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January 15, 2008: Politics Trumps Law

January 15, 2008

I have written a few times about the dispute regarding Shalom House, the large building situated in the Israeli controlled area of Hevron. Sitting on "Worshippers Way," the road that leads to the Machpelah, the Cave of the Patriarchs, it was purchased by the Jewish community of Hevron for conversion into apartments. The Palestinian who had sold the apartment subsequently denied having done so, and the Olmert government, eager to appease the PA, wanted to move the residents out.

Well…now comes good news. A forensic specialist called in by the Jewish community has declared the purchase valid. Apparently the issue was never the actual contract, which was accepted as valid, but complementary paperwork. Dr. Mordechai Vardi, a top expert called upon by courts to verify documents, said it is most likely that what is being dealt with is a case of "self forgery": This means that the signatures the Palestinians provided to the police for comparison’s sake were purposely altered to mislead the forensic investigators. As this ruse is a well-known one, Dr. Vardi said it was surprising that it wasn’t taken into consideration by the police forensic experts.


After Bush left last week, Iran was in the news here , as it was suggested that Israel and the US are on the same page regarding the threat of a nuclear Iran. Israeli Ambassador to the US, Sallai Meridor, has said that the US has not ruled out the military option.

Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday, Olmert said, "Israel will not accept a nuclear Iran. All options are being taken into consideration."


Commenting on the statement by Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin that over the last two years we’ve killed 1,000 terrorists in Gaza, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, speaking at the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, said there are 20,000 terrorists in Gaza, so this represents only 5%.

Israel has not succeeded in stopping the war of attrition , said Dichter; he called for a new approach that would "change the mode of operation."

Olmert is not in favor of expanding the war on Gaza , pointing to the successes of our current operation.


Dissension inside Fatah.

Farouk Kaddoumi — who is a power within Fatah but remains in Tunis because of opposition to negotiations with Israel — has now called for an investigation into the disappearance of $2 billion at the time of Arafat’s death. He charges that at least five Fatah leaders were responsible for the disappearance of the money. He couldn’t be referring to Abbas, could he? A fine upstanding man who cares about his people. Ask President Bush, he’ll tell you.

At the same time a long-standing feud between the old guard and the new guard is heating up. The young guard, seeking reform, is threatening an "internal intifada" if Abbas doesn’t agree to elections.

"What’s happening in Fatah these days is tantamount to a coup d’ etat," said Nabil Shaath, a former Fatah minister. "The young guard is planning to prevent the so-called old guard representatives from running in the internal elections and this is undemocratic."

Are you paying attention, everyone? This is the "moderate" party we’re supposed to be negotiating with.


Abbas, for his part, is talking about dismissing the Palestinian Legislative Council and establishing a separate West Bank parliament to sideline Hamas. Then they would call for new elections, but it is unclear when, as there is no way for elections run by the PA to be held in Gaza.

For the interim until elections could be held, the PLO Central Council, still old guard Fatah dominated, would serve as a parliament.

Ahh…you can see where this is going. Abbas’s reluctance to hold elections, even though he gives lip service to them, is part of what angers the new guard.


Meanwhile, the PA is charging that Syria and Iran are stepping up their efforts to overthrow Abbas and establish a new organization to replace the PLO.


Terrorists taking advantage of relaxed rules for bringing in humanitarian supplies to Gaza have been caught attempting to smuggle in with those supplies two tons of material for making weapons. This is the second time in a week.


Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Queri have begun negotiations on "core issues": Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, security and water. Ten years from now may these negotiations still be going on, unresolved.


Volunteer Carlos Andres Muscara Chavez from Quito, Ecuador, was working in a potato field in Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, near the border with Gaza when he was shot and killed by a Palestinian sniper. Hamas claimed credit.

Seven rockets also pounded Sderot today, wounding four including an eight year old boy. Hamas claimed credit for this, as well.

Israel moved into Gaza in a move to stop the rocket fire; in the exchange of fire that ensued, 17 were killed. One of those was Hussam Zahar, the son of former Palestinian Authority foreign minister and senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. Hamas has declared three days of mourning.


As I write, Avigdor Lieberman is making decisions on whether his party, Yisrael Beitenu, will stay in the coalition. Olmert is pulling out all of the stops to keep him. He has now explained that Liebermazn should stay because of Iran.



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