Written by Right Side News
18 Av 5768
August 19, 2008
Russia Refuses to Budge
Russian troops and tanks did not move out of Georgia overnight through the main military crossing point, despite a Russian announcement that a gradual withdrawal was underway.
Russia's partial occupation of Georgia following a brief war over the rebel, pro-Moscow province of South Ossetia has alarmed the West. The United States has demanded that the Kremlin abide by the terms of a ceasefire deal and pull out without delay.
A Reuters correspondent, who spent the night on the only road linking Russia's southern garrison town of Vladikavkaz with South Ossetia, said early Tuesday he had seen no troop movements out of Georgia. "I didn't see any tanks or armored personnel carriers leaving the conflict zone," he said. Only a few ambulances and trucks carrying construction materials were seen, heading for South Ossetia from Russia.
In a separate move, Moscow closed its land border with Georgia and neighboring Azerbaijan to citizens who are not from the CIS, a grouping of former Soviet states. A decree signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the move was needed to "prevent weapons smuggling and members of foreign terrorist organizations from entering Russia".
Air, rail and sea links between Russia and its former Soviet vassal Georgia have already been cut. The virtual blockade has hurt Georgia's economy, which depends heavily on trade with Russia.
Ministers from the NATO military alliance meet in Brussels on Tuesday to consider a US proposal to punish Russia by suspending ministerial meetings with Moscow. NATO ministers were also expected to reiterate a commitment to eventual membership for Georgia. Moscow is strongly opposed to states on its borders joining what it regards as a hostile military alliance.
According to US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, Russia appears to be attempting to re-establish another Soviet Union, and America intends to nip the effort in the bud. Rice made her remarks to journalists during her flight to Brussels for a meeting of the NATO Council.
IDF Detects Syria Rocket Launch
Israel TV Channel 2 reported last night that Syria test-launched a series of ground to ground missiles in recent months.
According to data released by the military censor, Damascus has been testing rockets over a period of time, and the tests have been detected by Israeli radar systems, including the systems linked to Israel's missile defense systems.
Most of Syria's long-range missiles are based on the Scud design, Channel 2 reported. While Syria's arsenal of missiles is based mainly on antiquated soviet ware upgraded and improved in Syria, the missiles - with a range of 300-700 km. - can still reach any target in Israel.
Syria is believed to hold chemical warheads in its arsenal and is also suspected of having experimented with biological warheads.
"Huckabee the Maccabee"?
The man who could possibly become America's next vice president gained a new title Monday in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter, when his host jokingly called him "Huckabee the Maccabee."
Mike Huckabee, who earlier this year lost to John McCain in the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, was given the nickname by Mati Dan, founder of the Ateret Cohanim religious seminary, for expressing support for the settlement of Jews in the Muslim quarter and for calling a potential division of Jerusalem "unimaginable."
In what can be seen as criticism of U.S. President George W. Bush's efforts to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Huckabee told Haaretz: "It's naive when people think that you're going to have a couple of politicians get together and solve the conflict in the Middle East."
The two-day visit to Israel - Huckabee's 10th - came at the invitation of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a New York foundation working to move Jews into the Muslim Quarter. Dr. Joseph Frager, chairman of the foundation's board, said he thought that Huckabee's statements about Jerusalem and on other issues were very different to statements by other American politicians. "Huckabee is a straight shooter and he speaks with one voice," Frager said.
Huckabee is rumored to be on McCain's short list of vice-presidential choices. In a few days we should find out how valid the rumor is.
Will Budget Fight Topple Government?
Discussions of the 2009 budget got off to a very heated start as Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak clashed bitterly over proposed cuts, fueling rumors that the budget issue could finally topple Olmert's government ahead of the Kadima primaries next month. It's not the first
crisis between the two and probably won't be the last, even given Olmert's imminent departure from the government.
Labor said Monday evening that it would vote against the 2009 budget in its current form, raising the prospects of yet another political crisis between Kadima (Olmert's party) and Labor (Barak's party).
However, aides close to Olmert report that the Prime Minister said he would not fire Barak at this time. According to the aides, Barak will remain in his position even if Labor ministers oppose the 2009 annual budget proposal, Army Radio reported.
Labor Chairman Ehud Barak criticized the Treasury's proposal to make sizable cuts to either the defense budget or the welfare budget, saying it was not right to create a dilemma between the two, and stating that there were more than just those two options.
Barak attacked Kadima for allowing the budget to become a political issue in the race between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who supports passing it before the primary, and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who believes the budget's passage should wait until the race is over and it is clear whether a new government could be formed.
"It is too bad that the government debate over the budget has been dragged into the political machinations inside Kadima," Barak told the faction. "The budget should not be brought down to the level of petty political fighting."
It's hard these days to find one Palestinian who regards Israel's decision to release some 200 Palestinian prisoners as a "goodwill gesture." It's also hard to see how the release of the prisoners would "boost" the popularity of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas among his people, writes Khaled Abu Toameh in today's Jerusalem Post .
The argument that the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails strengthens the "moderates" has never proven to be correct.
The best way to strengthen the "moderates" at this stage, says Toameh, is by putting pressure on them to reform the Palestinian Authority and end financial corruption and the state of lawlessness and chaos in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
Since the signing of the Oslo Accords 15 years ago, Israel - citing the need to strengthen "moderate" Palestinians - has released thousands of security prisoners. Ironically, in many cases the released prisoners turned out to be a big headache for the "moderate" Palestinian leadership. Too many of them, despite signing agreements not to return to terror, do so almost immediately and cause increasing problems for Abbas and his government.
Until today, there has been no proof that the release of security prisoners boosted Arafat's standing among his people in the first 10 years of the peace process.
Each time Israel released a few hundred prisoners, the Palestinians' reaction was always: "Too little, too late." Too little because the Palestinians have always wanted to see at least several thousand prisoners freed, especially those serving lengthy sentences. Too late because most of those released in the past were anyway on the verge of being released after completing their sentences.
Over the past three years, the release of security prisoners to "boost" Abbas and Fatah did not prevent Hamas in the end from winning the parliamentary election. Nor did it help Abbas and Fatah when Hamas managed to drive them out of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.
Today, Israel is hoping that the release of the 200 security prisoners, almost all of whom belong to Fatah, would again strengthen Abbas and Fatah at the expense of Hamas.
On what earthly basis does this government still hold to a practice that has been conclusively proven as absolutely useless! And damaging!!
The Miracle Preemie
Israelis were stunned yesterday when the news broke that a premature baby who was declared dead very shortly after birth was found to be breathing a few hours later. Dubbed the "miracle preemie", the infant girl was rushed into the neonatal unit where doctors worked feverishly to aid the fragile, but living, baby.
The unusual turn of events began on Monday morning, when the mother, who was into the 23rd week of her pregnancy, arrived in the hospital's emergency room with severe abdominal pains and bleeding.
Tests run by her physicians discovered that there was no fetal heartbeat, leading the medical team to order a second-trimester termination procedure. Tests done on the preemie after the procedure confirmed she was stillborn.
According to hospital procedures, the body was then taken to the cryogenic laboratory. About five hours later, as her father came to claim the body, the unbelievable happened - the infant began spontaneous breathing.
Her parents stayed by her side through the night. Sadly, baby girl Mardov didn't make it through the night and was pronounced dead at 5:15 this morning.
"The doctors told us she lost her pulse again this morning," said Ali Mardov, the baby's father. "We were both next to her and you could see that she was really gone this time. You can't imagine what we're going through."
The Health Ministry has launched an official investigation of the case. The hospital's administration released a statement Tuesday morning, saying they were offering the family their condolences and will now await the ministry's commission of inquiry's report.
"The medical team did everything in its power to save this baby, but unfortunately, a premature baby in the 23-week-old pregnancy has very little chance of surviving," said Dr. Moshe Daniel, deputy chief of staff at Nahariya Hospital.
May these parents, who went through such a traumatic 24 hours, be comforted and strengthened in the days ahead.
Beijing Honors Slain Israeli Athletes of Munich Games
A memorial ceremony was held Monday in Beijing to honor the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered in a Palestinian terror attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The ceremony was organized by the Israeli embassy in the city and the Israel Olympic Committee at the Hilton hotel.
Hundreds attended the event, including representatives of Israel's athletic delegations, and Science, Culture and Sport Minister Raleb Majadele.
A significant number of foreign delegates, military attaches and Olympic officials were in attendance as well. Among the guests of honor was Juan Antonio Samaranch, International Olympic Committee president from 1980 to 2001, and Alex Giladi, Israel's delegate to the IOC.
On September 4, 1972, 10 Israeli athletes and a coach were taken hostage by Black September, a Palestinian terrorist group with ties to Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization. Just after midnight on September 6, after West German police botched the rescue attempt, the group killed all of the hostages and a German police officer.
Memorial ceremonies for the Munich massacre have been held at every Olympics since the 2000 Games in Sydney. Speaking at the Monday ceremony, OIC president Samaranch gave a heartfelt speech about keeping the slain sportsmen's memories alive, describing the massacre as the "blackest moment in the history of the Olympic movement."
May their memories be for a blessing.
Shalom and blessings,
He that obtains wisdom loves his own soul; he that guards understanding shall find good.
The Lekarev Report is brought to you by Right Side News, a friend of Israel. You can sign up for this daily report here.