Written by The Lekarev Report
June 5, 2008
The Lekarev Report
BREAKING NEWS! Just as I am finishing this report, there is breaking news that an Israeli has been killed in a Qassam rocket attack in the Negev.
From The Jerusalem Post:One man was killed, two others were seriously wounded and a fourth suffered light injuries noontime Thursday when a mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip hit a factory in the western Negev kibbutz of Nir Oz.
The mortar was one of three mortar shells fired into the area. Factory workers said they had walked outside after hearing the first two mortars hit when they were struck by the third.
The wounded were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. Several people suffered from shock and were treated by Magen David Adom teams at the scene.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the fatal attack. In a statement issued by the group, it pledged to "continue to strike the Zionist military locations and settlement colonies around the Gaza Strip as a response to the nonstop aggression against our people (continue to Jpost full report)
Other News of the Day from Israel:
Olmert in Washington
US President George W. Bush told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday that Iran was an "existential threat to peace" and said the world must take that threat seriously.
"It is very iportant for the world to take the Iranian threat seriously, which the United States does," Bush said as he began White House talks with Olmert, who is visiting the U.S. capital amid a corruption scandal at home that is exected to drive him from office.
It has been rumored that Olmert will ask Bush to order a strike on Iran before he leaves office, but associates close to Olmert refuse to confirm or negate the rumor. However, one senior associate did say that on previous occasions, Israel has asked the US for decisive action against Iran.
The two leaders were also expected to discuss Israel's request to acquire one or two squadrons of the F-35 stealth aircraft, and possibly also F-22 jets. Both models are considered the most advanced in the world.
At the beginning of their meeting, Bush and Olmert again displayed their friendly relationship with the familiar body language of smiles and slaps on each other's back. At the outset of the meeting, Bush told Olmert that the two will be discussing both the Palestinian and Lebanon issues, and also asked for an update on the Syrian question.
However, the American president made it clear that the other issues will not keep the two leaders from discussing the main issue on the agenda, Iran. Olmert told Bush that Iran is indeed the main threat on Israel, and thanked him for his visit to Israel about a month ago.
Moving Steadily Toward New Elections
Labor Party ministers today declared that they would support Likud MK Silvan Shalom's bill that would disperse the Knesset and set a November date for the next general elections.
After its first reading scheduled for June 18, there will be the first of four votes to pass the bill and make it binding.
The ministers' decision came after three out of four Kadima leadership candidates - Shaul Mofaz, Meir Sheetrit and Avi Dichter - indicated that they opposed initiating a Kadima primary before the July 17 cross-examination of New York financier Morris Talansky in the probe against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is alone at present in her support for an immediate initiation of the primary process.
Shalom's bill, which already has the support of nearly all 56 opposition MKs, is expected to have a large majority if it receives the support of Labor's 19 MKs. The religious party, Shas, is also expected to support the bill.
Obama Speaks to AIPAC
Delivering his first public address since claiming victory in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama tried to make the case on Wednesday that no one should question his support for Israel and argued that he was the best candidate when it came to the Jewish state's security.
To sustained applause and half a dozen standing ovations - the strongest reception given to any of the dignitaries who addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's three-day conference, including his Democratic competitor Hillary Clinton and the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain - Obama stressed his ties to the Jewish community, the importance of a secure Israel and his vow that he would "do everything in my power to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."
He staked out some hawkish positions, declaring that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," and termed Israel's attack in September on Syria's alleged incipient nuclear facility "entirely justified to end that threat."
In Wednesday's speech, Obama continued to call for early, sustained American engagement in the peace process for a two-state solution - with an end to new settlements - and an emphasis on diplomacy when it came to Iran, but he put a more assertive face on his policies.
Implying that his position on meeting with the leaders of enemy countries had been mischaracterized, Obama stressed, "I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing, if and only if it can advance the interests of the United States."
"Let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally, Israel," he said.
His comments weren't enough to satisfy the McCain campaign, which accused him of massaging his position on key issues of concern to the Jewish community. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) described a "disconnect" between Obama's words on Iran Wednesday and earlier statements in a conference call with the media following the Illinois senator's speech.
Lieberman is widely popular with the AIPAC crowd and is a key component of McCain's efforts to peel Jewish voters away from the Democratic party, traditionally a stronghold of Jewish support. With Clinton, an early favorite of the Jewish community, all but out of the race and Obama perceived as being vulnerable on Israel in some quarters, the McCain camp hopes to use its candidate's lengthy experience with national security issues and record of support for Israel to win over the American Jewish vote.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders are furious, to put it mildly, over Obama's statement of support for Jerusalem as Israel's eternal, undivided capital. Their high expectations of US pressure on Israel for major concessions in peace talks have been set back; all three presidential candidates are pursuing the Jewish vote with ringing support for Israel.
Rice Call for Palestinian State Meets with Silence
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington Tuesday, stressed the urgency of establishing a Palestinian state, saying that increasing violence in the Middle East makes the establishment of a "peaceful" Palestinian state especially urgent.
Her remark, however, was received with stony silence -- although the secretary had been warmly greeted by the conference at the outset of her speech. After she noted that this would be her last AIPAC conference as Secretary of State, she jokingly thanked the audience for not treating that remark as an applause line.
Rice said that while the present opportunity is far from perfect, it is better than any alternative and should not be missed. "Israelis have waited too long for the security they desire and deserve," she said, "and Palestinians have waited too long, amid daily humiliations, for the dignity of a Palestinian state."
Abbas to Hamas: Let's Talk
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Wednesday for renewed dialogue with Hamas. This followed months of his that Hamas must first relinquish control of Gaza.
Abbas gave a broadcast speech to his people on Wednesday evening. Referring to the latest attempt to bridge the rift, he called for "a national dialogue to implement the Yemeni initiative in all its elements, to end the internal division that harms our people, (our) cause."
He said that if the talks are successful, he will call for new legislative and presidential elections.
The Palestinian President angrily rejected Barack Obama's call yesterday for Jerusalem to be the undivided capital of Israel and repeated his demand for a Palestinian capital in the city.
"This statement is totally rejected," Abbas declared during his speech. "The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
Law Suit Demands Olmert Step Down
A private lawsuit has been filed demanding that the Prime Minister suspend himself, and/or that his criminal investigation be limited in time.Two lawyers, Kiryat Ono College Law Lecturer Barak Malchiya and Arik Harush, filed the suit on Wednesday in the Supreme Court. They say they wish to save the Israeli public the injustice of protracted legal proceedings.
Olmert is currently under several police criminal investigations, most acutely and recently including the case known as the Talansky Envelopes scandal. US businessman and philanthropist Moshe Talansky testified last week that he had given Olmert, then the Mayor of Jerusalem, envelopes of cash totalling $150,000 or more. Though Talansky is apparently not suspected of having accepted anything in return, this does not exonerate Olmert from not reporting the cash gifts.
Attorneys Malchiya and Harush ask that Olmert be forced into suspension or resignation until the police investigation against him is concluded. At the same time, the two request that the Attorney General and the State Prosecutor set a limit of two months, within which time the investigation must be completed.
"We are not taking a political stance," Malchiya emphasized. "We have nothing against the Prime Minister. It's just that the situation is an impossible one, and it is causing an administrative and political stand-still."
An Israeli Viewpoint
Hillary Clinton has finally come to the end of the road and according to reports will throw her support to Barak Obama on Saturday. How do Israelis see her at this point? What impression has she left with the citizens of Israel at large?
Veteran columnist Orly Azoulay posted an article on YNET today entitled, "Defeated and Pathetic". Not a few Israelis feel as he does and I thought you might find it interesting to read.
Click below for Azoulay's article.
Shalom & blessings,
For the ways of man are before the eyes of Hashem, and He makes all his paths straight. Mishle/Proverbs 5:21 This report is a daily news digest, and you can subscribe to The Lekarev Report HERE