Jerusalem – Preparations for U.S. President George Bush’s visit are going into high gear, as Jerusalem police were deployed at one level below war alert starting yesterday morning.
The Jerusalem municipality is also completing its preparations for the visit, and more than 1,500 Israeli, U.S., and Jerusalem municipal flags have been hung throughout the capital. In addition, construction work has been carried out to fix the main streets. In order to alleviate the anticipated traffic jams, the municipality has prepared a helicopter pad at a nearby stadium to keep the major route between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to be continuously.
During the three-day visit, the sixth floor of the municipality of Jerusalem building will be closed. The administration rooms will be used as communication rooms, and the media that will come to Jerusalem will have available to them advanced broadcast positions, quick internet connection points and places to conduct interviews.
OLMERT AND ABBAS PREPARE FOR BUSH VISIT TOGETHER
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority leader
Machmud Abbas met on Tuesday for the first time since making their joint statement
in Annapolis, to discuss the framework for negotiating the Bush visit and
the permanent issues on the table: borders, the status of Jerusalem and the question of the refugees.
One high-ranking Israeli political official said that the discussion about the core
issues would not go as far as debating Israel’s negotiating positions
but, rather, would focus on the establishment of joint work teams that
are to discuss these sensitive issues in the course of the coming number
of months with the purpose of reaching an agreement by the end of the
year, in keeping with Mr. Bush’s statement.
Senior US administration officials, including Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, have made it clear to the political echelon in Israel
that Mr Bush is insistent that the parties show progress in the
course of his visit to Israel and the territories, and that the
president was worried about the possibility of being disgraced by the
fact that nothing had been done in the month and a half since the
Annapolis conference to see his vision implemented.
ISRAELI SECURITY OFFICIALS CONCERNED ABOUT BUSH ARMING SAUDIS
Israeli security officials are concerned that during Mr. Bush’s visit to the Middle East,
a huge weapons deal will be signed with Saudi Arabia.
In exchange for $30 billion, the Saudis could obtain the most advanced equipment
such as smart bombs, Patriot missiles and state of the art F-35 combat
planes from Mr. Bush.
The US has great interest in a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia and the
neighboring United Arab Emirates, as this would be very profitable, and
because the UAE pays for the weapons they purchase with their own
money, unlike Israel and Egypt, which use aid funds. In addition, the US
wishes to strengthen countries that are identified with it, as a
counterweight to Iran’s constant strengthening.
The weapons, at a cost greater than Israel’s entire defense budget
over a period of three years, are supposed to guarantee, from the perspective
of Americans, the continued existence of the countries that provide
them with oil, even after the expected withdrawal from Iraq in
Iin addition to aerial defense systems based on more advanced Patriot systems than those
presently in the service of Israel, very accurate medium range
air-to-air missiles, called AMRAAM missiles, and advanced warships would be part of the deal . The
weapons are supposed to arrive in the Persian Gulf states in the course
of the next ten to fifteen years. In light of Israel’s serious concern, the
subject is expected to come up during Mr. Bush’s visit to Israel.
“Israel must insist that geographical restrictions be imposed on the
new weapons,” said Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member MK Yuval
Steinitz. “This is the absolute minimum, as it is no longer possible to
prevent the entire deal.”
©The Bulletin 2008