Before Shabbat I would like to touch upon a number of subjects, some of which may be re-visited next week.
The International Atomic Energy Agency announced on Wednesday that a search of the site in Syria that Israel had bombed revealed “significant” amounts of uranium particles. The agency is stopping short of saying definitively that the bombed building was a reactor, but evidence is sure pointing in that direction.
The IAEA has also indicated that Iran may now have enough low grade enriched uranium to build one bomb. While the uranium would have to be further enriched and the delivery system developed, this information is ominous and deeply troubling. According to the Times of London, intelligence sources are saying this makes it more likely that Israel will hit Iran.
It was revealed on Thursday that Olmert and Barak had paid a secret visit to Amman on Tuesday to speak with King Abdullah, at his invitation, regarding the violence in Gaza. Abdullah says a large scale military operation into Gaza would foment unrest in the region that might unsettle the Hamshemite kingdom.
His position seems to be that the populace of Jordan, which has a Palestinian majority (Abdullah’s Hashemites are a minority), would become restive at the prospect of Israeli action against Palestinians in Gaza. This makes the assumption that the Jordanian street identifies with Hamas. But until very recently the perspective was that it was radicalism — coming from Hamas — that threatened the king’s throne. Growing Hamas influence in Judea and Samaria caused unease in Jordan, which indicated a distinct preference for an IDF presence at its western border. There was a time when the king would have been pleased to see Israel take on Hamas strength.
What has happened is that Jordan — presumably feeling threatened by prospects of a negotiated Palestinian state at its border run by PA forces unable to restrain Hamas — decided to shift its position vis-a-vis Hamas. Thus, Jordan reestablished relations with Hamas in August.
And thus, Abdullah was asking Israel’s leaders to refrain from military operations in Gaza. In fact, according to the very reliable Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post, Abdullah apparently delivered a message from Hamas saying that it wishes to sustain the ceasefire.
Said King Abdullah, the key to stability in the region is an Israeli-Palestinian peace. This irks me no end — for the implication here is that Israel would be remiss in defending herself and should “try harder” to achieve that peace. As if we haven’t already done more than we should have in that direction.
Tzipi Livni obliquely referred to this meeting in a statement saying that while we value our relationship with our neighbors, ultimately we must do what is in Israel’s best interest. According to Abu Toameh, the king was told at the meeting that there were no plans in the near future to take out Hamas in Gaza, but that more limited military actions were possible.
Meanwhile, reports are that the newly introduced, US-trained PA security forces in Hevron have arrested 250 Hamas terror suspects. This is said to be a first. What I wait to hear is that these 250 are tried and imprisoned as appropriate. The usual PA practice is to maintain a revolving door in its prisons.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has announced — most appropriately — that Israel will not be attending the Durban Review Conference, being called Durban II, which is to be held in Geneva in April. Durban I, which was billed as a UN-sponsored conference to combat racism, degenerated into an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic frenzy. The most scurrilous anti-Semitism came from an NGO forum held in tandem with the conference. This second conference is supposed to review progress made on the issues since that first 2001 conference. Evidence is strong that it’s heading in the same direction.
See www.eyeontheUN.org run by Anne Bayefsky for documented information on what is transpiring. On November 8th, Bayefsky reported that the UN preparatory committee for Durban II has released an “outcome document” to be presented at the conference that demonizes Israel and Israel self-determination. What it implies is that Israel is an apartheid racist state that is guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
What is more, the document thwarts efforts to stop terrorism and attacks freedom of expression.
In a parallel effort to delegitimize Israel, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, who won the peace prize in 1976 for her work with Catholics and Protestants in northern Ireland, suggests that the UN should suspect or expel Israel because of the blockade of Gaza.
Why is it that these very self-righteous people never talk about what Hamas is doing to innocents in Israel?
I’ve written extensively on the happenings in Hevron with regard to Beit HaShalom, and so I must touch on this. There are reports now of violence in the area, but the IDF is saying this is the work of “outsiders.” Leadership in Hevron, which is not violent, is seeking to calm matters.
Additionally, MK Uri Ariel (NU) has asked the Shabbak to investigate whether some of their own operators, servings as provocateurs, may be at work here. Lest you imagine this is far-fetched, I assure you that it is not. It has happened before. When a situation is volatile, there are elements who stir matters up and foment violence to blacken the names of those who are protesting a government position.
It is prudent to reserve judgment here until more is known. The weekend will be tense, as thousands of visitors will be coming to Hevron for Shabbat.
This related item is interesting: Shimon Peres, who is in England, has, according to Israel National News, told members of the British parliament that the government was willing to give most of Judea and Samaria to the PA, but it would be difficult to dismantle Jewish towns (in which 250,000 Jews live) without causing civil war. Good that he realizes this.
Hopefully, come February (and elections), the whole issue of an Israeli government ready to give away large swaths of Israel will become moot.
Polls are showing Likud with a substantial lead over Kadima. Depending on the poll, Likud is expected to gain 32-34 seats, with Kadima having 23-26. Labor is way down, with only 8-10 seats. In fact, Meimad has broken with Labor now because it has always received the slot for the 10th seat on a combined list and is now afraid there will be no tenth seat; they will run their own list.
The prediction is that the entire right wing will achieve sufficient seats to comfortably form a coalition. As of yet, however, there is no gain shown in the polls for a combined NU-NRP list.
Livni is gearing up to come out swinging against Likud as elections draw closer.
Netanyahu (sounding strangely like Peres) has been promoting negotiations with the PA based on economics and not political issues. He claims that he can help the Palestinians succeed economically and only this way can peace follow — that more of the same negotiations now are doomed to failure. So be it, if this is his focus and not giving away the land.
Netanyahu has come out against division of Jerusalem, as well.
My information from several quarters is that Uzi Dayan, who was once considerably to the left, has shifted his position to the right. He now sees Oslo has having been a disaster. Dayan has joined Likud.
Uzi Landau, meanwhile, formerly a member of Likud, is moving in another direction. He left Sharon’s cabinet in protest against the disengagement, and now has announced that he is joining Yisrael Beitenu even though he disagrees with some of the positions of party head Avigdor Lieberman. Landau will have the number two slot on the list.