Jerusalem – Yesterday, following the weekly Israel government cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dispatched cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel and his official spokesman Yaakov Galanati to brief the press about the steps that will lead to the Annapolis Middle East Summit on Nov. 26.

Mr. Olmert’s spokespeople emphasized that the Israeli government did not expect to reach any agreement with the Palestinians at the summit and that that the “only thing that would happen there would be declarations,” adding that “Israel will announce its recognition of a Palestinian Arab national state alongside an Israeli Jewish national state, with Israel formally accepting the road map.”

That road map was presented in May 2003 by then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to Israel and the Palestinians and adopted by the Israeli cabinet under then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

As a reminder, the Israeli government had added to its acceptance of the road map a statement that “in the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Al-Aksa Brigades and other apparatuses) and their infrastructure; collection of all illegal weapons and their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area and destroyed; cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority; activation of the full prevention apparatus and cessation of incitement. … There will be no progress to the second phase without the fulfillment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the war against terror.”

These conditions are missing in Mr. Olmert’s acceptance of the road map. In other words, the Olmert administration plans to use the Annapolis Middle East Summit to announce to the world that it will recognize an independent, sovereign and armed foreign nation state without a prerequisite that the Palestinian leadership dismantle terrorist organizations.

The Bulletin asked specifically if the Israeli government would demand that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would be required to dismantle the Al Aksa Brigades of the Fatah organization.

The answer was that the Israeli government had not taken a stand on that subject.

The Bulletin also asked Mr. Olmert’s cabinet secretary if the Israeli government would ask that Mr. Abbas order the cancellation of the Palestinian educational curriculum that is based on Israel’s destruction.

The answer was that the Israeli government had not taken a stand on that subject.

The precedent of Israel allowing a terror entity in its midst is exemplified by the situation in Gaza, where Israel now allows an Arab terrorist organization that rules Gaza to shell the entire southern region of Israel every day with only a tepid military response.

The Bulletin asked Mr. Olmert’s cabinet secretary what the response of the government was to this week’s shelling of Sderot and the Western Negev from Gaza.

His answer: “It was not discussed.”

Israeli Arabs Fight Against National Service

“Any Arab who performs national service in Israel is a leper,” said Member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka, the chairman of Balad, one of the Israeli Arab Knesset parliamentary factions, at a conference held in Haifa by the new “Coalition Against National Service in Israel.”

The conference represents a new public campaign that has been organized by the Israeli Arab Supreme Monitoring Committee, which is the primary body that speaks for Muslim Israeli Arabs, who make up 18 percent of Israel’s population of 7 million people.

This campaign has been launched to fight a new Israeli cabinet decision to approve recruitment of Arabs into national service programs and to have that decision scuttled altogether.

The decision, which was approved a number of months ago, provides Arab citizens with a civilian alternative to military service. In return, volunteers will be entitled to a series of benefits that newly discharged soldiers also receive.

Yitzhak Herzog, Israel’s social affairs welfare minister, whose ministry is responsible for national service, authorized an Arab nonprofit organization to begin to recruit volunteers. Within a short period of time, more than 1,000 Israeli Arabs had registered for national service. “This solves for them the problem of the dual identity, when, on the on the one hand, they want to receive the benefits of newly discharged soldiers but, on the other, don’t want to enlist in the [Israeli Defense Force],” said Mr. Herzog.

However, Abed Anbatawi, a spokesman for the Israeli Arab Supreme Monitoring Committee, added: “We have rejected and we continue to reject outright civil service, since we see it as preparation for the enlistment of Arabs into military service.”

Mr. Zahalka also argued that national service would result in conditional citizenship and that having rights such as being accepted to a university or getting a job, would be made contingent. “We believe that rights are absolute; duties are relative. There are people who, for reasons of nationality or religion, need to be exempted from duties.” He said that he spoke in heated language “in order to create a public mood against national service so that Arabs would be ashamed to perform national service.”

Today, approximately 150 Muslim Arabs carry out voluntary national service in Israel. A few dozen more Arab Israeli citizens currently serve voluntarily in the Israeli military, while the Israeli military draft is mandatory for Israeli Bedouin, Druze and Ciracassian citizens.

Israel’s first prime minister and defense minister, David Ben-Gurion, who served in both capacities for most of Israel’s first 15 years, had established the precedent of not drafting Israeli Arab Muslims into any kind of national service for fear that they would not be able to serve in a cause against their Arab Muslim brethren.

©The Bulletin 2007


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.