“The Annapolis Summit Has Begun”
Jerusalem – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived in the U.S. yesterday and said that Israel would take a positive view of Syrian participation in the Annapolis conference and negotiations with Syria after the conference if the conditions were ripe. Speaking to reporters on his plane before takeoff for the United States, Mr. Olmert said that the meeting in Annapolis would make it possible to begin comprehensive and in-depth negotiations with the Palestinians in order to realize the principle of two national states for two peoples. sraeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads Israel’s team for negotiations with the Palestinians, rejected an American request that she hold another round of talks with the Palestinians before the Annapolis conference in order to reach agreement on a joint statement, the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam reports. The paper reported that the Palestinians hoped that Washington would support their demand for a freeze on Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and for a timetable for the completion of negotiations.
In Washington, delegations from across the world continue to arrive for the Annapolis conference. The French News Agency reports from Riyadh that Washington proposed to the Arab countries that they come to the conference to set up a committee to monitor progress on the Palestinian issue and that another conference be held in January in Moscow. According to the report, issues related to Syria and Lebanon will also be raised at the conference. However, it is not yet clear whether Syria will send representatives to Annapolis. Lebanon will send a delegation in spite of opposition from Hezbollah. This was announced by the Lebanese minister for culture, Taek Methi.
The Israeli police have raised their level of alert to one degree below the highest, and this will remain in force until the end of the Annapolis conference.
The Syrian Factor
Syria had delayed its decision to participate in the Annapolis conference until the last moment, but that isn’t going to change the diplomatic import of this conference. Peace between Israel and Syria will not come from there, and it is very doubtful whether a breakthrough will be achieved through this channel. Over the past several days, the Syrians have been fighting to get the subject of the Golan Heights on the conference table despite the United States’ intention to leave it on the sidelines. From Damascus’s perspective, this is not a war over the Golan Heights but rather a war over its honor in which stronger powers – the United States and Israel – prefer to play in the Palestinian arena at the moment. Even if the Americans decide to give the Golan Heights a higher priority than they did, the Syrians will not go back home happy. At least not this week.
Mr. Olmert has hinted in closed talks that the negotiations with Syria could be renewed “in the very near future.”
High-ranking political sources predict that the negotiations with Syria will be renewed after the conference in Annapolis. They will be held with the blessing of the United States and perhaps even under the auspices of the U.S. administration.
The talks between Mr. Olmert and Syrian President Bashar Assad are being held through Turkish mediation. They have recently been renewed and were defined in closed talks by Mr. Olmert as a “serious matter.”
Israel’s former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said the release of hundreds of Fatah terrorists was a gesture toward the commencement of the Annapolis summit this week and also in the hope that Israel’s three kidnapped soldiers would be released.
Lt. Gen. Yaalon said, however, the gesture would prove to be an error, both in moral and in practical terms.
Lt. Gen. Yaalon said in an interview with Israeli Army Radio: “If this debate is conducted in a rational manner, we must not capitulate. Look, in the past we announced that we wouldn’t negotiate with kidnappers. That’s what stopped the kidnappings. The fact that we have been capitulating to kidnapping again and again and again has brought us more kidnappings.”
Lt. Gen. Yaalon said he suspected that Mr. Olmert was promoting diplomatic initiatives in order to divert attention from police investigations of his activities.
Senior security establishment officials warned on Saturday that the aftermath of the Annapolis conference could lead to a violent takeover by Hamas of Judea and Samaria and to a deterioration of the situation to the point of chaos. Assessments by security officials were given to members of the security cabinet during a meeting that dealt with the Annapolis conference’s ramifications for Israeli security.
Israeli intelligence official Yuval Diskin warned that the failure of the process could lead the international community to support the creation of a bi-national state in the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which would change the demographic balance of the region. The security cabinet ministers also heard surveys from the chief of staff and from the director of the IDF intelligence branch that presented a fairly gloomy prediction regarding the chance of a breakthrough with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas either at Annapolis or later. All the officials who offered their assessments cast Mr. Abbas as a leader whose operational ability was next to nil. Security officials shared the opinion that if Israel preserves the status quo, Mr. Abbas’ moderate regime will end.
Security officials said that while reaching an agreement with the Palestinians during Mr. Bush’s term is of paramount strategic significance for the state of Israel, a series of security principles must be preserved. Even if an agreement is reached, they said, it must not be implemented too quickly, since the Palestinians are not ready for that.
Although the Annapolis conference has not yet begun, that has not kept Hamas from threatening an escalation in the armed struggle against the “Zionist occupation” after its conclusion. Khaled Mashal, deputy director of Hamas’ political bureau, and his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzuk, said on Saturday that their organization would intensify the terror attacks against Israel immediately after the conference. “The stage that will come after the Annapolis conference will be an escalation in operations of armed resistance of all kinds and methods in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, against the Zionist occupation,” he said.
Mr. Abu Marzuk had harsh criticism for the Annapolis conference and also for Mr. Abbas, who is running to an arrangement with Israel that continues its “crimes” against the Palestinians. “While Abu Mazen meets with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and smiles for the reporters’ cameras, the occupation forces continue their aggression in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and continue padding the settlements and expropriating new land around Jerusalem, continue digging beneath the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and continue building the separation fence,” Mr. Abu Marzuk said, voicing his opposition to going to Annapolis.
Mr. Abu Marzuk predicted that Mr. Olmert would not give anything in principle to Mr. Abbas during the negotiations and that he “cannot carry out any measure connected with a final status arrangement such as a Palestinian state, Jerusalem, settlements and refugees.” Therefore, Mr. Abu Marzuk called upon all the Palestinians wherever they live to hold marches and rallies against the Annapolis conference and in favor of “adhering to the permanent national rights.”
While Mr. Abu Marzuk threatens terror attacks, his boss, Mr. Mashal, prefers to work in other channels in order to sabotage the Annapolis conference two days before it begins. The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported this morning that Mr. Mashal sent a letter to the leaders of Arab countries and to the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, calling for them to boycott the conference, which, in his opinion, constitutes “a free concession in exchange for nothing.”
The newspaper reports that some of the content of the letter that Mr. Mashal sent to the Arab leaders and to Mr. Moussa has to do with meetings that he held last week with a high-ranking Iranian official. In accordance with that, Mr. Mashal wrote in the letter that the conference comes within the framework of damage to Iran and preparations for military escalation against it.
Like his deputy, Mr. Mashal wrote in the letter that the Israeli government’s position regarding the final status topics and the interim status of the Palestinians has not changed. Mr. Mashal said that there is a “real danger” that threatens the final status topics connected with Jerusalem, the settlements, and the refugees’ right of return. Mr. Mashal added that the conference is taking place in the shadow of a “Palestinian split and unequal circumstances between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.” This is in addition to the absence of a Palestinian consensus.
The assertive message is directed at Mr. Abbas, even though he is not mentioned by name. Mr. Mashal wrote in the letter that no one has a national mandate to begin profound negotiations with Israel in light of the fact that objective data show no fundamental change in the positions of Israel or the United States, and because there is complete disregard of the Arab peace initiative.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Saturday: “The Annapolis conference is a step toward normalization with the Israeli enemy at the expense of the Palestinian people. At this conference only the Israeli and American plans will be discussed, and the Palestinians will have no solution. [Abbas] will return from the conference with no achievements.”
Today and tomorrow, Hamas will host a conference of terrorist organizations to protest against the Annapolis conference. The Hamas conference will be attended by representatives of the rejectionist organizations and heads of the big families in Gaza. “Nobody has the right to concede the Palestinians’ rights,” Mr. Barhoum said.
Has Bush Reneged On Firm Commitments To Israel?
In April 2004, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon informed the Israeli government that “there is American recognition that in any permanent status arrangement, there will be no return to the ’67 borders. This recognition is to be expressed in two ways: understanding that the facts that have been established in the large settlement blocs are such that they do not permit a withdrawal to the ’67 borders and implementation of the term ‘defensible borders.'”
Now there is a serious question about the exact standing of that Bush commitment to “defensible borders,” ever since Mr. Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice stated on November 13: “I believe that most Israelis are ready to leave most of the – nearly all of the West Bank, just as they were ready to leave Gaza for the sake of peace.” She said this even though public opinion polls actually show strong Israeli support for retaining strategic areas of the West Bank, like the Jordan Valley.
In that light, Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., has noted that “it’s critical for Israeli diplomacy to protect the Bush letter against those who seek to undercut and replace it with a new set of Israeli-Palestinian documents. Israelis have learned from their experience with Gaza what can happen to their most vital security interests if they are not safeguarded at the same time that far-reaching territorial concessions are made.”
Indeed, the speech that President Bush is expected to give in the basketball stadium at Annapolis will call for the establishment of a Palestinian state, an end to the occupation and an Israeli return to the 1967 lines, with a narrow opening for a land swap.
Expectations rose a little over the weekend, when the schedule for the conference was announced, and when it was learned that the country that everyone is trying to please, Saudi Arabia, was going to honor the conference with the high-level presence of its foreign minister.
However, whether Saudi Arabia will cancel its active state of war with Israel remains to be seen. The same goes for the Arab League, which has announced that it will attend the summit in Annapolis.
The Bulletin called the Arab League office in Cairo and asked if the Arab League was still maintaining its long standing state of war with Israel, which was declared on the day that Israel declared independence in 1948. The answer was affirmative.
©The Evening Bulletin 2007 ================================
“Saudi Initiative Expected To Influence Summit”
Annapolis, Md. – Israeli government sources said yesterday that a pair of high-level figures are warning the political echelon that the timetable Americans wish to dictate to the Israelis and the Palestinians – reaching a final status arrangement within a year – is dangerous to Israel.
At the Israeli security cabinet meeting that was held prior to the departure of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Annapolis, Israel General Security Services Director Yuval Diskin and Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin warned that Mahmoud Abbas (AKA Abu Mazen) is weak and not yet ready to implement a peace agreement with Israel, and that his ability to act is close to zero. They recommended to the political echelon to negotiate over the final status arrangement, but to see this as no more than a “shelf agreement,” the implementation of which would be postponed by several years until the Palestinian Authority proves that it is a partner.
Mr. Diskin and Maj. Gen. Yadlin recommended further to the political echelon to “buy as much time as possible” in the implementation of the first stage of the road map, meaning the war on terror, thereby enabling Abu Mazen and his supporters to establish themselves and gain strength. In addition, it was recommended that the government be sparing in making gestures, and refrain from transferring security responsibility to the Palestinians, since this will only serve as an obstacle for them.
May Be Recognized
Philadelphia journalist, Aaron Klein, the Israel bureau chief of WorldNetDaily.com (WND), says that his agency has obtained the document which will provide the basis for the Annapolis conference. Mr. Klein reported that, according to the document in his possession, “in exchange for Saudi Arabia attending this week’s U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian conference in Annapolis, the Israeli government agreed to recognize the importance of a Saudi-sponsored “peace initiative” in which the Jewish state is called upon to evacuate the strategic Golan Heights, the entire West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.
According to Mr. Klein, this document will presented at the Annapolis conference and to serve as an official outline of a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority
The wording is still being negotiated by both sides.
However, according to Israeli diplomatic sources, Israel agreed to a Saudi request that the declaration document include reference to a Saudi-backed Arab Peace Initiative, first presented in 2002 and reissued earlier this year at a meeting of the Arab League, an umbrella association of Mideast Arab states.
While Israel doesn’t commit itself to the Arab Initiative’s requirements, a clause in the current draft of the Israeli-Palestinian declaration slated for the Annapolis conference and obtained by WND reads: “We recognize the critical supporting role of Arab and Muslim states and the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Palestinian Curriculum Reviewed At Pre-Annapolis Briefing
A pre-Annapolis briefing was conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, dedicated to the research of school curricula and textbooks throughout the Middle East. Since its creation in 1998 it has researched school textbooks, teachers’ guides and syllabi used by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran.
The briefing was conducted by the Institute’s director, Dr. Yohanan Manor and by the Arabic language expert who translates the school books, Dr. Arnon Groiss.
The context of the briefing was that the PA has now completed its seven-year project of replacing textbooks that had been in use from Jordan and Egypt, in Judea & Samaria and Gaza respectively, with ones they have produced, with funding received from 14 nations, including the US.
This briefing constituted an overview of the material, with special emphasis on the new 11th and 12th grade books.
All of the PA texts have now been studied and translated by the Institute, under the supervision of Dr. Groiss. In all cases, assessment of material is based on 10 criteria established by UNESCO as well as two other factors: How is the `other’ perceived? And, does the education foster peace?
The conclusions, which are posted in great detail on the Institute’s Web site www.edume.org, are that:
* Jews are represented as foreigners without rights in the land. There are no Jewish holy places. For example, Rachel’s tomb is alluded to as “Bilal bin Rabbah Mosque.”
* Palestinian Arabs are seen as the only legitimate inhabitants of the land, descended from the Canaanites and Jebusites, who are said to be Arabs.
* When information is taught to Palestinian Arab children about the inhabitants of the land, Jews are excluded.
* Israel is not taught as a legitimate state. Israel is presented to a new generation of Palestinian Arab school children as a Zionist, imperialist, western, racist usurper.
* “Israel” is omitted from all Palestinian political maps. One book did reproduce two Israeli maps. When Israel must be alluded to in the Palestinian Arab classroom, alternative terms are used, such as “pre-1948 lands.”
From Modern History of Palestine, Grade 11, 2006:
“The green line is an imaginary line separating land occupied before 1967 and land occupied after.”
* Palestine is presented as an existing sovereign state, established in 1988.
* Jews are demonized, seen as a hostile enemy, and as the source of all evils in the Palestinian society, e.g., cause of drug addiction. Twenty-five crimes against the Palestinians are enumerated in the Palestinian classroom.
* Individual Jews are never mentioned, and the humanity of the Jews is lost.
* The fabricated, anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was represented in a text as factual. When representatives of Belgium, which underwrote production of this book, were informed they protested and a new version of the book, omitting the “Protocols” was published. However, the old version is the only version available in Palestinian Authority bookstores and there is no evidence that the new version is actually in use in the schools.
* Praise of jihad and martyrdom remains another aspect of the Palestinian curriculum.
* As an integral part of the Palestinian curriculum, armed groups are celebrated.
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
“Power Shift To Palestinians?”
Annapolis, MD. – Hundreds of reporters arrived at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis from around the U.S., and, indeed, from around the world yesterday, in order to cover a one-day Middle East summit, which kicked off a new negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Fifty nations were invited to witness the process. After exhaustive security checks, reporters were ushered into the U.S. Naval Academy basketball stadium, where they waited two hours to cast their eyes on a large scale screen to watch and observe U.S. President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas give speeches, launching negotiations that will continue on a bi-weekly basis throughout the year 2008, as they exchanged platitudes of peace.
Mr. Bush set the tone and framework for negotiations, saying that Mssrs. Abbas and Olmert would conduct biweekly negotiations beginning on December 12th.
Where there are disputes, Mr. Bush declared, the U.S. would be the “judge” to correct the conflicts.
The president invoked the “road map” of April 30th, 2003, specifically mentioning the precise date and guiding spirit of the negotiations. Bush’s mention of April 30th conveyed a subtle message to the Israeli government, which had added 14 reservations on May 25th, 2003., almost all of which demanded that the Palestinian Authority(PA) take full responsibility to disarm all terror groups before proceeding with negotiations.In other words, Mr. Bush was asking Israel to negotiate with the PA, come what may, by invoking the road map of April 30 rather than the road map that Israel had ratified on May 25, with strings attached.
In order to do some reality testing, The Bulletin asked U.S. State Department officials present at the basketball stadium if Mr. Abbas would indeed be required to disarm and disband the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist organization which remains an integral part of the Fatah, which continues terror actions unabated. U.S. State Department officials would not answer the question, even though the Al Aksa Brigades remains on the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations.
Concerning another major issue where the U.S. would be “the judge” of matters in dispute, The Bulletin asked U.S. State Department officials what their position was concerning the Palestinian school curriculum, which the Israel Ministry of Defense had concluded were rife with anti-Semitic incitement and which erased Israel from the map and denied any connection of Jews or Judaism to the land of Israel.
U.S. State Department officials looked into the matter and said that they had taken no stand on the issue.
However, USAID, a powerful arm of U.S. foreign policy which renders financial assistance to the PA and to other foreign entities, has recently distributed a report on Capitol Hill which asserted that the PA had deleted such incitement from their curriculum.
Hence, U.S. “judgment” on such crucial policy differences between Israel and the Palestinians show that the U.S. can easily ignore facts on the ground and simply expedite the Palestinian position.
At the stadium, reporters were not allowed to publicly air any questions of Messrs. Abbas, Olmert or Bush. After the screen rolled up, reporters busied themselves with details of what they had seen and heard. Not one reporter raised a question as to why no public questions were permitted.
Majority Of Palestinians Against Israeli Sovereignty Over Western Wall
On the morning of the Middle East Summit in Annapolis, 72.5 percent of Palestinian are opposed to Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall in any peace agreement. Only 18.7 percent would support such an arrangement.
This is shown by a new public opinion poll conducted by Dr. Elias Kukali among Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza between October 27 and November 6.
The poll found that 52.7 percent of Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are opposed to having Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. To the proposal that there be Palestinian sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem while there is Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods, 40.6 percent responded favorably.
The poll also shows that a majority of Palestinians – 68.2 percent – are opposed to any concession on the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and to limit their return to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Only 23.5 percent agreed to the proposal to establish a compensation fund and to absorb the refugees in the future Palestinian state; 72.2 percent of Judea and Samaria residents and 77.3 percent of Gaza Strip residents are opposed to the idea of a land swap in which settlements would be annexed to Israel in return for alternative territory.
The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.
It questioned 1,200 Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Army Reservists: ‘Don’t Give The Palestinians Weapons’
Also on the morning of the Middle East Summit in Annapolis, 50 combatants from the elite Israeli Defense Forces Alexandroni Brigade, many of them former Golani Brigade soldiers, on Monday sent a letter to the government asking that Israel not give armored vehicles and ammunition to the Palestinians.
These combat soldiers had gone through a week of training before going on duty.
The reservists, who lost some of their comrades in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Defensive Shield, were furious when they heard that they would be given orders to transfer armored vehicle and millions of bullets to the Palestinian Authority.
They gathered in a tent, and with the light of a dim lamp, wrote a letter, demanding Mr. Olmert halt the planned weapons shipment: “We, soldiers in a reserve battalion, are at this time training in southern Israel before going on duty in Samaria,” the letter states. “We ask you, at the last minute, and call on you to halt the convoy of APCs and ammunition to the Palestinians. We have no doubt that the ammunition and the APCs will be aimed against us, against our friends and against the citizens of the state, just as were the weapons given to the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords. It is not enough that the government approved recently releasing hundreds of terrorists, now it is also arming them.”
The letter is signed by 50 combatants, including the battalion commander and the deputy battalion commander, and was sent by fax to the Prime Minister’s Bureau.
Israel TV: U.S. Ambassador Pressures Chief Justice Of Israel Supreme Court
Israel Commercial TV Channel Two broke the story last night that the Chief Justice of the Israel Supreme Court President Judge Dorit Beinish was approached for a sensitive and unusual meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones.
According to the report, the two discussed political issues, mainly the route of the 1949-1967 armistice line and the construction in Judea and Samaria, which has been suspended for a long time already.
The meeting was held against the sensitive backdrop of the preparations for the Annapolis conference.
Attorney Yossi Fuchs from the Israel Legal Forum watchdog group said that “If it becomes evident that President Beinish discussed issues of the ‘settlements’ and the separation fence with the American ambassador, that constitutes crossing of a red line, an egregious blow to the principle of the separation of power and creates the fear that she will now preside over those issues after having heard one side, while donning a semblance of impartiality.”
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
“Annapolis Analysis: Trap For Israeli Defense Forces”
Annapolis, Md. – Israeli military sources confirm that the declaration at Annapolis on beginning to work for a permanent status arrangement – with target dates, puts the Israeli security establishment in a nearly intolerable situation.
Israel will have to maneuver between momentum in the peace process, which means taking measured military steps, and a serious security crisis, including expecting a series of terror attacks and attempts to sabotage the peace process, the sources said.
In the first stage, the “big” military operation in the Gaza Strip, meant to undermine Hamas’ regime, is being pushed off, apparently to an unknown date.
December 12 is the date to begin talks on the permanent status arrangement, meaning there would be no operation. People in Israel who were sure after Annapolis they would be free of constraint and could act in the Gaza Strip, were proven wrong. The people in Sderot and the Western Negev who had believed the IDF would put an end to the daily terror of mortar fire will, apparently, be disappointed.
In addition, winter is coming. And if the IDF we don’t absolutely have to, they do not go to battle in stormy weather.
On one thing all the security officials agree: In Annapolis, the State of Israel closed a deal with someone who cannot deliver.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Mahmoud Abbas (AKA Abu Mazen), is linked to two life-support machines: international legitimacy that it receives for its existence, and an Israeli monopoly on security in the West Bank.
Remove Israeli force and the PA dies. It was no coincidence that Abu Mazen did not mention in his Annapolis speech that he asked for expanded authority. He knows that he can’t. Also in the course of the talks that preceded Annapolis, the Palestinians did not have excessive demands regarding security, except for removing roadblocks, enlarging the circle of Fatah wanted men that Israel should stop pursuing, and a bit of weapons and armored vehicles.
To help build the Palestinian power base, the Americans plan to establish a steering committee headed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, General Dayton and a political envoy of President Bush, to supervise the establishment of the security, governmental and economic institutions of the PA and to monitor the implementation of the first stage of the road map. The stage that includes PA action against terror. The Americans will have to invest a great deal of money and time until they are able to see a loyal and effective military force.
The Israel security establishment believes that intensive work will be necessary, of at least one to two years to breathe life into this plan and bring it to a situation in which it can handle opposition on the ground. Any attempt to speed up the process and to give the PA security responsibility too early, say high-ranking security sources,will bring to the West Bank what is in Gaza: the build-up of a Hamas military force and high trajectory fire from the West Bank at Israel.
Did Israel’s Principles Of Negotiation Collapse In Annapolis?
The joint Annapolis statement between Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signalled a total deterioration of Israel’s stated negotiation positions a withdrawal from all the principles that had guided the government to the summit.
Mr. Olmert backed off from his opposition to any timetable for the negotiations. Now there is a date for the start of negotiations – December 12 – and there is a date for their completion: The end of 2008. In the current situation, Mr.Olmert will find it difficult to say that “there are no sacred dates.” Mr. Olmert has, instead, endorsed the time schedule.
Mr. Olmert backed off from the demand based on the road map, according to which the next stage of the agreement will only be implemented after the Palestinians fight terror. Now there is consent to a dialogue with a target date for establishing a Palestinian state, while terror continues. The Annapolis conference has buried what was nearly Ariel Sharon’s only achievement since the road map, of making Israeli steps contingent upon Palestinian action against terrorist organizations.
Mr. Olmert backed off from his opposition to international supervision of the agreement’s implementation. Nothing remains of the principle established by Yitzhak Rabin, which was maintained by all Israeli prime ministers, that only Israel would decide whether the Palestinian side had met its commitments. In the joint statement, it was stated explicitly that the U.S. would supervise the implementation of the road map clauses, and would judge and supervise the implementation of the clauses on the part of Israel and the Palestinians.
These clauses demand declarations on the part of the Palestinians, and irreversible actions on Israel’s part. Israel has committed itself to carrying out tangible steps such as a freeze on expanding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and in dismantling nearby outposts – matters that are measurable by nature,which can easily be proven whether they have been implemented or not.
Instead, Israel heard a dictate from Mr. Bush: Israel must “remove illegal settlement outposts and halt illegal construction”.
While the Palestinians have committed themselves again to fight terror. They can always kill off a terrorist or two and claim to have “fought terror.”
The meaning of the statement is that Israel will be under close supervision by the U.S. to carry out irreversible actions, while the Palestinians will not.
Mr. Bush, for the first time, talked about the Israeli “occupation,” when he said that the Israelis must show that they are willing to put an end to the occupation that began in 1967. Mr. Bush did not mention the letter to Mr. Sharon in which he agreed to recognize settlement blocs or the reality that has changed since 1967. Mr. Bush did not mention any issue in his speech that is of significance to Israel. For instance, he did not mention the rocket fire.
Olmert’s Situation: From Annapolis To
The Bank Leumi Affair
Last night, Mr. Olmert was set to fly back to Israel: The dozens of bodyguards, radio technicians and intelligence officials who accompany him on his trips abroad were to dismantle the forward command posts set up at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington and pack up the huge quantities of equipment brought here to take back to Israel.
From the meetings at the Oval Office and from the impressive appearance in the conference hall at Annapolis, Mr. Olmert will land today directly into the complex reality awaiting him at home: The announcement of the police’s decision whether to recommend that he be prosecuted in a Bank price-fixing scandal.
And so, Mr. Olmert cannot look forward to a single moment of satisfaction: If the police decided to recommend that he be prosecuted, even if the case is later closed at the decision of the state attorney, Mr. Olmert will have to face the recommendation and later on the other investigation cases. His critics on the Right will demand that he stop dealing with promoting the negotiations with the Palestinians. Others, his rivals in Kadima and Likud members, will search for the moment to end his term of office.
The question that will accompany him from now on is whether Mr. Olmert – not the negotiations – will reach the end of 2008 in the post of prime minister.
On To Iran
On Tuesday, Mr. Olmert held a confidential meeting with President Bush concerning the Iranian threat.
In the past few years, Israel and the U.S. have disagreed over the point of no return, after which Iran will possess the technology to produce a first nuclear bomb. Messrs. Olmert and Bush talked about the Iranian issue frequently, and the Iranian nuclear threat also came up at all the meetings between the two leaders in Washington.
In the coming weeks, Israel Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman is due to put on Mr. Olmert’s table a comprehensive position paper which is the first of its kind on Israeli policy on the nuclear threat, described by security officials as the only existential threat against Israel. In addition, Mr. Olmert and Mr. Bush are expected to also talk about the northern arena: Syria and Lebanon. According to an Israeli political official: “President Bush is totally in accord with the prime minister on the Syrian issue, and there is no pressure on Israel to resume negotiations on the Golan Heights.”
Islamic Jihad: ‘Autumn Storms’ Operation
In Response To
The Salah a-Din Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, announced on Tuesday that they are beginning a series of terror actions that will be called “autumn storms,” which will include rocket and mortar shell fire at Israeli residents, as a response to the conference in Annapolis.
Despite this lofty declaration, there was no significant increase on Tuesday in rocket and mortar shell fire. On Tuesday, three rockets and four mortar shells were fired at the Negev. One of the rockets landed between Kfar Gaza and Mifalsim. Mortar shells were also fired at Kerem Shalom.
In the wake of the fire, IAF helicopters attacked a position belonging to the Hamas Executive Force near Khan Yunis, hitting mortar shell launchers.
On Tuesday, IDF forces operated inside Palestinian territory in the northern Gaza Strip, in the Erez industrial zone area and in the southern Gaza Strip near Kerem Shalom. The troops entered the area to search for possible tunnels, in the wake of concern that Palestinian had dug tunnels under the border fence into Israel. In addition, forces are operating against rocket launchers. According to military sources, Golani, Armored Corps and engineering forces, with the aid of the IAF, are operating to block unending attempts at terror, and distance terrorists from the border fence.
©The Evening Bulletin 2007
“PA Official: Olmert Lying About Temple Mount”
Jerusalem -?Native Philadelphia journalist Aaron Klein, bureau chief of the World Net Daily bureau in Jerusalem, has revealed that the chief Palestinian negotiator claims that the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has agreed to forfeit Judaism’s holiest site to a coalition of Arab countries.
“What Olmert said (regarding the Mount) is absolutely false. I think he’s not yet ready to tell the Israeli public and is waiting for the right time and he fears his coalition with religious extremists will fall apart if he announces it now,” said a senior Palestinian negotiator on Thursday on the condition his name be withheld. The chief Palestinian negotiator said in months leading up to Annapolis the Palestinian team was “surprised” by Mr. Olmert’s willingness to give up the Temple Mount. According to the Palestinian source, Mr. Olmert agreed to evacuate the Mount but not to turn it over to the Palestinians alone. The negotiator said both sides agreed the Temple Mount would be given to joint Egypt, Jordan and Palestinian Authority control.
In a briefing to reporters in Annapolis, Mr. Olmert claimed Israel’s sovereignty over the Temple Mount is not up for discussion. He said negotiations started at the Annapolis summit had no bearing on the situation on the Temple Mount.
Increased Rocket, Mortar Fire From
Gaza Into Israel
During the past week, Palestinians fired over 70 mortar shells and over 25 Qassam rockets at Israeli communities in the Western Negev and at IDF forces operating in Gaza. Of these, approximately 35 mortar shells and 20 Qassam rockets landed in Israel.
Ground, armored and engineering forces, in coordination with the Air Force, operated against the terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in order to distance the terror organizations, in particular Hamas, from the security fence, and to prevent rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel.
The IDF carried out aerial and ground attacks during the past week and identified hitting five Palestinian terrorists involved in the firing of rocket and mortar shells at Israel from the southern Gaza. The IDF also identified hitting 15 Palestinian gunmen who were identified operating against IDF forces in the Gaza Strip and near the security fence, six of them in the past 24 hours.