Thursday, November 17, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, November 17, 2005

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November 17, 2005

[] I let some days go by during which I focused only on the "Rafah" agreement.
Yet, it seems not to matter with regard to several issues. We seem to be in a holding pattern that simply shifts a bit from day to day. After having sort-of indicated that he would stay in Likud, Sharon is now talking again about the possibility of leaving this party and starting another -- this because of his on-going discontent with the "rebels." The gov't hasn't been brought down, but it seems early elections will be set -- by the mutual agreement of Sharon and Peretz -- for late February or early March. The media commentators are still discussing the economic impact of Peretz's leadership. The right wing parties are still discussing, but have not achieved, unity.

[] With regard to the "Rafah" agreements, allowing greater latitude of passage to Palestinians, at a risk to Israel: Isracast reports that "Mofaz concluded that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would now face the test on preventing the terrorists from exploiting the new measures that grants the Palestinians greater mobility."

Here we have a sterling example of the unrealistic (actually, ludicrous) and dangerous approach of the Israeli gov't with regard to all of this. Mofaz acts as if he is now putting the onus on the PA to conduct itself properly. Fine and good, except past experience has taught us that Abbas is going to flunk the test because he does not clamp down on terrorists. We KNOW that terrorists are going to use this new freedom of passage to evil end. The only logical way to provide Abbas with a test would have been to tell him when he proves himself with regard to control of the terrorists, then we will agree to freer passage. As it is, Abbas flunks and Jews die.

According to Isracast, as well, Mofaz also told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that we will be getting live pictures of the passage at Rafah, as if this were reassurance. Is it a joke? According to the agreement, we can see the pictures but not stop those who are known terrorists from coming through if the PA opts to allow them to do so!

[] Significantly, an official Palestinian website (which can be found on IMRA at today declared:

"...the director of borders and crossings, Salim Abu Safiyyeh, asserted that there won't be any live video streams to the Israeli side via the surveillance cameras installed in Rafah terminal, pointing out that even the joint control room will not receive these live feeds, and will be only for the presence of the third party [the EU] that will monitor the borders."

This statement represents blatant disregard for the agreement. Doesn't take them long to renege, does it? Perhaps this quote needs to be sent to the State Department and the White House, not to speak of Mofaz. Can we say, per the comments above, that Abbas has already flunked the test?

[] Israeli President Moshe Katzav is in the Vatican and has met with the Pope Benedict XVI; Katsav extended an invitation to him to visit Israel, which has apparently been accepted. This visit was fraught with controversy here in Israel because of rumors that Katsav was going to sign papers giving the Vatican a part of David's Tomb on Mount Zion, recognized as the site of the Last Supper. No papers were signed -- as Katsav's office had assured they would not be -- but this issue is not closed. Rumors on the matter were so strong that investigations are still taking place, along with Jewish protests.

[] In defiance of PA orders forbidding public displays involving weapons (which order went into effect after an accident killed 25 two months ago when Hamas was celebrating with weaponry), members of Al Aksa Brigades and their supports, numbering in total some 1,000 people, marched in Gaza City today brandishing assault rifles and rocket launchers and declaring their right to bear arms against Israel.

[] A considerable controversy is brewing regarding the path of the security fence, which is scheduled to have its more southern section put up shortly. At issue right now is the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion. Seems the fence is supposed to enclose some of the settlements and not all. There is deep and serious concern that this will end up being a de facto border -- in spite of gov't claims that it is only a defensive measure -- and that those left out of the fence will be written off. Some are proposing that the entire bloc of settlements be left out, rather than seeing an action taken selectively to the disadvantage of some. It is -- G-d forbid -- very unlikely that all the settlements of Gush Etzion would be abandonned. In point of fact, NONE, should be abandonned.

This block of settlements was known as the southern gateway to Jerusalem in 1948, when it defended Jerusalem from the south, blocking the invading Jordan legion. The communities were wiped out then -- when Jordan won the area, and over 200 people were killed. After Israel took the region in 1967, the children of those original settlers went back to the area to rebuild. There are now 15 communities with a combined population of 20,000.

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