Jerusalem – “I propose to Syria and Hezbollah not to try us. Israel is still the strongest country within a 1,500-kilometer radius of Jerusalem,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in their closed meeting.

The Israel defense minister made it clear to the U.S. secretary of state that Israel would not take offensive activity by Syria or Hezbollah lying down. Mr. Barak’s statements were made in the wake of the buildup in Hezbollah’s strength in southern Lebanon in the past months, and combative statements issued by Damascus. The Israel security establishment is very concerned by Hezbollah’s renewed armament with long-range rockets and the fact that its storehouses have been filled by thousands of additional rockets. Hezbollah has also recruited thousands of additional fighters.

Senior Israeli security officials said that Syria was Hezbollah’s main ammunition supplier. On Friday, Alex Fishman reported in the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot that the Israeli security establishment believed that Syria was trying to obstruct the truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. According to these assessments, the Syrians are trying to divert the attention of the Arab world from events in Lebanon to the Palestinian issue.

Meanwhile, Mr. Barak approved Sunday night the plans for a national emergency exercise that will be held in about two weeks. The exercise, which will be led by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, will be held as part of the lessons drawn from the Second Lebanon War, and will include all government ministries and public organizations, such as municipalities and local councils, schools, the Home Front Command, Magen David Adom (the Israeli version of the Red Cross), fire-fighting services and more. It will start on Sunday and end on Thursday, and will simulate a variety of emergency situations and responses.

Rice Demands More Concessions From Israel

Ms. Rice is demanding gestures to the Palestinians before the U.S. president’s visit to Israel on Independence Day.

While the Israeli government has informed the U.S. government of the impossibility of reaching a signed permanent status arrangement by the end of 2008, sources close to Ms. Rice indicate that she is trying for an interim achievement that will allow her, and mainly President Bush, to present progress in the process that was launched last November at Annapolis, which in fact has not progressed since then in any significant manner.

Ms. Rice met with Israeli opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and asked him to meet with her on a regular basis to coordinate positions on peace issues. Mr. Netanyahu said at the meeting, “There are already Iranian bases in Gaza threatening the Negev, and there are already Iranian bases in northern Lebanon threatening us. We cannot allow Iranian terrorist bases in Judea and Samaria to also threaten Tel Aviv and the greater Tel Aviv area.”

As part of the security relief measures, which are described by the security establishment as “routine law and order” measures for the Palestinians, a permanent roadblock will be removed at Rimonim junction.

This refers to a roadblock on the Alon road, on a road that connects with Jericho. Removing the roadblock enables traffic from Ramallah to Jericho. IDF officials fear a reality of a terror attack in the Binyamin area, immediately after which the terrorists could escape to Jericho without any obstruction or roadblock.

Yesterday at noon, the Rimonim checkpoint was removed. At 5 p.m., a knife-wielding Palestinian student passed through the area where the checkpoint had been, sat at an Israeli bus stop, and tried to kill two young Israeli men who were waiting for a bus.

One of the Israeli men shot and killed the Palestinian, the first fatality of the measures taken by Israel to please Ms. Rice.

Incitement In Israeli Arab Demonstrations

Extreme statements, the likes of which have not been heard in recent years, were at the heart of protests conducted by Israeli Arabs on Sunday and yesterday.

Thousands of Israeli Arabs – including several dozen Druze residents of the Galilee – and Jewish left-wing activists, held a rally in the village Arabe in the western Galilee, in memory of six demonstrators who were killed by IDF soldiers in a demonstration in Sakhnin on March 30, 1976. An Israeli Arab group, known as “Sons of the Village,” chanted “Our Popular Front, we want a terror attack from you!” Similar calls were also heard against the Israeli government, while PLO and Hamas flags were raised.

The Chairman of the Israeli Arab Supreme Monitoring Committee Shawki Khatib inflamed the crowds by attacking the Israeli government and the Jewish public in his speech, calling them “racists and fascists. Extremist Jewish politicians compete over who can incite more against the Arab population. Racism is rampant everywhere, and there is an atmosphere of incitement against Arabs.”

Israeli Arab member of the Knesset Parliament (MK) Jamal Zahalka added at the rally that, “It remains for the Arabs only to launch a mass struggle for their lands and homes.”

MK Mohammed Barakeh said that “the crimes of the establishment against the Arabs in Israel are a basic component of their policy. They are constantly under racist attack and threats of expulsion.”

Arabe Council Head Ali Asala called upon PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to join forces in order to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital as soon as possible.

Many of the demonstration’s participants called for Arab autonomy in the Galilee section of Israel. “We are the majority here, and the time has come for us to stand up for our rights even at the price of fighting with sticks and stones,” said Ismail Orabi of Acre, an Israeli Arab leader who also took part in the demonstration.

Do the Israeli Arabs constitute a fifth column in Israel? Time will tell.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2008


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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.