Written by The Lekarev Report
June 7, 2008
The Lekarev Report
Day of Reckoning for Gaza?
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert returned to Israel from the US this morning and, echoing the previous day's remarks by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said that Gaza's day of reckoning is approaching.
"Israel is closer to the day of reckoning regarding the Gaza issue," said the prime minister at Ben Gurion Airport. On Thursday, Olmert had said that Israel was inching toward using military force against Hamas in Gaza because Egyptian cease-fire efforts there were not "ripening."
When asked by a reporter about the investigation currently underway against him, Olmert said, "I will talk about my political future at the right time."
Olmert, who was wrapping up a US visit dominated by discussions on the dangers of a nuclear Iran, said Israel was not eager to carry out a military operation in the Hamas-controlled territory but would not be deterred if the threat continued.
"As it looks now, it's closer to a military operation than to another arrangement," he told reporters. The reason is because Egyptian peace efforts "are not ripening in a way that can bring a cease-fire," he added.
Raising the Price for Peace
In his interview in Dubai on June 2, Syrian President Bashar Assad raised his price for a peace deal with Israel. The Golan, which Syria's invading army lost to Israel in the 1967 war, is not enough; Assad is now also demanding a strip of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The last round of peace talks eight years ago broke down over this very demand. The Syrian ruler told the Gulf newspaper al-Khaleej: "But if the question of water is intended for us to give up the 1967 borders that stretch to Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), then there will never be a compromise on the 1967 borders."
The strip Assad referred to is crowded with the Israeli kibbutzim, Ha'on, Tel Katzir, Shear Hagolan and Massada, which in the 1950s and 1960s lived under constant Syrian shelling from the Golan plateau overhead. These attacks often blew up into major Israel-Syria clashes and aerial dogfights.
Notably, Assad published his expanded demands on the day Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert arrived in Washington for talks with the US president and top officials. The message he was broadcasting from Dubai was actually addressed to the next occupant of the White House in the hope that the next president opts for diplomatic talks with Tehran and Damascus. The Syrian ruler therefore made a point of mentioning that serious peace talks with Israel would not start before next year and Washington would need to take a hand in the process.
Jockeying for position ahead of these talks, Assad made it clear that he was also challenging Israel's control of the Sea of Galilee, the main source of its national water supply. "As for water," he said. "There are international rules that govern these matters and are usually referred to."
Obama Already Backtracking
Within 24 hours of expressing his firm support for a united Jerusalem in a speech to a pro-Israel lobby organization, US Senator Barack Obama was backtracking in the face of Arab anger on Thursday.
Obama enraged Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) with his first foreign policy speech since garnering enough delegates to win the nomination at the Democratic convention in Denver this summer.
Responding to Obama's remarks, a livid Abbas told reporters, "This statement is totally rejected. 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."
By Thursday Obama was quickly backpedaling, telling reporters "Well, obviously it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations. As a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute [a policy of the capital remaining undivided.]"
Obama went on to expressed the view that there must be a way in which "everyone has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem, but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city."
As noted below, it's one thing to make impressive speeches and something else entirely to live up to those after elected - indeed, something else entirely to hold to your promises even within 24 hours!
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that both Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain have taken positions "hostile" to Hamas. Hamas had previously "endorsed" Obama for president but are now among the very upset Arabs who heard Obama tell AIPAC that he would ensure Israel's "qualitative military advantage" in the Middle East and that he supported Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital.
I guess that means that Hamas has now "UN-endorsed" him!
IDF Soldier Wounded, Palestinian Gunman Killed
An IDF soldier was moderately wounded today after Palestinian gunmen opened fire at an army patrol doing engineering work on the border security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The soldier was evacuated to the hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, an IDF patrol operating in the Nahal Oz area shot and killed a Hamas gunman. Earlier, Palestinian sources reported at least 10 Palestinians injured in an Air Force (IAF) strike on a Hamas firing post in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya early Friday morning.
IAF jets struck a Hamas post and identified a direct hit. The statement said the strike came in retaliation to the mortar fire launched by Hamas from the Strip.
Yesterday, Amnon Rosenberg of Kibbutz Nirim, father of three children, was killed by a mortar shell attack on a Nirlat Groups facility located in Nir Oz.
Four others were wounded and evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
Shabbat Shalom & Chag Sameach Shavuot
In this week's Torah portion Hashem teaches Aaron and his sons how to bless the children of Israel. Of all the elements that could have been included in a divinely communicated form of blessing, why the words which are quoted at the beginning of today's Report. That is the subject of this week's commentary linked below.
The biblical festival of SHAVUOT comes quickly on the heels of this Shabbat. Shavuot begins at sundown on Sunday and extends throughout Monday here in Israel; in the diaspora (overseas) it is a two day festival, ending Tuesday at sundown. SHAVUOT celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai and is a festival of great joy to us. We are forever grateful that Hashem gave us His Torah and we celebrate it with exceeding joy.
Because SHAVUOT is a biblically mandated festival, and its observance is similar to a Shabbat, there will be no Report. Shavuot is also called the Feast of Weeks and in some English bibles is referred to as Pentecost.
Torah Portion: Naso