat to the United States and Israel," and Ahmadinejad's administration as "a threat to all of us." He, too, recognizes the dangerous implications of nuclear weapons in Iran's possession for regional stability. Obama initiated a law designed to help US states withdraw investments by companies that trade with Iran. On the other hand, he did not support the decision that called for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to be defined as a terror organization, as he saw this as an overly belligerent approach that might provide the Bush administration with the basis for launching an attack on Iran.
McCain supported launching the war in Iraq and subsequent US efforts to stabilize the country, despite criticizing the strategy as too weak until a decision was made in early 2007 to reinforce the troops. He believes that exiting Iraq now and even setting a timetable for the withdrawal would be tantamount to admitting defeat. It would be "a mistake of colossal historical proportions" that would lead to catastrophic results for the Middle East: civil war in Iraq, a strengthening of Iran's standing, unsettlement of regional equilibrium, a strengthening of the Taliban and al-Qaida, and a greater threat to Israel. On the other hand, a US victory in Iraq means a functional country (even if with a flawed democracy) that cooperates with the United States in a long struggle against terror. Obama has opposed the war in Iraq since it began (even before he was elected senator), and he mentions this record regularly. Obama believes that the US's security situation has deteriorated since 2003, as the invasion and occupation of Iraq have led to the strengthening of international terror, Iran, al-Qaida, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Taliban.
He blasts the financial price of the war as too high, damaging the US economy, increasing the US's monetary dependence on foreign capital, and in turn damaging national security. Obama promised that as president, he would start to withdraw American troops from Iraq immediately and continue over the following year and a half. At the end of the process a very small force would remain there to protect Americans in Iraq, train Iraqi security forces and carry out operations against al-Qaida.
Israel and the Palestinians
McCain is a veteran supporter of Israel. He believes that Israel is America's "natural ally in what is a titanic struggle against Islamic extremists," and that the "bond between the United States and Israel is not only strategic, but also moral." McCain has promised that as president he will work to strengthen America's commitment to Israel's security, and will continue to provide it with arms and technology that will maintain its military supremacy in the region. He sees Hamas as a terror organization and an ally of Iran with which, until it recognizes Israel's existence, the US and Israel should not negotiate. He asserts that no sovereign state can accept repeated terror attacks on its territory and citizens, and thus he supports the action Israel takes against Hamas and other terror organizations in the Gaza Strip. McCain has even said that Israel should not be pressed into any negotiations as long as terror exists. He favors talks with Abu Mazen, but cautions that the Palestinian Authority president's control is limited. Regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians, McCain declared that he does not believe Israel should return to the 1967 borders. Since Obama was elected to the Senate and through his presidential campaign, he has also expressed his support for Israel in its struggle against terror. He defines Israel as "the US's strongest ally in the region, and the only democracy there"; he is committed to Israel's security, including by maintaining its military superiority; he sees Hamas as "a terror organization devoted to the idea of destroying the State of Israel," and therefore does not comprise a legitimate partner to negotiations until it changes its attitude. Obama supports a two-state solution and is "committed to making every effort to help Israel achieve peace," but will not force a settlement on it; he opposes a Palestinian right of return. Obama is the only candidate who has not expressed support for the security fence, which he described as "another example of the neglect of this administration in brokering peace." Who, then, is "good for Israel"? That depends on the beholder. McCain would maintain Bush's line, probably without the religious, emotional and personal elements that made his strong support of Israel exaggerated among portions of American public opinion. Obama, on the other hand, would likely inject a sense of urgency to the political process, and would display less patience over what is viewed as foot-dragging by Israel in implementing its commitments according to the road map (significant removal of army roadblocks, evacuation of outposts, freeze of settlement construction). Those who believe that Israel requires a US administration that does not pressure it into following a path that it does not want to take, and is committed to stopping the Iranian danger through military means, if necessary, will prefer McCain over Obama. Those who feel that Israel needs a US administration that will impose a direction on it that it might otherwise not pursue, and that the danger of a nuclear empowered Iran does not necessitate the use of military force will prefer Obama over McCain. Nevertheless, there is a word of caution for members of the latter group. While Obama allows himself to express relatively balanced positions already at the election campaign stage, it is possible that after he is elected, his policy will reflect his original critical positions. The future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict depends more on what happens between the sides than the extent and nature of the involvement of any US administration. On the other hand, the continued presence of the US in Iraq almost entirely depends on the next US administration. Indeed, a decision on the withdrawal of the American army is an individual decision by the president; Bush's success in withstanding the pressure of the Democratic majority in Congress proves this. The way in which the United States deals with the Iranian danger, through more effective diplomacy and/or implementing the military option, mainly depends on Washington. The president can also decide on his own to launch an aerial attack on Iran, as opposed to a land-based invasion. It seems, then, perhaps more than in other elections, that the particular Democrat or Republican who will enter the White House will to a large extent shape the future of the Middle East
June 5….(Ken Timmerman) Israel can no longer deter Iran, because Iran’s leaders “don’t care about their own citizens,” former Israel Defense Minister Dr. Ephraim Sneh told a gathering of pro-Israel supporters in Washington on Tuesday. Drawing an analogy from the second Lebanon war in the summer of 2006, Sneh reminded his audience that “half the civilian Israeli casualties were Arabs, Israeli Arabs.” And yet, the fact that Hezbollah rocket attacks were killing fellow Muslims, whom Hezbollah had vowed to defend, meant little to the Iranian-backed militia. “What Hezbollah said was, they declared them shahids, as martyrs,” Sneh said. “By doing so, they solved for themselves the moral problem. They killed Arabs, Muslims mainly, and they said, they are an acceptable price for hitting Israel. So take your logic, and put it aside when you are talking about irrational leadership.” Brig. Gen. Sneh was just one of several current and former Israeli leaders who came to Washington this week, to warn about the growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is facing moves within his own Kadima party to remove him from office in the wake of yet another corruption scandal back home, also traveled to Washington to deliver a public warning. Efforts by Iran to mislead the international community, including IAEA inspectors, about the status of its nuclear research and its refusal to back down despite three United Nations Security Council resolutions, made it clear that the world community must take “more robust measures” against Iran. Failing that, “Israel will not tolerate the possibility of a nuclear Iran, and neither should any country in the free world,” Olmert said. Sneh called Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons capability “the only red line that counts” and warned that Israel “will be compelled to take action” against Iran to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons. He also warned against the belief, currently championed by former president Jimmy Carter, and his former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, now a foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, that the United States can “negotiate” with Iran’s leaders. Carter urged the Bush administration on Tuesday to rapidly open negotiations with Iran to impress upon them the consequences of a possible US military attack on their country, because Iran’s leaders are “reasonable people” and “are not suicidal” and could be expected to back down. Sneh swept aside negotiations as naïve and dangerously misinformed. “If the Ayatollahs believe that the price for their aggression is 5 million Iranians dead, they will think that it is worth doing,” he said. “You have to understand, this leadership [in Iran] is living according to a very extremist, fanatic, messianic Shiite mythology of bringing back the 12th imam. They are not thinking in the way you and I think. And for them, the destruction of the Jewish State is a target, an objective, that is worth a big sacrifice.” Sneh is a member of the Labor Party, Olmert’s coalition party in the current government. His remarks and those of Likud Party Benjamin Netanyahu recently demonstrate strongly the consensus within the Israeli political establishment as to danger of a nuclear-armed Iran. Appearing together with Sneh at an international conference in Herzliya, Israel last month, Netanyahu said that Iran had no fear of an Israeli counter-strike and that “nothing” would stop the Tehran regime from attacking Israel except a pre-emptive strike. “Iran will be the first nuclear state in history against which deterrence won't work, even if the deterrent is nuclear,” Netanyahu said. Because of the Iranian regime’s messianic policies, Israel and its allies should help the Iranian people to change the regime, Sneh told the AIPAC conference. “The problem is not the nuclear project,” Sneh said. “The problem is the regime, the regime that is based on Islamic fascism.” He added: “It’s the regime that should be eliminated. Who should do it? The Iranian people.”
June 5….(YNET) President Bush tells Prime Minister Olmert world must take Iranian threat seriously, 'which the United States does'; PM Olmert says Tehran is main threat faced by Israel at this time Iranian threat tops agenda: US President George W. Bush told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday that Iran was an "existential threat to peace" and said the world must take that threat seriously. "It is very important for the world to take the Iranian threat seriously, which the United States does," Bush said as he began White House talks with Olmert, visiting amid a corruption scandal at home that could drive him from office. President Bush is trying to reassure Israelis worried about the US commitment to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The two leaders met in the Oval Office. At this time there is no official confirmation from Prime Minister Olmert's associates that he will ask Bush to order a military strike on Iran before the end of his tenure. However, a senior diplomatic source involved in contacts with the Americans in recent years said that on several occasions Israel asked for more decisive US action against the Iranians, based on the assumption that diplomatic activity is insufficient to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The two leaders were also expected to discuss Israel's request to acquire one or two squadrons of the F-35 stealth aircraft, and possibly also F-22 jets. Both models are considered the most advanced in the world.
In a press statement following the meeting, Olmert said that the discussions about the Iranian threat "derive from the need for a profound mutual understanding as to the need for handling the threat, to prevent Iran from acquiring unconventional powers." "I came out with fewer question marks about the ways, means, time constraints, and determination necessary for handling the issue," he continued. Olmert also commented on the Syrian peace process, saying that "Israel and the US are cooperating strategically, so clearly the Americans were aware of our efforts with Syria." He refused to comment on a schedule for the talks however, remarking, "I don't want to create momentary excitement over a subject that is extremely sensitive, which could cause disruption and harm." The prime minister did say that a meeting with the Syrians was not scheduled for the next 24 hours. Commenting on newly elected Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech, during which he promised Jerusalem would remain Israel's undivided capital, Olmert said, "Obama's appearance was impressive, and what he said about Jerusalem was touching."
June 5….(IsraelNN.com) US Presidential candidate Barack Obama, speaking at the AIPAC convention in Washington Wednesday, said that Jerusalem must remain undivided. "Jerusalem must remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," Obama said, to the rousing applause of the AIPAC audience. He also said that any agreement Israel makes with the "Palestinian Authority" must retain Israel's character as a Jewish state, thus appearing to side with the Israeli position on not allowing Arab refugees from 1948 into Israel. Obama said that he would never compromise on Israel's security. He noted that the Bush policy in Iraq, which he characterized as "war at the expense of diplomacy," has weakened the security of both Israel and the US, because in the past two years Iran has increased its threats against Israel and its nuclear capabilities. "I will do everything in my power, everything to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon," Obama said. Fatah-PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas was quick to react to Obama's statements. In a televised speech, he said that he rejected Obama's statement completely. PRIVATE "TYPE=PICT;ALT= "The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was captured in 1967 and we will not agree to a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital." Saeb Erikat, advisor to Abbas, said Wednesday that Barack Obama had "shut all of the doors on achieving peace." He said the Arabs would continue to demand eastern Jerusalem in the negotiations with Israel. "We are very disappointed," Erikat said. "Obama failed to understand that without east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, no peace will be achieved with Israel."
Hamas's leadership in Gaza also voiced anger with Obama's statements. "Obama's statement proved once and for all that there will be no change in the United States' policy about the Israeli-Arab conflict," spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhari said. "Hamas does not differentiate between the two candidates for presidency, Obama and John McCain, because their policies are no different," he said.
(FOJ) King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia attends the opening ceremony of the three day conference of interfaith dialogue with Christianity and Islam at the Muslims holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 4, 2008. Saudi King Abdullah said Islam must do away with the dangers of extremism to present the religion's 'good message' to the world as he opened a conference of Muslim figures Wednesday, aimed at launching an interfaith dialogue with Christianity and Islam.
June 5….(Associated Press) Saudi Arabia's king urged a gathering of Muslim scholars Wednesday to open religious dialogue with Christians and Jews. But politics intruded as a senior Iranian figure said the Islamic world should stand up to the US and its "international arrogance." King Abdullah spoke at the start of a three-day conference of Islamic scholars, clerics and other figures in the holy city of Mecca called to get Muslims on the same page before the kingdom launches a landmark initiative for talks with adherents of other monotheistic faiths. The tone was one of reconciliation between Islam's two main branches, Sunni and Shiite. Abdullah, one of Sunni Islam's most prominent figures, entered the hall with Shiite Iranian politician Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who later sat at the king's left in a gesture of unity. But while Rafsanjani spoke warmly of his host, he also highlighted the political divide between their nations by delivering pointed criticism of America, a Saudi ally. He accused the US of greedily trying to control the region's oil and said Muslims should resist it. Saudi Arabia has presented its dialogue proposal as a strictly religious initiative, an opportunity to ease tensions within Islam and between it and Christianity and Judaism. Still, the initiative has political implications, coming from a Mideast heavyweight that does not have diplomatic ties with Israel. Jewish leaders have generally praised Abdullah's proposal, though it is not clear if Israeli Jewish leaders will be invited to take part. Participants say they hope the gathering will culminate in an agreement on a global Islamic charter on dialogue with Christians and Jews. They expect Saudi Arabia to make a formal call for an interfaith dialogue at the conference's close or soon after. The initiative also represents a move by Abdullah to present oil-rich Saudi Arabia as a force for moderation in the region, despite the kingdom's adherence to the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam and its religious restrictions at home, including a ban on non-Muslim religious services and symbols.In his opening speech, Abdullah told the 500 delegates from around 50 Muslim nations that Muslims must do away with the dangers of extremism to present Islam's "good message" to the world. "You have gathered today to tell the whole world that we are a voice of justice and values and humanity, that we are a voice of coexistence and a just and rational dialogue," he said. He said the Islamic world faces difficult challenges from the extremism of some Muslims, whose aggressions "target the magnanimity, fairness and lofty aims of Islam." The Saudi outreach to Iran and Shiites was significant. Relations between Saudi Arabia and mainly Shiite Iran are uneasy as the two rivals for influence in the Middle East stand on opposite sides of political divides in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Wahhabi ideology also considers Shiites to be infidels, and days before the conference hard-line Saudi clerics issued a statement harshly denouncing Shiites. Several senior Shiite figures were invited to the conference, including Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, head of Lebanon's Hezbollah, which was strongly criticized by Saudi Arabia for overrunning mostly Sunnis areas in Beirut last month. The three leaders did not show up, but Fadlallah, who is recovering from a minor operation, sent his son, Sayyed Ali Fadlallah. In addition, two prominent sheiks from Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority attended. By inviting Rafsanjani, a former Iranian president who now heads two powerful clerical governing bodies, Saudi Arabia signaled it doesn't have a problem with Shiites it sees as moderates. Rafsanjani is believed to be on good terms with Abdullah, and the two men worked to repair relations between their countries in the 1990s. Acknowledging his closeness to Abdullah, Rafsanjani referred to the Saudi monarch as "a very dear personality" in his speech. He also spoke of the growing Sunni-Shiite split, saying that before Muslims speak with adherents of other religions, they must patch up their differences. "It's a sin to have conflicts," he said. But Rafsanjani also underlined Iran's differences with Saudi Arabia, saying Muslims should stand up to the United States and not let it gain control of the natural resources of Muslim countries, a pointed comment in oil giant Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Washington. "Why should this tremendous group (Muslims) be weak before the International Arrogance?" Rafsanjani said, using a common term among Iranian leaders for the US "We do not want to use force or to be unjust, but we don't want to hand over our rights to others." The US is "greedy, and (wants) to control our countries and to pressure us and plunder our wealth and resources," he said.
June 4….(DEBKA) In his interview in Dubai on June 2, president Bashar Assad raised his price for a peace deal with Israel, DEBKAfile’s political source note. The Golan, which Syria’s invading army lost to Israel in the 1967 war, is not enough; Assad is also demanding a strip of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which Damascus considers demilitarized territory held by Israel against international law. The last round of peace talks eight years ago broke down over this very demand. The Syrian ruler told the Gulf newspaper al-Khaleej: “But if the question of water is intended for us to give up the 1967 borders that stretch to Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), then there will never be a compromise on the 1967 borders.” The strip Assad referred to is crowded with the Israeli kibbutzim, Ha’on, Tel Katzir, Shear Hagolan and Massada, which in the 1950s and 1960s lived under constant Syrian shelling from the Golan plateau overhead. These attacks often blew up into major Israel-Syria clashes and aerial dogfights. DEBKAfile’s sources comment that Assad published his expanded demands on the day Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert arrived in Washington for talks with the US president and top officials. The message he was broadcasting from Dubai was addressed to George W. Bush’s successor in the White House in the hope that the next president opts for diplomatic talks with Tehran and Damascus. The Syrian ruler therefore made a point of mentioning that serious peace talks with Israel would not start before next year and Washington would need to take a hand in the process. Jockeying for position ahead of these talks, Assad made it clear that he was also challenging Israel’s control of the Sea of Galilee, the main source of its national water supply. “As for water,” he said. “There are international rules that govern these matters and are usually referred to.” Damascus has always claimed that the sources feeding the lake are Syrian and Lebanese and Israel therefore does not have exclusive ownership
June 4….(JNEWSWIRE) Tens of thousands of visitors came up to Jerusalem Sunday and Monday to participate in celebrations marking 41 years since the capital was reunified and restored to Jewish sovereignty millennia after it was lost to them. Parades, concerts, flag dances and fireworks shows are among the numerous events taking place around the city through this week as "Jerusalem 40" the special year of commemorations since the age-old daily Amidah prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem to the Jews was finally answered - draws to a close. The 40th Anniversary of Jerusalem's Reunification coincides with the 60th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Jewish State, celebrations of which have been underway for weeks, bringing thousands of well-wishers to the land. Sunday also saw massive rallies in celebration of the 60 years taking place in New York and Washington DC as Americans joined their hearts with Israelis for this special occasion. The resurrection of the Jewish nation in their homeland, and their return to rule in Jerusalem, was all foretold in the Bible, in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Millions of Bible-believing Christians therefore rejoiced when Jerusalem was returned to Jewish rule, remembering the words of Jesus Christ, who about 30 years before the Romans destroyed the city and its Temple in AD70 said that one day, after being trodden underfoot by gentile powers for a long period of time, during which the Jewish people would suffer unending persecution, Jerusalem would finally be restored to its rightful owners. When it happened, in 1967, this restoration was seen as a miracle in and of itself as in just six days Israel demolished Arab armies amassed to destroy the Jewish state. Forty-one years later, as the song "Jerusalem of Gold" made famous after that victory echoes up from the Sultan's Pool down below the Old City walls, an unrelenting international effort continues to wrest the holiest parts of this sacred city away from the Jews once more. Most sought after is Israel's holiest site, the Temple Mount, which is earmarked to become part of the Arab State of Palestine, when it is created. An exclusive report at the top of the WorldNetDaily website Monday was headlined, "Temple Mount '100 percent Islamic' and quoted PLO chief and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' chief of staff as warning that "any Israeli action that 'offends' the Mount will be answered by 1.5 billion Muslims."
June 4….(Israel Insider) Over 7,000 people roared their approval of Senator John McCain yesterday as he delivered a foreign policy address to the annual conference of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). The Republican presidential nominee told the crowd that the "surge" had helped turn the tide in Iraq, and he reminded them that Barack Obama voted to cut off funds to American troops. McCain told the conference that the American-Israel alliance must be strengthened. He rejected talks with Iranian leader Ahmadinejad, who yesterday promised his supporters that Israel and the US would soon disappear. The Republican standard-bearer mocked Obama's position that we should immediately negotiate with Ahmadinejad without any pre-conditions. "We hear talk of a meeting with the Iranian leadership offered up as if it were some sudden inspiration, a bold new idea that somehow nobody has ever thought of before. Yet it's hard to see what such a summit with President Ahmadinejad would actually gain, except an earful of anti-Semitic rants, and a worldwide audience for a man who denies the Holocaust and talks before frenzied crowds about starting another. Such a spectacle would harm Iranian moderates and dissidents, as the radicals and hardliners strengthen their position and suddenly acquire the appearance of respectability." "Rather than sit down unconditionally with the Iranian president or supreme leader in the hope that we can talk sense into them, we must create the real-world pressures that will peacefully but decisively change the path they are on."
June 4….(Israel Insider) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington Tuesday, stressed the urgency of establishing a Palestinian state, saying that increasing violence in the Middle East makes the establishment of a "peaceful" Palestinian state especially urgent. Her remark, however, was received with stony silence, although the secretary had been warmly greeted by the conference at the outset of her speech. After she noted that this would be her last AIPAC conference as Secretary of State, she jokingly thanked the audience for not treating that remark as an applause line. AIPAC has been skeptical regarding the Palestinian leadership's ability to control terrorism. Rice said that while the present opportunity is far from perfect, it is better than any alternative and should not be missed. "Israelis have waited too long for the security they desire and deserve," she said, "and Palestinians have waited too long, amid daily humiliations, for the dignity of a Palestinian state." Regarding Iran, Rice said "We would be willing to meet with them, but not while they continue to inch closer to a nuclear weapon under the cover of talk." "Our partners in Europe and beyond need to exploit Iran's vulnerabilities more vigorously and impose greater costs on the regime - economically, financially, politically and diplomatically," she added. Rice also said the Palestinian track should take precedence over recently started Israel-Syria talks, although she expressed appreciation for Turkey's mediation efforts. Rice, who was to have come to Israel next week on yet another visit, has decided to cancel her trip, apparently in response to the political crisis in Israel. Sources in Washington said Rice is increasingly concerned that the parties will not be able to reach an agreement before the end of the year, and doubts that there will be a possibility of creating negotiations with the next American administration.
(Iranian president drops by Rome for UN summit, tells EU Israel a political, economical burden to it. Italian government, seemingly embarrassed by outspoken guest, drops him from summit's gala closing event.)
June 3….(YNET) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Rome on Tuesday to attend the United Nations summit on global food security. Ahmadinejad was quick to attack Israel upon his arrival, saying Europe was bearing the economic and political costs of the "false Zionist regime." "I do not believe that my declarations create problems," Ahmadinejad told summit goers via an interpreter. "People like my comments, because this way the public can save themselves from the imposition of the Zionists. "European peoples have suffered the greatest damage from Zionists and today the costs of this false regime, be they political or economic costs, are on Europe's shoulders," he said. Italian public television, RAI, reported that the Iranian president's name was dropped from the summit's closing gala event guest list, which will be hosted by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.Ahmadinejad's participation in the summit has been the source of much embarrassment to the Italian government. Both Berlusconi and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini have made it clear that they would not meet with him, since Iran does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Ahmadinejad had also reportedly asked for a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI but was turned away. The Vatican issued a statement saying all similar requests to see the pope during the summit were declined as well and added that media interpretations that the pope was snubbing anyone were wrong.
June3….(IsraelNN.com) Republican Presidential nominee John McCain and lead Democratic candidate Barack Obama attacked each other's stands regarding the Iranian danger Monday, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made it clear Tuesday that force was still an option for dealing with Iran. Speaking before American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention in Washington, DC, McCain said: "The Iranians have spent years working toward a nuclear program. And the idea that they now seek nuclear weapons because we refuse to engage in presidential-level talks is a serious misreading of history. In reality, a series of administrations have tried to talk to Iran, and none tried harder than the Clinton administration." "Even so, we hear talk of a meeting with the Iranian leadership offered up as if it were some sudden inspiration, a bold new idea that somehow nobody has ever thought of before," McCain said, in a reference to Obama's statements on the matter. "Yet it's hard to see what such a summit with President Ahmadinejad would actually gain, except an earful of anti-Semitic rants, and a worldwide audience for a man who denies one Holocaust and talks before frenzied crowds about starting another. Such a spectacle would harm Iranian moderates and dissidents, as the radicals and hardliners strengthen their position and suddenly acquire the appearance of respectability. It's hard to see what a summit with Ahmadinejad would actually gain, except an earful of anti-Semitic rants. Rather than sitting down unconditionally with the Iranian president or supreme leader in the hope that we can talk sense into them," McCain explained, "we must create the real-world pressures that will peacefully but decisively change the path they are on. Essential to this strategy is the UN Security Council, which should impose progressively tougher political and economic sanctions. Should the Security Council continue to delay in this responsibility, the United States must lead like-minded countries in imposing multilateral sanctions outside the UN framework. A severe limit on Iranian imports of gasoline would create immediate pressure on Khamenei and Ahmadinejad to change course, and to cease in the pursuit of nuclear weapons." McCain noted that he was one of the senators who authored an amendment calling for the designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. "Over three quarters of the Senate supported this obvious step, but not Senator Obama," he said. He opposed this resolution because its support for countering Iranian influence in Iraq was, he said, a 'wrong message not only to the world, but also to the region.' But here, too, he is mistaken. Holding Iran's influence in check, and holding a terrorist organization accountable, sends exactly the right message to Iran, to the region and to the world."
McCain policy 'failed and dangerous'
Sen. Obama was
quick to respond to McCain's criticism: "John McCain stubbornly insists on
continuing a dangerous and failed foreign policy that has clearly made the
United States and Israel less secure," he contended. "Here are the results of
the policies that John McCain has supported, and would continue. During the Bush
Administration, Iran has dramatically expanded its nuclear program, going from
zero centrifuges to more than 3000 centrifuges. During the Bush Administration,
Iran has expanded its influence throughout a vitally important region, plying
Hamas and Hezbollah with money and arms. During the Bush Administration, Hamas
"John McCain continues to run on a platform of doubling down on George Bush's failed policies.Most importantly, the war in Iraq that John McCain supported and promises to continue indefinitely has done more to dramatically strengthen and embolden Iran than anything in a generation." "Confronted with that reality, John McCain promises four more years of the same policies that have strengthened Iran, making the United States and Israel less safe," Obama continued. "He promises to continue a war in Iraq that has emboldened Iran and strengthened its hand. He promises sanctions that the Bush Administration has been unable to persuade the Security Council to deliver. He promises a divestment campaign, even though he refused to sign on to Barack Obama's bipartisan divestment bill, refused to get his colleagues to lift an anonymous hold on the bill, and willfully ignores the fact that trade and investment between Iran and Iraq continue to expand. He stubbornly refuses to engage in aggressive diplomacy, ruling it out unconditionally as a tool of American power. "Instead of recognizing reality," the Democratic contender added, "John McCain continues to run on a platform of doubling down on George Bush's failed policies, while carrying on his divisive brand of politics. The United States and Israel cannot afford four more years of an unwillingness to change course."
'The day is right now'
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke at length about the Iranian threat in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. "Iran must understand that the threat of a military move exists and is not off the table," she said. "The clearer that becomes, the need for [a military strike] in practice may become smaller. The dialogue with Iran is not just a question of conditions but of all of the influences this could have on the moderate camp in the region." Weakness can be interpreted as a sort of acceptance of fate," Livni explained. "We must understand that in this region you either oppose the neighborhood bully or you join him. Dialogue with Iran is not a matter of conditions, they must stop enriching uranium and then we will begin a dialogue." Livni said that some Arab countries are still sitting on the fence and discussing whether or not one can live with a nuclear Iran. "These countries await the international operation which will take the steps, and therefore we make it clear to the international community that the decisive day is not the day of the bomb but right now. Any ineptitude and hesitation create weakness," she explained. "The dialogue with Iran is not just a question of conditions but of all of the influences this could have on the moderate camp in the region. It will see dialogue with Iran as fear, so keeping the military option on the table is relevant and important," she said
(Iran-made 107mm Multiple Launcher Rocket - now in Gaza)
June 3….(DEBKA) The new weapon, of the type used by the Lebanese Hizballah against northern Israel, was fired for the first time by Palestinians from Gaza Tuesday, June 3. It landed on open ground in Shaar Henegev. The newly smuggled weapon carries a 8 kg payload, bigger than the Qassam missile with about the same 9 km range, drastically escalates the Hamas-led war against the southwestern Israeli population. For the first time, the Palestinian terrorists have acquired a weapon launched from a vehicle. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that weapons consignments, including increasingly advanced systems, continue to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Iran and Sudan for Hamas and its terrorist allies. The consignments are dropped from freighters into smugglers’ boats in the Suez Canal and unloaded on the Sinai coast. The Egyptian police are performing better now in intercepting illicit weapons deliveries, but their work is seriously impeded by the fact that some of the officers are bribed by the smugglers for their collaboration.
(Warning: 'Any action that offends holy site will be answered by 1.5 billion Muslims')
June 2 ….(WND) Jerusalem and the Temple Mount belong to the Muslims and any Israeli action that "offends" the Mount will be answered by 1.5 billion Muslims, declared the chief of staff for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "Jerusalem is Muslim. The blessed Al Aqsa mosque and Harem Al Sharif (Temple Mount) is 100 percent Muslim. The Israelis are playing with fire when they threaten Al Aqsa with digging that is taking place," said Abbas' chief of staff Rafiq Al Husseini.
Husseini was referring to Israeli plans to construct a new bridge from the Western Wall area to the Temple Mount. The old bridge was damaged two years ago. When Israeli workers tried to repair it, Palestinian leaders claimed the work was threatening the Al Aqsa Mosque, even though the mosque is located hundreds of feet away, the work did not tunnel under any Mount foundation or touch any structure connected to the mosque, and the repair work, which had been pre-approved by Jordan and the Mount's Muslim custodians, was conducted under the scrutiny of an accessible 24/7 webcam. "Any hurting of Jerusalem will explode the whole negotiations between us and the Israelis, we must work to strengthen Palestinian ties to Jerusalem," al-Husseini said. Israel has been negotiating with Abbas in line with talks started at last November's U.S.-backed Annapolis Summit, which seeks to create a Palestinian state before the end of the year. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is widely expected to offer the Palestinians most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem. The Temple Mount is located in eastern Jerusalem. Mainstream Palestinian leaders claim the Temple Mount is Muslim in spite of overwhelming archaeological evidence documenting the first and second Jewish temples. Taysir Tamimi, chief Palestinian Justice and one of the most influential Muslim leaders in Israel, argued the Jewish Temples never existed, the Western Wall really was a tying post for Muhammad's horse, the Al Aqsa Mosque was built by angels, and Abraham, Moses and Jesus were prophets for Islam. Tamimi is considered the second most important Palestinian cleric after Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. "Israel started since 1967 making archeological digs to show Jewish signs to prove the relationship between Judaism and the city and they found nothing. There is no Jewish connection to Israel before the Jews invaded in the 1880s," said Tamimi. "About these so-called two Temples, they never existed, certainly not at the [Temple Mount]," Tamimi said during a sit-down interview in his eastern Jerusalem office. The Palestinian cleric denied the validity of dozens of digs verified by experts worldwide revealing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temples throughout Jerusalem, including on the Temple Mount itself; excavations revealing Jewish homes and a synagogue in a site in Jerusalem called the City of David; or even the recent discovery of a Second Temple Jewish city in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Tamimi said descriptions of the Jewish Temples in the Hebrew Tanach, in the Talmud and in Byzantine and Roman writings from the Temple periods were forged, and that the Torah was falsified to claim biblical patriarchs and matriarchs were Jewish when indeed they were prophets for Islam. "All this is not real. We don't believe in all your versions. Your Torah was falsified. The text as given to the Muslim prophet Moses never mentions Jerusalem. Maybe Jerusalem was mentioned in the rest of the Torah, which was falsified by the Jews," said Tamimi. He said Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus were "prophets for the Israelites sent by Allah as to usher in Islam." Asked about the Western Wall, Tamimi said the structure was a tying post for Muhammad's horse and that it is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque, even though the Wall predates the mosque by over 1,000 years. "The Western wall is the western wall of the Al Aqsa Mosque. It's where Prophet Muhammad tied his animal which took him from Mecca to Jerusalem to receive the revelations of Allah." The Kotel, or Western Wall, is an outer retaining wall of the Temple Mount that survived the destruction of the Second Temple and still stands today in Jerusalem. Tamimi went on to claim to WND the Al Aqsa Mosque, which has sprung multiple leaks and has had to be repainted several times, was built by angels. "Al Aqsa was build by the angels forty years after the building of Al-Haram in Mecca. This we have no doubt is true," he said. The First Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century BC It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515BC after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in AD70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries. The Temple was the center of religious worship for ancient Israelites. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God's presence dwelt. All biblical holidays centered on worship at the Temple. The Temples served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place for Israelites. According to the Talmud, the world was created from the foundation stone of the Temple Mount. It's believed to be the biblical Mount Moriah, the location where Abraham fulfilled God's test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Temple Mount has remained a focal point for Jewish services for thousands of years. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed in about 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark what Muslims came to believe was the place at which Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven to receive revelations from Allah. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. It is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible 656 times. Muslims worldwide pray with their backs away from the Temple Mount and toward Mecca. According to research by Israeli Author Shmuel Berkovits, Islam historically disregarded Jerusalem. Berkovits points out in his new book, "How dreadful is this place!" that Muhammad was said to loathe Jerusalem and what it stood for. He wrote Muhammad made a point of eliminating pagan sites of worship, and sanctifying only one place, the Kaaba in Mecca, to signify the unity of God. As late as the 14th century, Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya, whose writings influenced the Wahhabi movement in Arabia, ruled that sacred Islamic sites are to be found only in the Arabian Peninsula, and that "in Jerusalem, there is not a place one calls sacred.
(Criminal and terrorist Zionist regime has reached the end of its work, Iranian president tells foreign guests marking 19th anniversary of death of country's late revolutionary leader. 'Satanic power' of United States faces destruction, he adds)
June 2….(YNET) Iran's president said on Monday Israel would soon disappear off the map and that the "satanic power" of the United States faced destruction, in his latest verbal attack on the Islamic Republic's arch-foes. Ahmadinejad spoke at a gathering of foreign guests marking this week's 19th anniversary of the death of Iran's late revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. "You should know that the criminal and terrorist Zionist regime which has 60 years of plundering, aggression and crimes in its file has reached the end of its work and will soon disappear off the geographical scene," he said. Turning to the United States, he said the era of decline and destruction of its "satanic power" had begun and added: "The bell on the countdown of the destruction of the empire of power and wealth has begun to ring." The United States, which severed ties with Iran shortly after its 1979 Islamic revolution, is leading efforts to isolate Tehran over its disputed nuclear program. Some analysts have speculated that Israel might attack Iran to stop its nuclear activities, which the West fears are a front for weapons development. Iran, which does not recognize Israel, insists it wants nuclear technology only for electricity. Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, says it has developed ballistic missiles able to hit Israel and US bases in the region.
June 2….(IsraelNN.com) Lovers of Jerusalem around the world are celebrating the 41st anniversary of the reunification of the holy city during the Six Day War. The central event in the capital will be the traditional Rikudgalim, Flag Dance March, towards the Old City. Girls begin at Independence Park, between Ben Yehuda and Agron Streets, and boys will set out from Sacher Park, a bit further to the west. Thousands of youths are expected to take part, marching and singing with flags of Israel. The day commemorates the miraculous liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem, just days after several Arab armies threatened to wipe the State of Israel off the map. Weeks of trepidation and tension suddenly gave way to celebration and thanksgiving. When the borders of the State of Israel were drawn by the UN Partition Plan of 1947, and were later revamped in 1949 following the War of Independence, the joy of Jews around the world at the establishment of the first Jewish state in the Land of Israel in nearly 1,900 years was dampened by the fact that the holy sites of Jerusalem, particularly the Temple Mount, were left out. The continued longing for Jerusalem was expressed, for instance, by Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, the head of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav. Speaking to his students on Independence Day of 1967, just weeks before the Six Day War, he seemed to be gripped by prophecy when he cried out, "Where is our Hevron? Have we forgotten it? And where is our Shechem (Nablus)? Have we forgotten it? And where is our Jericho? Have we forgotten it? And where is all the rest of the Land of Israel? Where are all the pieces of G-d's Land? Do we have the right to give up even one millimeter? Heaven forbid. Three weeks and two days after the rabbi's emotional cry, Hevron, Jericho, Shechem and Jerusalem were once again in Jewish hands. The continued longing for Jerusalem before 1967 was expressed on another level by Naomi Shemer, in her famous song "Jerusalem of Gold" The original lyrics read, "The city that sits solitary, and in its midst, a wall... How the cisterns have dried, the market-place is empty, and no one frequents the Temple Mount, in the Old City... Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light, Behold I am a violin for all your songs..." Just a few months later, she was able to add these lyrics as the final stanza: "We have returned to the cisterns, To the market and to the market-place, A ram's horn (shofar) calls out (i.e. is being heard) on the Temple Mount, In the Old City." The song Jerusalem of Gold became Israel's unofficial national anthem, sung in joy at every opportunity.
June 1….(DEBKA) DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps have created a separate missile command, in which Syria’s missile force is to be integrated. The joint command was formalized in a new mutual defense treaty signed by the Syrian defense minister, Gen. Hassan Turkmani in Tehran last week. Israeli military sources judge the operational merger of Iranian and Syrian missile corps to be a major strategic hazard to the Jewish State. Western and Israeli military experts connect it with other indications that Iran’s program for developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear payloads has gone into high gear and reached an advanced stage. They believe the Iranians have beaten most of the technical difficulties holding it up. On May 26, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, which often goes easy on Iran, released a harsh report confirming Iran’s progress in “missile warhead design.” The new missile command was cautiously announced last week by the IRGC commander, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari. He said: “An independent command might be created in Sepah (IRGC) in order to fortify the structure and activities of the missile section.” DEBKAfile’s Iranians sources explain Jafar’s cautious language on three grounds:
1. He was preparing Iran’s population and the Arab world for a pretty portentous development.
2. He was at pains not to put off figures in the West who argue strongly in favor of unconditional talks with Tehran over its nuclear misdeeds. He counted on those advocates shouting down the Western strategists who would appreciate the startling significance of the separate command.
3. Tehran also views Syria’s co-option and the new mutual defense treaty as a sort of guarantee that Assad’s “peace talks” with Israel will in no way detract from his military and other commitments to Iran.
DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources disclose that the details of the combined command were worked out ahead of the Syrian defense minister’s talks in Tehran: It was agreed that Syria’s missile units would come under the new independent Iranian missile section and their operations would be fully coordinated with Tehran. Iranian officers are to be attached to Syrian units and Syrian officers posted to the Iranian command. In the interim, Hizballah’s rise to power in Beirut has brought Lebanon into the shared Syrian-Iranian orbit. This development has enabled Tehran to line up a row of missiles deployments of varying strengths from Iran, Syria and Lebanon and up to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, a missile array never before seen in the Middle East and a strategic menace most of Israel’s security leaders rate unacceptable. Military experts comment that Tehran’s centralized control of four hostile missile fronts will virtually neutralize the American and Israeli anti-missile defense systems in the region; the Arrow and the Patriot missile interceptors could handle incoming missiles from one or maybe two directions, but not four. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Israel’s armed forces have been working overtime, against repeated holdups, to get the third Arrow battery installed. It is to be deployed in northern Israel as a shield against Syrian ballistic missiles and Iranian missiles stationed in Syria. The formation of the joint Iranian-Syrian missile command has slowed the project down. It calls for modifications in the Arrow’s deployment to meet the fresh challenge and a time-consuming study by US and Israeli intelligence specialists of how the new command structure functions. Western military sources doubt the Arrow system will be up and running by this summer, a period considered critical by military observers. They discount as over-optimistic recent claims by Israeli officials that the new Iron Dome will be ready for operational testing against short-range missiles in the next year or two. In a related development, DEBKAfile’s Gulf sources report that next week, Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Syrian president Bashar Assad launch a major campaign to further isolate American influence and bludgeon moderate Arab governments into alignment with their extreme anti-US, anti-Israel line. Assad sets out Sunday, June 1, for the United Arab Emirates for talks with Sheikh KHalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi. Tuesday, he spends two days in Kuwait. The visits were set up by the Qatar ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who spent Friday, May 30, in Assad’s palace, gathering compliments for the Doha accord he mediated which solved Lebanon’s political crisis by installing a national unity government in Beirut dominated by Hizballah. The Qatari ruler, Assad and Khamenei have joined forces to use the Lebanon accord as an object lesson to teach Arab governments that they do not need the United States or Saudi Arabia to help them manage their problems. This message was relayed in Iran foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s arrogant statement in Stockholm Friday. He said: “The United States of America needs a serious review of its foreign policy towards the Middle East. These policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and generally speaking in the Middle East are mistaken policies.” DEBKAfile’s political sources point out that these reverses are piling up against the United States and Israel at the worst time possible: both governments are hobbled, Washington in the dying days of the Bush administration, and Israel, by the grave corruption allegations against prime minister Ehud Olmert which have placed him and the other two senior policy-makers, the defense and foreign ministers, at loggerheads.
Obama Finally Leaves Controversial Church
(After defending, denouncing controversial sermons, 'deeply disappointed' candidate departs)
June 1….(WND) The Barack Obama campaign announced today the Democrat presidential candidate has resigned his 20-year membership in his controversial Chicago church. The decision follows nearly two months of the campaign being battered by showings of videotaped sermons from the former head pastor, Jeremiah Wright, that injected themes of anti-Americanism and racism into the campaign, as well as a controversial sermon preached last Sunday by a visiting Catholic priest that attacked Hillary Clinton. WND broke the story of Chicago Catholic priest Michael Pfleger's sermon Sunday at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ, in which he implied Clinton was a white supremacist who believed she would win the nomination because of "white entitlement." Pfleger, during his sermon, mocked Hillary Clinton for crying prior to the New Hampshire primary, implying to congregants the reason for her tears was that she was a white supremacist who believed she would win the nomination because of "white entitlement." Pfleger told the Trinity congregation, "We must be honest enough to expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head." He continued: "Reverand Moss, when Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don't believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought, 'This is mine. I'm Bill's wife. I'm white. And this is mine. I just got to get up and step into the plate.' "And then out of nowhere came, hey, I'm Barack Obama. And she said, 'Oh damn, where did you come from? I'm white. I'm entitled. There's a black man stealing my show.'" Pfleger then mimicked Clinton crying as the audience erupted into applause and gave Pfleger's remarks a standing ovation. Clinton has become emotional during several interviews this year, and some media commentators have questioned her sincerity. In his only public appearance yesterday, Obama did not mention Pfleger during a speech in Great Falls, Mont. A statement from his campaign Thursday said Obama was "deeply disappointed" by the priest's "divisive, backward-looking rhetoric." Thursday, the Obama campaign removed a testimonial by Pfleger from its campaign website. Pflegler, like Wright is a long-time close associate and spiritual adviser to the Democrat candidate. Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs said Obama had submitted his letter of resignation to the church in advance of meeting with reporters. At a Saturday afternoon news conference, Obama told reporters he and his wife, Michele, had not made the decision to leave Trinity Church lightly because of their long history at the church. After discussion, prayer and consultation with friends and family at the church, the decision was made with "some sadness," he said. As candidate for president, Obama said, he realized he was going to have to answer every comment made from the pulpit by the current pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, or visiting pastors. Further, the campaign was adversely affecting the church. Obama said reporters had harassed members at their homes and workplaces, even using the church bulletin to contact sick members for comments. When asked by a reporter how he would avoid the problem when he joined another church, Obama said he had not answered the question for himself yet. He noted that he does not expect to always agree with the pastor but that if he heard statements from the pulpit against homosexuality, he would strongly disagree. Pfleger, an early supporter of Obama who leads a mostly black Chicago parish, has hosted Farrakhan a number of times. The June/July 2007 issue of Wright's Trumpet magazine describes Pfleger as "Afrocentric to the core." Obama identified Pfleger in a 2004 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times as a key source of spiritual guidance. The Sun-Times piece, which was among the first in which Obama outlined his faith, includes quotes from Pfleger praising Obama.
June 1….(Israel Insider) Taking advantage of a weekend media dead-zone, Sen. Barack Obama said Saturday that "with some sadness" he has quit the Trinity Church where he belonged some twenty years, where controversial sermons by his former pastor and now other ministers has proved politically embarrassing for his campaign. "We don't want to have to answer for everything that's stated in the church," the Democratic front-runner said. "We also don't want the church subjected to the scrutiny that a presidential campaign legitimately undergoes, adding that "This is not a decision I come to lightly." The resignation comes days after the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a visiting Catholic priest, mocked Obama's Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, during a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinois. Obama said the Pfleger controversy made it clear that, as long as he remained a member of the Trinity congregation, remarks from the pulpit would be "imputed" to him, even if they conflicted with his personal views. Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, began discussing a departure from the church after Wright spoke at the National Press Club on April 28. During the appearance, Wright said that Obama had "distanced" himself the fiery pastor for political reasons. Now, it appears, Obama has distanced himself from the Church where he and his family sat under Pastor Wright for some twenty years. Obama said he and his wife had discussed and prayed on the issue with Trinity's senior pastor, the Rev. Otis Moss, and hoped that the decision would withdraw Trinity from the spotlight. "
(Candidate would cut nation's vital defense dollars)
June 1….(WorldNetDaily) An organization dedicated to the mission of protecting and defending individual freedoms and rights under the US Constitution is criticizing presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama for promising to cut, and possibly gut, US military defense spending. The Center for Individual Freedom a non-partisan, non-profit, has posted one version of a YouTube video of Obama "inexplicably" pledging" to "unilaterally jeopardize American military superiority." The organization said the Obama video, which originally was posted online by BarackObamadotcom in late 2007 but has been reproduced in other versions too, he tells an audience at a group called Caucus4Priorities he would cut "tens of billions of dollars" in spending. This would come at a time "when our armed forces are already stretched and in need of new weapon technologies and armor," said CFIF. He also guarantees he will "cut investments in unproven missile defense systems," and he "will not weaponize space," and that "unnecessary" spending will be eliminated. "Most alarmingly, however, Sen. Obama literally promises to 'slow development of future combat systems,'" CFIF said. "Think about the frightening implications of this pledge for a moment. "Future combat systems are the cornerstone of American military modernization and superiority. As America fights the war on terror and deters potential military aggression by rogue nations cross the world, advanced combat systems provide us with better equipment, unmatched situational awareness and communication systems that result in American battlefield domination. Other ascendant nations such as China and Russia seek to match our prowess, but we continue to outpace them," CFIF said. It cited new satellite technology that "allows us to pinpoint and eliminate the enemy, unmanned drones that promise amazing advances in battlefield safety and effectiveness, bunker-buster weapons that penetrate deep into the caves in which remote terrorists hide and communications systems that allow lightning-quick troop deployment and rescue missions." "They ultimately protect the lives and health of our troops, just as they protect us," CFIF said. "Despite this, Sen. Obama bizarrely pledges to jeopardize our battlefield superiority." The group cited the nation's stealth aircraft, which penetrated Saddam Hussein's air defenses, precision-guided weaponry that has reduced harm to non-combatants and the Strategic Defense Initiative, "which forced Mikhail Gorbachev's negotiating hand and helped end the Cold War." Obama uses the speech to emphasize that he is "the only major candidate who opposed this war from the beginning." He says:
Thanks so much
for the Caucus4Priorities, for the great work you've been doing. As president, I
will end misguided defense policies and stand with Caucus4Priorities in fighting
special interests in Washington. First, I'll stop spending $9 billion a month in
Iraq. I'm the only major candidate who opposed this war from the beginning. And
as president I will end it. Second, I will cut tens of billions of dollars in
wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I
will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems.
And I will institute an independent "Defense Priorities Board" to ensure that the Quadrennial Defense Review is not used to justify unnecessary spending. Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons; I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material; and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals. It seems that Obama would return America to the Jimmy Carter agenda of undermining our military forces."
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