Written by Right Side News
American presidential candidate John McCain told Israel's Channel 2 News station that stiffer sanctions might possibly stop Iran's threats against Israel, but in any event, the United States will not allow Iran to attempt to destroy Israel, nor will it tolerate a second Holocaust.
The interview with McCain aired just before the arrival in Israel of McCain's opponent, Barak Obama.
Asked about Israel feeling the need to attack Iran, McCain replied, "I would hope that would never happen. I would hope that Israel would not feel that threatened." He added that the US and Europe could impose "significant, very painful sanctions on Iran which I think could modify their behavior."
"But," he added, "I have to look you in the eye and tell you that the United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust."
Israel considers Iran a strategic threat, discounting reports that Iran has dropped efforts to build nuclear weapons. Iran is developing long-range rockets and has repeatedly issued calls for Israel's destruction.
McCain said he favors low-level contacts with Iranian officials, but not a meeting of presidents without preconditions.
Glad It's Over
American businessman Morris Talansky, the key witness in the latest corruption affair involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, arrived at the Jerusalem District Court this morning for the fifth and last day of his cross-examination.
Talansky, who appeared to be tired and exhausted, said before the discussion, "I'm glad it's over. I'll be back in August."
Talansky tried hard to maintain his usual smiling appearance as he entered the Jerusalem District Court Monday for his fourth day of cross-examination by Olmert's lawyers. "I know all of you already," he joked to the horde of photographers besieging him.
But his true feelings could be glimpsed in a quiet aside to an American journalist during a break in the proceedings: "For what they've done to me and members of my family, I hope God pays them."
By "they," it is not clear whether he meant Olmert, the prime minister's lawyers, the police, the prosecution, the media or perhaps all of them together. "And after all I gave to this country, and the institutions I helped to build," he somberly added.
State Prosecutor Moshe Lador said Monday that a decision on whether to indict the prime minister is expected "very soon". It appears that the indictment will most likely focus most on the most recent allegations against the Prime Minister regarding his multiple charges for travel expenses.
Eight Weeks and Olmert's Out
The Kadima party council, after 12 days, gathered the 91 votes required to amend the party's by-laws and set leadership primaries in September. The decision gives Prime Minister Ehud Olmert eight more weeks to lead the government before being replaced - unless he decides to take on his challengers. However, this seems increasingly unlikely due to the criminal investigations against him, not to mention the widespread disgust of the Israeli population towards him.
The primaries will be held after the second week of September, with a run-off, if necessary, the following week. Ministers Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit have announced they will seek the leadership.
Foreign Minister Livni has a narrow lead over Transportation Minister Mofaz in the polls. She and Public Security Minister Dichter have been the major movers in trying to gather a majority of council members to approve new party elections.
Olmert has evidenced quite a bitterness towards Livni of late and made it very clear that he doesn't want her to replace him.
Channel Two television reported Monday night that he viciously attacked her verbally in a private conversation, calling her a liar for her testimony before the Winograd Committee that investigated the government's handling of the Second Lebanon War.
Three No-Confidence Votes Pass in the Knesset
Three no-confidence motions were passed by the Knesset on Monday, but it wasn't quite enough to bring down the government immediately as they fell short of the required majority number of votes.
Nevertheless, it is a humiliating defeat for Olmert and his coalition.
For the first time during the summer session, the government lost a series of no-confidence votes on the Knesset floor, with three out of the five no-confidence motions presented Monday passing.
The motions - sponsored by Israel Beiteinu, Meretz and Balad - passed the house due, in part, to the conspicuous absence of coalition partner Shas, which disappeared from the session in protest of the nomination of MK Avishay Braverman (Labor) to become chairman of the Finance Committee.
Shas had intimated earlier in the day that it would begin to take punitive steps against the coalition should Braverman's appointment receive House Committee approval, which it did in a series of votes Monday. The ball is now in Shas' court. Will they take the next step? We'll see.
Gilad's Fellow Soldiers Released this Morning
Gilad Shalit's IDF company was discharged this morning at the army's Bakum base at Tel Hashomer, after completing three years of mandatory service. The routine of Shalit's daily life in captivity, meanwhile, will probably not change much.
When Shalit's comrades give back their army gear, they will be able to do what they were forbidden to do while in active service. They will face Israel's leadership and call on it to bring back the soldier whom Hamas kidnapped two years ago, and bring him back alive.
It seems none of them plans on catching the first plane to Bangkok, as so many Israelis fresh out of the army enjoy doing. Their first steps as reservists will be to walk the nine kilometers that separate Bakum from the Defense Minister's Bureau in the Kirya military compound in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he will meet with the group of 21-year-olds in the afternoon. From there, they plan on marching to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to demonstrate on behalf of their comrade's release.
Elsewhere, the bereaved mother of Ehud Goldwasser, Miki, told reporters Monday that she intends to become "a soldier in the fight to bring back Gilad Shalit."
Goldwasser told this to reporters visiting her in Nahariya, where she is sitting shiva - Judaism's seven-day mourning period for deceased relatives. Her son, an army reservist, died two years ago when Hezbollah attacked the army jeep in which he was riding.
His body was returned last week along with the body of a comrade, Eldad Regev, who was riding with him.
US, UK, France Launch Blockade Exercise of Iran
Operation Brimstone, which was launched yesterday, July 21, is aimed at giving military teeth to the two-week ultimatum the six world powers gave Iran in Geneva last Saturday. The ultimatum demands that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment or face harsh sanctions and isolation.
After warning of punitive measures against Iran, Condoleezza Rice met the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Jordan and Iraq in Abu Dhabi. The penalty of withholding refined oil products from Iran would be exercised by means of a partial international naval blockade of its Gulf ports.
Taking part in the 10-day exercise in the Atlantic Ocean are more than a dozen ships, including the US carrier strike group Theodore Roosevelt and expeditionary strike group Iwo Jima; the French submarine Amethyste, and the British HMS Illustrious Carrier Strike Group, as well as a Brazilian frigate.
Six vessels from the Norfolk Naval State will play the role of "enemy" forces.
About 15,000 sailors will be involved in Operation Brimstone. Both the Roosevelt and Iwo Jima will be deployed in the Middle East in the coming months.
The exercise is scheduled to end July 31, two days before the US-European ultimatum to Iran expires. Immediately after the Geneva talks ended in failure, the US State Department issued a statement giving Tehran the option of "cooperation or confrontation."
A partial blockade of Iran's shores, a key element of the new sanctions, would be limited to withholding from Iran supplies of benzene and other refined oil products - not foodstuffs or other commodities. Short of refining capacity, Iran has to import 40 percent of its benzene consumption and will be forced to react to the stoppage.
Addressing the Knesset in Jerusalem Monday, July 21, British prime minister George Brown said: Iran must ''suspend its nuclear program and accept our offer of negotiations or face growing isolation and the collective response not of one nation but of many nations.''
Ben Gurion Ranked Top Middle East Airport
An international survey has ranked Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport as the top airport in the Middle East.The annual survey is carried out by Skytrax, a British airline and airport rating company. The latest survey, which ranked 190 airports throughout the world, placed Ben Gurion ahead of airports in Bahrain and Doha.
Globes reports that 8.2 million passengers were interviewed for the survey, which addressed the quality and range of services, but not safety issues. Over 10.1 million passengers passed through the airport in 2007, on nearly 75,000 flights.
Hong Kong International Airport was named the world's best airport for 2008 - the seventh time in ten years it has achieved this rating.
Singapore's Changi Airport, Seoul Incheon Airport in South Korea, and Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia are next on the list. No European or American airports made it to the top ten.
Shalom and blessings,
Keep me as the apple of Your eye, hide me in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 17:8