Jerusalem – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet with U.S. President George Bush at the White House in Washington in three weeks.
The focus of Olmert’s expected talks will be the Palestinian issue, against a backdrop of rising frustration in Washington over the fact that all of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s attempts to promote a dialogue between Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the core issues of the conflict remain deadlocked. Sources close to the prime minister say that Abbas has ceased to be a factor that influences events, with terror organizations ruling the roost in the Palestinian Authority.
Olmert and Bush also intend to discuss topics related to Syria, such as its continued involvement in arming Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as the circumstances under which Israel would open a discrete channel of negotiations with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Another matter to be discussed at the summit pertains to Iran’s efforts to attain nuclear capability.
Missile Attacks Continue
Six missiles were fired from Gaza on Thursday at Israeli communities, two of which hit Sderot and caused heavy damage to homes. No one was injured in these attacks, but fragments caused damage to a high-tension wire and blacked out a large part of the city. Israel’s security cabinet had convened on Wednesday to discuss the security situation in the south. Several ministers demanded to expand IDF activity in Gaza, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is said to have decided to continue the military activity in its present passive format.
British Academics Boycott Israel
The University and College Union in Britain, the largest umbrella organization of university academic staff in the U.K., called on Wednesday for an academic boycott of Israeli universities, due to alleged human rights violations against the Palestinians. This decision has evoked criticism on the part of Israeli academics and officials. Ben-Dror Yemini, editorial page editor of the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, attacked British academics for what he terms “hypocrisy,” due to the failure to come out against massacres and inhumane acts around the world. Education Minister Yuli Tamir, writing in Yediot Ahronot, criticized the boycott as a violation of academic freedom.
Senior Israeli cabinet Minister Yitzhak Herzog, who is in charge of special Israeli government ministry that addresses the battle against anti-Semitism, condemned in the strongest terms the decision of the British university lecturers association to impose a boycott on academic institutions in Israel. Herzog summoned British Ambassador Tom Phillips and delivered a protest against the step, saying it was “scandalous, discriminatory and one-sided, and shows total insensitivity to the history of the Jewish people.” Herzog said he was concerned by the fact that the decision had been adopted in a nation regarded as friendly to Israel. Herzog said the decision called for soul-searching on the part of all citizens of Britain.
Surprising Call For Arab League Deployment In Gaza
Two Members of Israel’s Knesset Parliament suggest that security control of the Gaza Strip be handed over to the Arab League.
Two Knesset Parliament members from the liberal Meretz political party, Avshalom Vilan and Zahava Gal-On, have been promoting a new initiative to deploy armed forces from the Arab League in Gaza, in order to quell the missile attacks from Gaza on Israel.
The idea that these two Knesset members have proposed is that this force would be deployed for two to five years, with the agreement of both Israel and the Palestinians. The force would play a key security role, to prevent smuggling from Sinai, while policing Gaza to prevent further missile attacks.
The two Meretz MKs have presented their proposal to senior Palestinians, including Finance Minister Salam Fayad, and to foreign ambassadors to Israel from Egypt, Jordan, European Union countries and the U.S.
The fly in the ointment : The Arab League has remained in an active state of war to decimate the state of Israel since Israel’s inception in 1948. The Bulletin called the Arab League office in Cairo to find out whether the Arab League state of war with Israel is still in effect, and received an immediate answer that, yes, the Arab League is still at war with Israel.
The Bulletin asked MK Vilan how he could suggest the deployment of an Arab League force in Gaza, given the fact that the Arab League is still at war with Israel. His response was that the Arab League would of course have to cancel that state of war in the context of the Arab peace initiative.
The question remains whether Vilan may have put the cart before the horse in the new Middle East peace initiative by inviting the military presence of the Arab League in Gaza, before it nullifies its state of war with Israel.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007