Jerusalem – There is no operational cooperation between Israel and the U.S. regarding Iran, said senior Israeli security officials responding to world reports on the matter.
A senior Israeli security official noted that, in contrast to published reports, that Israel and the U.S. are not holding any operational talks related to a potential deployment vis-a-vis Iran. The subject is not on the agenda.
The senior security official said that the only subject the Americans are willing to talk about is Iraq. “They are prepared to talk only about three topics,” said one senior official, “Iraq, Iraq and Iraq.” As a result, Israel is carrying out its own situation assessment and the security establishment is preparing for any possible scenario in the coming years, without any coordination with Washington.
A special forum of the most senior and experienced politicians in Israel is monitoring and supervising all national activity connected to Iran’s growing power. The forum is made up of former prime ministers, defense ministers, foreign ministers and chairmen of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In addition to Prime Minister Olmert, Binyamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, Silvan Shalom, Yuval Steinitz, Tzahi Hanegbi, Otniel Schneller and others are members. The forum, which constitutes a sort of subcommittee of the Intelligence and Secret Services Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, convenes and hears strategic reports about everything connected to Israel’s activity in the matter. Not long ago, the prime minister gave a review to this forum.
Israel has a national file called the “Iran file,” in which all activity and material connected to the effort to block the Iranian nuclear program is concentrated. Thousands of people are engaged in this activity, said one source who is familiar with this matter.
Their activity relates to all types of possible efforts, on the diplomatic, political, economic, secret, and other levels. Minister Shimon Peres takes a very active part in the effort, and a significant part of his travels all over the world are devoted to attempts at international persuasion regarding the need to isolate Iran and increase sanctions. All the activity is coordinated by a special body and is under professional supervision and concentrated in Jerusalem.
Israel Freezes Out United Palestinian Government
The Israeli cabinet convened on Sunday for what was universally described as a “stormy” meeting about the possibility of future relations with the newly formed Palestinian unity government. The cabinet, adopting the line taken by Prime Minister Olmert, Foreign Minister Livni and Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, decided to boycott the new Palestinian government in its entirety. Moreover, the cabinet decided not to pursue peace talks with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and, instead, to restrict talks with him to security coordination and humanitarian affairs.
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman suggested a blacklist of Abu Mazen too and that Israel not maintain any contact with any official position holder in the Palestinian Authority.
While the overwhelming majority of cabinet ministers supported the first part of the decision to boycott all the Palestinian ministers, the decision to refrain from peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas was the subject of extensive debate prior to the voting. Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh both insisted that Israel ought to forge ahead in political talks with Abbas, even if that required skipping over the first phase of the road map, which demanded that the Palestinian Authority cease and desist from terrorism, in an attempt to reach a final status agreement.
Olmert replied that “Abu Mazen is incapable of delivering the goods on any matter we put to him, big or small. The platform of the Palestinian unity government constrains him and effectively allows him no flexibility.” Olmert, moreover, suggested that, in light of Abbas’s alleged weakness, holding negotiations now on the final status arrangement would end just as the negotiations that former prime minister Ehud Barak conducted at Camp David-with a renewal of the Intifada. “Failure in the negotiations will lead the sides into terrible bloodshed,” said Olmert.
The reaction to the establishment of the Palestinian unity government in other parts of the world has been less severe than in Israel. All other countries intend to maintain full relations with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and some European countries are contemplating whether they will now engage with cabinet minister from Fatah, such as Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr.
Norway has decided to dispatch its deputy foreign minister to meet with the Hamas leader, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, of Hamas, ending the political boycott of the Palestinian government. Palestinian ministers have launched a “diplomatic blitz” in an attempt to secure recognition from other governments around the world.
Meanwhile, United States National Security Adviser Steve Hadley said that the Bush administration will not hold talks with the PA until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist and renounces terror and violence.
However, Hadley said, the administration will continue its ties with PA Chairman Abu Mazen, saying that he is not part of the Palestinian government, even though he is the President who presides over that very government.
In an interview with CNN last night, Hadley said that the administration would monitor the statements made by the Palestinian government, as well as its actions. A senior political source said that Israel is pleased with the position of the U.S. national security adviser.
Another Revealing Poll Of Israeli Arabs
According to a new study that will be presented today at Haifa University as part of the first Haifa Conference for Social Responsibility, 49.7 percent of the Arab public in Israel justify the kidnapping of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev by Hezbollah.
The study also indicates that some 90 percent of the Israeli Arabs described the IDF bombings in Lebanon this past summer as war crimes.
Conversely, 48.2 percent of Israel’s Arab citizens justified the Hezbollah shelling of Israeli communities. According to the study, only 18.7 percent of the Israeli Arabs believe that going to war was justified, as opposed to 69.7 percent of Jews who believe this.
According to the researcher who conducted the study, Professor Sammy Smooha, dean of social sciences at Haifa University, these are surprising statistics. “The Israeli Arabs could have been expected to show more pro-Israeli attitudes, since the second Lebanon War did not include Palestinian involvement and the attacker was an organization that most Israeli Arabs do not support,” he explained.
Recently, the ruling establishment and the public in Egypt have been angry at Israel because of the possibility that IDF soldiers murdered Egyptian POWs during the Six Day War. Now, Israeli military historian Aryeh Yitzhaki wants to remind Egypt that they do not have an innocent reputation for their treatment of prisoners. He approached the Egyptian diplomatic delegation in Israel with a demand that they investigate the alleged murder of 110 Israeli POWs during the Yom Kippur war.
Yitzhaki, is demanding that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak set up a committee to investigate the alleged murder of 110 Israeli war prisoners taken captive by Egyptian troops during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Last Friday he sent a letter to the acting Egyptian ambassador in Israel asking that the incident be investigated. In his letter, Yitzhaki wrote that he was in the possession of testimony and detailed data regarding the murders.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindThe News.com.
©The Bulletin 2007