Written by Lekarev Report
News from Israel, July 10, 2008
Kadima: Olmert Won't Run in Primaries
According to a senior Kadima official, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will not run in the September party primaries AND he has finally agreed that the winner of the primaries will replace him as interim Prime Minister until the next general election.
According to sources in the party, including some who are closely associated with the prime minister, in the coming weeks Olmert will attempt to come up with a way to quit his post in a dignified manner and possibly retire from politics altogether.
Yesterday, agreement was reached on holding the Kadima primaries in September between September 14-18, and the candidate who wins the vote will be the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the next general elections. This arrangement was formulated by MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who heads Kadima's party affairs committee, in conjunction with the party's leadership candidates.
Today, Hanegbi will submit a proposal for amending the party's charter in a manner that incorporates the primaries arrangement. In addition, he will submit the recent agreement with the Labor Party to Kadima's approval. The agreement will enable the current coalition to stay in place.
Hizbollah Re-arming at "Dizzying" Pace
There are some 2,500 non-uniformed Hizbullah fighters in southern Lebanon, and the organization has tripled its pre-war missile arsenal, government sources said Wednesday following a security cabinet meeting on Hizbullah's current strength and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
According to the sources, Hizbullah today has some 40,000 short and medium-range missiles inside Lebanon, and UN Security Council Resolution 1701 - the resolution that put an end to the Second Lebanon War and provided an expanded mandate for UNIFIL - has been completely ineffective in stopping arms from pouring in to Hizbullah from Syria.
The vast majority of the missiles are north of the Litani river, but can still "blanket" the northern part of Israel, the sources said.
The ministers heard three hours of briefings from Military Intelligence, Mossad and General Security Services representatives, before the meeting was cut short to enable the ministers to attend debates in the Knesset. The security cabinet discussion, which had been planned for a number of weeks, is scheduled to continue in the coming weeks.
Police to "Get Tough" with Olmert Tomorrow
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be subjected to a third round of questioning this Friday at his home and according to police, it is going to be dramatic. A spokesman said, "They'll be "taking off the kid gloves."
Police officials unleashed unprecedented criticism of the prime minister in response to statements by Olmert's media adviser that the police had leaked details of the investigation in order to influence the main witness, American fundraiser Morris Talansky. Olmert's attorneys are scheduled to cross-examine Talansky on July 17 regarding the deposition he gave in court in May.
A source said on Wednesday that Olmert was trying to scare his investigators, and had "crossed a very dangerous red line. He is grinding down the legitimacy of the law enforcement system he is entrusted with."
Olmert's media adviser, Amir Dan, said on Wednesday, "Over the past few days, the police have used the unacceptable system of leading witnesses and coordinating versions by leaking selected investigation material to the media. The police may not talk to Talansky before the cross-examination and therefore they have found an alternative route to send him messages before he testifies next week."
Dan also said the conduct of the police would "certainly be probed in the future, and it must be stopped immediately. This means of transmitting messages to Talansky will probably continue until he testifies, and I wouldn't be surprised if they leak details of the prime minister's questioning on Friday."
In response, Police officials said that investigators would be tougher with Olmert in the wake of Dan's statements, and that they would "question Olmert fearlessly. Our goal is to get to the truth."
An officer added, "This time we won't let him play games. This time, it will be the police who dictate how the investigation goes. We will not let him take phone calls during the questioning and we will not let him scold investigators, like he did last time. Olmert will not be able to play for time at the expense of the investigation."
Iran Tests More Missiles
Iran tested more missiles "with special capabilities" in the Gulf, state media reported today, one day after drawing Western criticism for test-firing nine rockets
The report said the weapons fired included missiles launched from naval ships in the Persian Gulf, as well as torpedoes and surface-to-surface missiles.
The Bush administration warned Tehran that it should halt further missile tests if it wanted to gain the world's trust.
Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill last month. US leaders have not ruled out military options if diplomacy fails to end the nuclear row.
Iran has responded by saying it will strike back at Tel Aviv, as well as US interests and shipping, if it is hit. Tehran insists its nuclear program has only civilian goals.
State TV and radio reported that the new missile tests took place during the night into Thursday. "Deep in the Persian Gulf waters, the launch of different types of ground-to-sea, surface-to-surface, sea-to-air and the powerful launch of the Hout missile successfully took place," State radio said.
China Accommodates Shabbat Observance for Peres
Israeli President, Shimon Peres, declined invitations to attend the opening of mext month's Olympic Games in Beijing because it is being held on Friday night and he did not want to transgress Shabbat.
Kol ha Kavod to him!
The Chinese wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. So what did they do?
The Chinese government decided to build a hotel within easy walking distance of the Olympic stadium's VIP area, where the Friday night ceremony is scheduled to take place.
These unprecedented efforts enabled the president to announce Wednesday that he'll lead the Israeli delegation to the Olympic Games. Though not considered 'Orthodox' in the strict sense, Peres makes every effort to keep Shabbat in his public life.
The president's work to establish diplomatic ties between China and Israel and his position as honorary president of the Israel China Friendship Association endeared him to his Chinese counterparts, who very much wanted him to join world leaders in marking the opening of the 2008 Olympics.
Peres will not travel to China in an Israel Air Force plane but will take a regular commercial flight, and will be accompanied by a relatively small retinue.
Hamas Ready to Pounce
IDF sources have warned Western Negev municipal leaders that Hamas is preparing to renew its rocket attacks - and that it has the wherewithal to do so with fury.
The current ceasefire has held, more or less, for three weeks, but it is not expected to last for a long time. Hamas and other Gaza terrorists have fired an average of two shells or rockets at Israel every three days. So far Israel has "shown restraint" - much to the frustration of many Israelis.
Hamas overthrew Fatah control of Gaza in June of last year, and was able to amass at least 230 tons of explosives, 30,000 rifles, over six million rounds of ammunition, and scores of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles by the time they had been in power just six months.
Military experts have warned repeatedly that Hamas is using the ceasefire period to amass a tremendous arsenal of weapons and explosives, for use against Israel when the time is ripe.
In the meantime, Hamas continues to launch rockets, with the goal of getting Israel used to a situation in which Hamas is "allowed" to respond to perceived Israeli violations of the ceasefire without punishment.
Israel Knew Two Years Ago
The Israeli media is noticeably silent about the release of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev that we were earlier told would happen today.
It wasn't until two weeks ago that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert finally told the Knesset that Israeli intelligence strongly believed the abducted army reservists - Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - were killed during the Hezbollah raid, which sparked Israel's 2006 war against the terrorist group in Lebanon, though we now know that the government knew two years ago that in all likelihood the two soldiers were dead almost immediately after their abduction.
Olmert dropped the bombshell just before the Knesset began voting on whether to approve a controversial prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah that would see the release of the two abducted soldiers.
Since 2006, Olmert's associates as well as the families of Goldwasser and Regev waged public relations campaigns building up the concept of making a deal with Hezbollah to free the kidnapped soldiers. The families, believing the two men were alive, appeared frequently in the Israeli media petitioning the government to do more to bring about their freedom.
Perhaps the exchange is taking place out of the public eye for security reasons and we will only be told about it after the fact. Or perhaps it's been postponed a few days. In any case, the Goldwasser and Regev families are very much on our hearts in these difficult days.
Shalom and blessings to all of you,
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