Israel News Update for May 22, 2008

Written by The Lekarev Report


May 22, 2008
17 Iyar 5768
The Lekarev Report
Truck Bomb Explodes at Gaza Crossing
A Palestinian truck bomber attacked a key border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel about 6:35 am this morning.  The IDF said there were no reports of injuries among the soldiers manning the crossing, which is located on the northern end of the Gaza-Israel border.  The attack combined gunfire with the detonation of at least one truck by a suicide bomber. Army officials said the gunmen took advantage of the heavy fog that covered the area in the early morning hours.   An army official estimated that the truck bomb carried hundreds of pounds of explosives, adding that "the soldiers' deployment, readiness and conduct prevented a more severe attack".

The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, said it carried out the attack at the Erez crossing in cooperation with the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing. Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad's armed wing said that the truck was carrying some four tons of explosives. He identified the suicide bomber as 23-year-old Ibrahim Nasser from Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip.
The IDF said that in addition to the truck bomb, the gunmen also brought a jeep that was apparently meant to be used to kidnap soldiers or infiltrate the Israeli side of the terminal. The jeep overturned during the attack.

A number of homes in the Israeli community of Netiv Ha'asara were damaged as a result of the explosion, and residents of Gaza-vicinity towns were asked to remain indoors for fear that the attack was just the first phase of a broader operation.
"As soon as we heard that massive explosion, and grasped the overall situation, I instructed the residents to stay inside their secured rooms.  We were concerned that mortar fire was coming our way," Netiv Ha'asara's security director, Gil Ta'aseh told reporters.

Golan Residents: We Won't Leave Our Homes

The Golan Regional Council called an emergency meeting in Katzrin on Wednesday evening after the news broke about Israeli-Syrian meetings.

"The sky hasn't fallen on us yet and no one has announced a peace agreement with Syria," council head Eli Malka told the Jerusalem Post.

"We understand that there is a [peace] process Israel must pursue and we understand that the prime minister [Ehud Olmert] is preparing to face a police investigation, but we also know that most Israeli Knesset members reject the idea of withdrawing from the Golan and that there is a strong majority in the Knesset that opposes the idea, as does most of the Israeli public.

"Although it is worrisome, we can't imagine the Israeli government would dare to give important Israeli territory to the hands of the Iranians, the Syrians and Hizbullah, and thereby endanger the existence of the Israeli state," Malka said.

"We [Golan residents] are depending on a significant majority among the public and in the Knesset who will act sanely and wisely and won't allow the prime minister, who is acting based on extraneous considerations, to send Israel into a tailspin. This move is bad for Israel, bad for the Americans, bad for the Arab world and bad for a future peace," Malka said at the end of the emergency meeting.

"As a resident of the Golan Heights this news make me worry because they are talking about my home and my personal future," said Menahem Baruch, who runs Israel's only ski resort. "As manager of the Hermon ski site I am also aware of the fact that there were many talks and efforts to hold talks for many years and nothing came out of it. I hope this will be the case this time as well. We all want peace and peace is an abstract idea but anyone who wants peace also wants to keep his place and his home. I think we should speak after the dust settles," Baruch said.

A poll published by the Geo-Cartographic Institute today demonstrated that 65 percent of Israelis are against a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, even if this would bring true peace with Syria.

64% of respondents were also against partial withdrawal from the Heights and a similar percentage said it was inappropriate that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was holding negotiations with Syria at a time when his political future was uncertain.

Geo-Cartographic Institute president, professor Avi Dgani, told Army Radio on Thursday that "the people are with the Golan and not with Olmert. A big part of the public is against withdrawing from even a part of the Golan Heights." Dgani was paraphrasing a bumper sticker with the text "The people are with the Golan," distributed during Israeli-Syrian talks in the 1990s.

A telephone poll conducted by Channel 2 Wednesday evening showed similar results, with 70 percent against relinquishing the Golan Heights for peace with Syria, compared to only 22% in favor of such a move.

Livni: Syria Must Renounce Terrorism

Commenting today on the publicized talks between Israel and Syria, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that before any peace agreement can be realized, Syria must cease its support of terrorism and break its ties with Iran, Hamas, and Hizbollah.

"Israel's primary goal has always been peace with its neighbors. The Syrians have to understand that it entails giving up their support of terror (elements), namely Hamas, Iran and Hizbullah," Livni said at the onset of her Jerusalem meeting with French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.
The Israeli Foreign Minister did not comment on the fact that she was kept in the dark on the renewed peace talks by her fellow "Kitchen Cabinet" members - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who led the initiative.  You can be sure she's quite unhappy about that - after all, she IS the Foreign Minister!  Olmert updated Livni on the joint statement drafted by Jerusalem, Ankara and Damascus just an hour before it was issued. 

Gag Order Lifted on Olmert Case

New evidence in the criminal investigation against Prime Minister Olmert was released last night and demonstrates that large amounts of cash given to him by American businessman, Moshe Talansky, was used by Olmert for personal trips abroad and had nothing to do with election campaign expenses.  The question police are now trying to answer is:  what favors did Olmert do in return for the money?

The court ruled yesterday that Talansky is not allowed to leave the country until at least Monday evening of next week.

Police confiscated the journals of Former Prime Minister's Office Bureau Chief Shula Zaken, in which the dates of meetings between Olmert and Talansky in Israel and the US were recorded.  Disks a state controller inspectors' aid removed from his confidential assistant Shula Zaken's computer as well as her diaries were revealed as pointing to a suspicion of "money laundering" in addition to the fraud and bribe inquiries against him.
National Fraud Unit investigators raided the offices of the Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor over the last few weeks, and seized documents related to the probe; according to which Olmert received cash-filled envelopes from Talansky.
The prime minister has claimed that Talansky worked as a fundraiser for both his campaign for the position of mayor of Jerusalem, and his campaign for the position of chairman of the Likud. Olmert also claimed that the funds were handled by his attorney, Uri Messer, but the police claim they have evidence showing the prime minister received cash sums for his own personal use, some of which appear to have funded trips abroad. 

National Fraud Unit investigators have also uncovered documents supporting the claim that Olmert and Talansky held several meetings over the years, during which money allegedly changed hands.

During his first interrogation, Olmert claimed that his attorney, Uri Messer, had handled all money matters and he failed to explain in what way he used the money allegedly given to him.  Olmert's testimony contradicts that of Messer's, who claimed he never received any money from Talansky - only from Olmert himself and Zaken. A legal source told Ynet that "Messer's testimony incriminates the prime minister and confirms that of Talansky."

Talansky's testimony is also at odds with Olmert's version of events.
Bill in Progress to Protect Golan
MK Eliahu Gabbay (National Union - NRP) announced yesterday that  legislation is already in progress over a bill proposal which, if ratified, would require a two-third Knesset majority (80 MKs out of 120 members of the Knesset) to withdraw from the Golan Heights.  57 MK's have already signed on to the bill.

Gabbay said the bill would squash "Syria's fantasies." Olmert does not have the support of the public, he said, "nor does he have a majority in the Knesset to give away the Heights and these negotiations now are a mockery. 

"The Golan is an inseparable part of the State of Israel, it holds the same status as Tel Aviv or any other city," he said.

"Tiny Iran"???
This article, passed on by Naomi Ragen, was written by Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.  Yes, it deals with the American election process but it is all too clear that the American election has profound implications for Israel; therefore, it is relevant in this Report to pass along articles like this - for Israel's sake and for America's.  Read and consider.

"Tiny Iran" - Obama's big learning curve.
By Anne Bayefsky

'It's terrorism, stupid." Nothing short of blunt talk will do in light of Sen. Barack Obama's comments this past week on Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah. They are the most significant indication to date of the looming catastrophe for American national security posed by an Obama presidency.

Here is Obama in his own words, speaking in Pendleton, Oregon on Sunday night: "Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. In Iran they spend 1/100th of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance."

How does one begin a course for a presidential candidate in Terrorism 101? Where has Obama been for the past three decades during which the greatest threats to peace and security have moved beyond the sphere of state actors operating alone? After 9/11, why doesn't Obama recognize the capacity of relatively small entities to wreak havoc, at comparatively little cost, on a nation as large and strong as America?

Despite Obama's claim to be a foreign-policy realist, his fancy foreign-policy footwork contains as much realpolitik as a dancing sugar-plum fairy. Obama is keen to explain his hankering for an early heart-to-heart with Iranian President Ahmadinejad - with whom he would "be willing to meet separately, without precondition during the first year of [his] administration" or his desire to engage in "direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions." His strategy so far has been to deny the undeniable transaction costs of an unconditioned presidential get-together: the undeserved legitimacy conferred on a would-be mass murderer, the time lost while a nuclear-weapons program continues in full swing, and the betrayal of brave local dissenters.

"Tiny" and not "serious" move us another step closer to the edge.

The unfortunate reality is that Iran not only poses a serious threat already, but it does stand a chance of carrying out its dire program. Ahmadinejad, in addition to his professed affinity for genocide, is funding terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza who believe they have started the job and are committed to finishing it. The message Obama sends in denying that Iran has "tried to pose a serious threat to us" is that a grave threat to the peace and security of Israel is not a threat to the peace and security of the United States. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, of "Israel Lobby" fame, would be proud. But even the anti-nuclear-anything activists in the Democratic party should begin to worry about a president who thinks the consequences of an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel can be confined to the locals.

Official U.S. policy holds Iran to be a state sponsor of terrorism, along with Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Not only has Iran tried, and is trying, to pose a serious threat to us, in some ways it is a greater threat than that posed by the Soviet Union. The terrorist organizations or non-state actors whom these rogue states sponsor are not subject to the same economic and political pressures that could be brought to bear on the Soviet Union. Madmen and religious fanatics driven by a belief in the imminent reappearance of the 12th Imam following worldwide chaos, or visions of virgins in post-suicidal heaven, or who just hate us more than they love their children, are not susceptible to the rational calculus of Mikhail Gorbachev.

But according to his recently reported conversation with New York Times columnist David Brooks, Obama believes the problem with Hamas and Hezbollah is that the poor things don't "understand that they're going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims." We need to hear more about where in the governing Hamas Charter (with its overt anti-Semitism and manifest dedication to the destruction of Israel), and Hezbollah's takeover plans for Lebanon, Obama finds legitimate claims. And the solution according to Obama? "The U.S. needs a foreign policy that looks at root causes of problems and dangers."

Hezbollah Leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah couldn't have said it better himself. Oh, wait: He has said it himself. Remember Iranian proxy Nasrallah in Beirut on September 30, 2006, just after he sent 4,000 rockets into Israel: "This experience of the resistance, which must be transferred to the world, relies on faith, conviction, trust, and the moral and spiritual willingness to give sacrifices. Also, it depends on the thinking, planning, organizing, training and armament, and as is said: dealing with the root causes." Surely, Obama ought to know that invoking the language of "root causes" to illuminate the behavior of Hamas and Hezbollah plays into the nefarious strategy of these terrorist organizations and their sympathizers.

How about the tiny factor? On the one hand, we could all hum tip-toeing through the tulips along with Obama and Tiny Tim. On the other hand, we might cast our minds back to "tiny" anthrax envelopes or think about "tiny" suitcase bombs or "tiny" nanotechnology innovations in chemical and biological weapons. I also wonder how all those developing countries, allegedly ready to embrace us once again with a President Obama, will enjoy the big boy's view of their tiny status.

Coming from a man who aspires to bear the single greatest responsibility for the peace and security of the free world, the resemblance to "peace for our time" is the least of Obama's problems. The real problem is a book with a name like "Terrorism for Dummies" would have to become bedside reading at the White House.
MK's Set an Example 

Some 20 Knesset Members decided recently to take an active role in the fight against draft dodgers and are putting in a voluntary day of IDF reserve duty.
Former deputy Shin Bet chief MK Yisrael Hasson (Yisrael Beiteinu), the man behind the initiative, was joined by National Religious Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev, Kadima's Brigadier- General (Ret) Amira Dotan, and MKs Ran Cohen (Meretz-Yahad), and Esterina Tattman (Yisrael Beiteinu). 
Joining them were Brigadier-General (Ret) MK Arieh Eldad (National Union-NRP), MK Limor Livnat (Likud) and MK Ya'acov Margi (Shas), as well as State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who - together with Brigadier-General Danni Van-Buren, who heads the IDF Reserves Directorate - will be taken over the 'soldiers' placement.

Kol haKavod to them!

Shalom and blessings,
If My people, upon whom My name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  II Chron. 7:14
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