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

coming years.

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

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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: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.