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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Israel Deploying Warships in Red Sea - Iran Following Suit

The IDF on Monday deployed two warships in the red sea Red Sea near the border with Egypt following warnings terrorists are planning another attack on southern Israel from Egyptian soil.

Also on Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ordered increased deployments across the entire southern command, especially near the Israel-Egypt border, increased.

The move, ostensibly due to increased terror warnings, comes concurrent to Israel's agreement to allow Egypt to deploy 1,500 more troops in areas B and C of the Sinai in order to conduct counter-terror operations on the Peninsula. Area A is the sector adjoining the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Israel's south, especially near the border, has been flooded with military forces, deployed in a manner defined by one security source as "unprecedented."

No changes in security alignments were observed on the Egyptian side of the border, but Egyptian security sources did say counter-terror raids were being staged in honor of Eid al-Fatr - the end of Ramadan - due to fears of increased holiday violence.

The IDF has also deployed advanced technology in the area - including UAVs - in order to thwart terror attacks. Military intelligence sources said earlier Tuesday a terror cell left Gaza intending to infiltrate Israel through Sinai.

The security situation in southern Israel has been particularly tense over the past few weeks, following a series of terror attacks that claimed the lives of eight Israelis in mid-August; as well as several days in which Israel's south and western Negev communities suffered heavy shelling by Gaza Strip-based terror groups.

In a provocative move certain to ratchet-up regional tensions, Iranian naval commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told the state-run agency the Islamic Republic is planning to send its 15th fleet to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The Islamic Republic's 15th fleet is comprised of a submarine and a several warships.                              

Sayyari noted that Iran's Navy plans to have "an active presence in the high seas in line with the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei with the purpose of serving the country's interests."

“The presence of Iran's army in the high seas will convey the message of peace and friendship to all countries,” he said.

The Honeymoon is Over - Hamas: Gaza Not Safe for Abbas; Unity Deal Dead

Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar hinted Tuesday there may be attempts on Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas should he visit Gaza.

In an interview with the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, Zahar added Abbas would not be visiting Gaza.

Zahar stressed that Hamas was not interested in jeopardizing the internal security situation in the Gaza Strip should Abbas decide to visit and cause internal Fatah violence to occur as a result of "unsettled accounts."

According to al-Quds al-Arabi, Zahar may have been referring to the ongoing conflict between the Palestinian Authority chairman and ex-Fatah official and strident Abbas critic Muhammad Dahlan.

Recently, pointing out the rampant corruption and fiscal insolvency in Ramallah, Dahlan asserted a $1 billion fund had gone missing since Abbas became president in 2005.

Dahlan's accusation – during which he called Abbas a ‘dictator and a bully’ – came just days after PA security forces raided Dahlan's Ramallah home confiscating documents, weapons, and private luxury vehicles.

Nonetheless, an internal corruption probe launched by the PA has already seen five ministers close to Abbas dismissed for embezzlement and other offenses.

Zahar dismissed attempts by Abbas to rekindle the stalled reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah's leadership as futile, saying of the failed process: "the [reconciliation] agreement was completed [in Cairo], but it's implementation is defunct."

Zahar dismissed any sort of talks that have occurred between officials in Fatah and Hamas of being concerned simply with "peripheral matters."

Hamas’ withdrawal from the reconciliation agreement comes just weeks before the PA makes its statehood bid at the United Nations – and outs the lie to ‘Palestinian unity.’

Many analysts believe Hamas – which has said any agreement with Israel will only serve as a ‘prelude to war’ – is waiting in the wings to seize control of PA enclaves in the event the administration in Ramallah collapses or presents a weak enough target for a putsch.

Also on Tuesday, Sheikh Abu Hader Jaabar the Mukhtar of Hevron told Arutz Sheva Israel made a grave error when it decided to negotiate with the PLO instead of the local tribal leadership.

Israeli Flag Returned to Top of Embassy in Cairo

After being removed twice from embassy building, the Israeli flag is raised once again • Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman: Nation’s ability to protect its symbols is part of its strength.

The Israeli flag was back in place on top of the Israeli Embassy building in Cairo on Monday after being taken down twice in the past week amid demonstrations.

An Egyptian mob crowned a new hero two weeks ago when Ahmed el-Shahat scaled the 15-story Israeli Embassy and tore down the blue-and-white flag. Shahat's act led to his being dubbed “Flagman” and brought him widespread admiration on the Egyptian street. He was even rewarded with a job and an apartment by the governor of the Sharqiyah district northeast of Cairo.

The Egyptian public has voiced its anger over the killing of five Egyptian policemen along the Israel-Egypt border two weeks ago during an Israeli exchange of gunfire with Palestinian terrorists.

Following the killings, angry crowds gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in the Giza quarter of Cairo. Thousands of demonstrators called for “revenge for the death of our Egyptian soldier brothers.” Some called for toppling Israel while others shouted, “Expel the ambassador,” and “Slaughter Jews and Zionists.”

“Our Egyptian brothers are being killed on the border by Zionist soldiers and we must avenge their deaths,” Shahat said at a press conference. “We have to stop selling natural gas to Israel and we need to expel the ambassador and his staff from our country. The Zionists may have gotten along well with [former President Hosni] Mubarak's regime, but there is a new order in Egypt now, one that does not welcome the Israeli enemy. It is unacceptable for the Israeli flag to wave in Cairo.”

After Shahat removed the flag, a new standard was placed on the building the following day, only to be removed once more, this time by Egyptian police in response to the urging of crowds protesting outside the embassy. In what was viewed as an affront to Israel, reports said Egyptian authorities had refused to reinstate the flag because they were reportedly unable to protect it.

Following diplomatic efforts, the flag was raised once again on Monday. “Guarding national symbols is part of a nation's strength,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Shahat's “Flagman” status was being contested by fellow Egyptian Moustafa Kamel, who says he was Shahat's accomplice and that he was in fact the one who took down the Israeli flag. Shahat and Kamel have been comparing stories and debating each on other on Egyptian television to stake their claim as the true Flagman, the report said.

Jordan: PA's September Plan Will Hurt 'Refugees'

While the impression among many Israelis is that the Arab world supports the Palestinian Authority's plan to declare an independent Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and seek UN recognition of it, the truth is that numerous Arab countries oppose it. And the most vocal Arab country opposing the PA's “September plan” has been Jordan, which even threatened to vote against approving the PA state when the UN General Assembly votes on the matter.

A report Tuesday in a Saudi paper said Jordan reiterated its opposition to the plan, and that Jordan's King Abdullah II has communicated his stance to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas several times – to no avail, as Abbas continues to ignore Abdullah's stance on the matter, much to the latter's frustration, the report said.

Jordan contends that if the UN approves the establishment of a PA state before negotiations with Israel are complete, the descendants of Arabs who fled Israel when the state was established in 1948 will lose any chance they have to return to their family's previous homes, or receive compensation.

“The refugees are the only ones who will suffer,” Abdullah stressed to Abbas in a recent message, conveyed through diplomats of another Arab country.

Israel will refuse to negotiate on their status, claiming the PA broke the Oslo agreements, and that Israel is not under any obligation to negotiate the issue any further with the PA, Abdullah was quoted as teling Abbas in the report.

“The refugee issue is the most important one, and they will lose all their rights if the PA declares a state,” Abdullah reportedly said in the message.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that Jordan was not the only Arab country opposed to the PA's plan. “In the coming weeks I am sure we will hear about other leaders criticizing the PA,” he said. “The only way to move forward is for both sides to return to the negotiating table.”

The Perils of a Remilitarized Sinai

By Caroline B. Glick

Under the terms of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Egypt is prohibited from deploying military forces in the Sinai.

Will the Egyptian military be permitted to remilitarize the Sinai? Since Palestinian and Egyptian terrorists crossed into Israel from Sinai on August 18 and murdered eight Israelis this has been a central issue under discussion at senior echelons of the government and the IDF.

Under the terms of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Egypt is prohibited from deploying military forces in the Sinai. Israel must approve any Egyptian military mobilization in the area. Today, Egypt is asking to permanently deploy its forces in the Sinai. Such a move requires an amendment to the treaty.

Supported by the Obama administration, the Egyptians say they need to deploy forces in the Sinai in order to rein in and defeat the jihadist forces now running rampant throughout the peninsula. Aside from attacking Israel, these jihadists have openly challenged Egyptian governmental control over the territory.

So far the Israeli government has given conflicting responses to the Egyptian request. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told The Economist last week that he supports the deployment of Egyptian forces. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he would consider such deployment but that Israel should not rush into amending the peace treaty with Egypt.

Saturday Barak tempered his earlier statement, claiming that no decision had been made about Egyptian deployment in the Sinai.

The government’s confused statements about Egyptian troop deployments indicate that at a minimum, the government is unsure of the best course of action. This uncertainty owes in large part to confusion about Egypt’s intentions.

Egypt’s military leaders do have an interest in preventing jihadist attacks on Egyptian installations and other interests in the Sinai. But does that interest translate into an interest in defending Israeli installations and interests? If the interests overlap, then deploying Egyptian forces may be a reasonable option. If Egypt’s military leaders view these interests as mutually exclusive, then Israel has no interest in such a deployment.

ISRAEL’S CONFUSION over Egypt’s strategic direction and interests echoes its only recently abated confusion over Turkey’s strategic direction in the aftermath of the Islamist AKP Party’s rise to power in 2002. Following the US’s lead, despite Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hostile rhetoric regarding Israel, Israel continued to believe that he and his government were interested in maintaining Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. That belief began unraveling with Erdogan’s embrace of Hamas in January 2006 and his willingness to turn a blind eye to Iranian use of Turkish territory to transfer arms to Hezbollah during the war in July and August 2006.

Still, due to US support for Erdogan, Israel continued to sell Turkey arms until last year. Israel only recognized that Turkey had transformed itself from a strategic ally into a strategic enemy after Erdogan sponsored the terror flotilla to Gaza in May 2010.

As was the case with Turkey under Erdogan, Israel’s confusion over Egypt’s intentions has nothing to do with the military rulers’ behavior. Like Erdogan, the Egyptian junta isn’t sending Israel mixed signals.

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was never a strategic ally to Israel the way that Turkey was before Erdogan. However, Mubarak believed that maintaining a quiet border with Israel, combating the Muslim Brotherhood and keeping Hamas at arm’s length advanced his interests. Mubarak’s successors in the junta do not perceive their interests in the same way.

To the contrary, since they overthrew Mubarak in February, the generals ruling Egypt have made clear that their interest in cultivating ties with Israel’s enemies – from Iran to the Muslim Brotherhood – far outweighs their interest in maintaining a cooperative relationship with Israel.

From permitting Iranian naval ships to traverse the Suez Canal for the first time in 30 years to opening the border with Hamas-ruled Gaza to its openly hostile and conspiratorial reaction to the August 18 terrorist attack on Israel from the Sinai, there can be little doubt about the trajectory of Egypt’s relations with Israel.

BUT JUST as was the case with Turkey – and again, largely because of American pressure – Israel’s leaders are wary of accepting that the strategic landscape of our relationship with Egypt has changed radically and that the rules that applied under Mubarak no longer apply.

After Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, terrorists in Gaza and Sinai took down the border. Gaza was immediately flooded with sophisticated armaments. Then-prime minister Ariel Sharon made a deal with Mubarak to deploy Egyptian forces to the Sinai to rebuild the border and man the crossing point at Rafah. While there were problems with the agreement, given the fact that Mubarak shared Israel’s interests, the move was not unjustified.

Today this is not the case. The junta wants to permanently deploy forces to the Sinai and consequently is pushing to amend the treaty. The generals’ request comes against the backdrop of populist calls from across Egypt’s political spectrum demanding the cancellation of the peace treaty.

If Israel agrees to renegotiate the treaty, it will lower the political cost of a subsequent Egyptian abrogation of the agreement. This is the case because Israel itself will be on record acknowledging that the treaty does not meet its current needs.

Beyond that, there is the nature of the Egyptian military itself, which was exposed during and in the aftermath of the August 18 attack. At a minimum, the Egyptian and Palestinian terrorists who attacked Israel that day did so with no interference from Egyptian forces deployed along the border.

The fact that they shot into Israel from Egyptian military positions indicates that the Egyptian forces on the ground did not simply turn a blind eye to what was happening. Rather, it is reasonable to assume that they lent a helping hand to the terror operatives.

Furthermore, the hostile response of the Egyptian military to Israel’s defensive operations to end the terror attack indicates that at a minimum, the higher echelons of the military are not sympathetically disposed towards Israel’s right to defend its citizens.

Both the behavior of the forces on the ground and of their commanders in Cairo indicates that if the Egyptian military is permitted to deploy its forces to the Sinai, those forces will not serve any helpful purpose for Israel.

THE MILITARY’S demonstrated antagonism toward Israel, the uncertainty of Egypt’s political future, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the hatred of Israel shared by all Egyptian political factions all indicate that Israel will live to regret it if it permits the Egyptian military to mobilize in the Sinai. Not only will Egyptian soldiers not prevent terrorist attacks against Israel, their presence along the border will increase the prospect of war with Egypt.

Egypt’s current inaction against anti-Israel terror operatives in the Sinai has already caused the IDF to increase its force levels along the border. If Egypt is permitted to mass its forces in the Sinai, then the IDF will be forced to respond by steeply increasing the size of its force mobilized along the border. And the proximity of the two armies could easily be exploited by Egyptian populist forces to foment war.

In his interview with The Economist, Barak claimed bizarrely, “Sometimes you have to subordinate strategic considerations to tactical needs.” It is hard to think of any case in human history when a nation’s interests were served by winning a battle and losing a war. And the stakes with Egypt are too high for Israel’s leaders to be engaging in such confused and imbecilic thinking.

The dangers emanating from post-Mubarak Egypt are enormous and are only likely to grow. Israel cannot allow its desire for things to be different to cloud its judgment. It must accept the situation for what it is and act accordingly.

Jerusalem Post Writer Fired for Justifying Palestinian Terror

Good for the Jerusalem Post.

Today (August 29,  2011) the Post’s in-house radical leftist opinion writer, Larry Derfner, was fired today for actually justifying Palestinian terrorism against innocent Israeli citizens as a means of “resistance.” The invaluable Israel Matzav found a piece by Isi Leibler in a rival paper, Israel Hayom, that deserves wide exposure. Derfner, who writes on his blog, “I was fired from the Jerusalem Post today,” is well on his way to becoming a martyr on the anti-Israel feverswamp blogs and soon, no doubt, may even have an elementary school named after him in Gaza or Ramallah.

Leibler’s piece is essential reading:

Today, both in Israel and abroad, there are Jews who retain the wretched tradition of these renegade predecessors and identify with those who seek to destroy their people. They are few in number, but their influence extends beyond their Jewish fringe status because many occupy prominent roles in universities, the media and the arts. Of late, much of the Western liberal media has been promoting and idolizing them.

A few days ago, I was alerted to an unprecedented and obscene extension of such behavior, emanating, to my profound regret, from Larry Derfner, a senior professional staff writer for the Jerusalem Post. Only days after Israeli infants and families were brutally murdered by terrorists near Eilat, Derfner publicly stated that the murder of Israeli citizens was a justifiable weapon for Palestinians to employ in order to overcome the “occupation.”

…Whereas Derfner is regarded as an in-house leftist opinion writer for the Jerusalem Post, his chilling outburst extends way beyond traditional far-Left efforts to apply moral equivalence between Israelis and terrorists. In fact, Derfner actually scolds those on the Left who condemn Palestinian terrorism.

To avoid any misunderstanding, let me be specific about what Derfner actually said. He asserted that in fighting for their “independence” Palestinian terrorists are “justified” in targeting and deliberately murdering innocent Israeli women and children. He even explicitly said that “whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack” and it was the Israeli government that was “to blame for those eight Israeli deaths.” He opined that it was high time for Israelis to appreciate “that terrorism in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government is justified … even to kill Israelis.”

He stated that while he endorsed the right of Palestinians “to use terrorism against us,” he did not wish to see Israelis killed and like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he felt that terrorism (while justifiable) can be counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. However Israeli “blindness” was “compelling the Palestinians to engage in terrorism” and by exposing the “unjust” Israeli government as being “to blame for these Israeli deaths,” it would contribute to “ending the occupation.”

Derfner conceded that such remarks would encourage Hamas, but was not unduly concerned because Hamas was already committed to Israel’s destruction. It was more important for him to ensure that Israelis recognized that by their behavior, “they are compelling Palestinians to engage in terrorism,” rather than worrying about whether his remarks would be quoted approvingly on Hamas websites. In fact, the Arab media has already widely reproduced his remarks, highlighting the fact that he is a prominent Jerusalem Post contributor.

Derfner concluded his shocking remarks with the extraordinary statement, “Writing this is not treason. It is patriotism.” That a person justifying the murder of innocent women and children in his own country can describe himself as a “patriot” makes one question his sanity.
Derfner yelling at pro-Israel activists

In a twisted sense, Derfner is probably right in that his remarks are not treasonous. Although there may very well be grounds for the attorney-general to charge him with incitement to murder, his remarks are so vile that they go beyond treason. They display an utter lack of sensitivity, humanity or compassion for the tens of thousands of Israeli families who, since the creation of Israel, have lost loved ones, murdered by the barbarians whose actions Derfner justifies as being due to “harsh” Israeli government policies.

How Rick Perry helped stop the Gaza 'freedom flotillas'

Believe it or not, Texas Governor Rick Perry had a hand in preventing those pesky Gaza-bound "Freedom Flotillas" from ever reaching Israeli waters.

Perry, a devout Christian who loves the Jewish state, has taken many trips to Israel -- more than any other Republican candidate, in fact. While on one of those tours, Perry met Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, co-founder ofShurat HaDin, an Israeli law center. 

"I once spoke at a mission that Perry took part in, in Israel," Darshan-Leitner recently told Commentary's Alana Goodman. "And he approached me and said, 'I love what you do. It's amazing what you do. If you ever need help combating Israel's enemies, I'm here to assist.' "

Perry made good on that promise in July, when a cohort of liberal activists boarded a Gaza-bound aid boat with the goal of breaching Israel's maritime blockade of the Gaza strip.

Several of the activists aboard the flotilla happened to be Americans, and upon realizing this, Shurat HaDin's crack lawyers took action, according to Goodman. They charged that the U.S. citizens were in violation of the Neutrality Act, a law that prohibits Americans from participating in hostile acts against allied countries.

"So we approached the Attorney General of the United States to fix it," Darshan-Leitner told Goodman. "And we also got Gov. Rick Perry to write a letter to [Attorney General] Eric Holder."

Ultimately, nine of the 10 boats that participated in the Israel-bashing exercise never made it to the Jewish state, thanks in part to Governor Rick Perry.

Another Day, Another Rocket - Gaza Terror Groups Acquire Weapons from Libya - IDF Ambulance Attacked with Molotov Cocktail

A Kassam rocket fired from Gaza exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council on Monday evening.

No physical injuries or property damage were reported.

The rocket is the first fired into Israel from Gaza today in what has become a status quo event since the deadly bus attack that left 8 Israelis dead ten days ago.. It was fired in spite of a ceasefire called by the terror groups over the weekend.

Last week two such cease-fires unilaterally declared by Hamas and Islamic Jihad were broken by their terror operatives firing rockets within hours of their implementation.

The last rocket fired from Gaza at Israel's south on Sunday night. It landed in an open area in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. No physical injuries or properly damages were reported.

Also Sunday, a Grad missile landed in the Bnei Shimon Regional Council not far from Beersheba. Once again, No physical injuries or properly damages were reported.

The radical Islamist Tawhid al-Jihad terror group took responsibility for the attacks.

Critics of the Netanyahu governments decision to maintain the airstrike-for-rocket-attack paradigm that has come to symbolize the security situation in the south say Israel cannot continue to rely on miracles to protect its citizens. Last week a 9-month old infant was injured by shrapnel in a Gaza rocket attack.

However, some analysts suggest the government is waiting to see how the security situation vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority enclaves in Judea and Samaria develops following the PA statehood bid at the UN in September - as well as in the Sinai - before committing forces to a major operation.

Nonetheless, it is increasingly clear Israel's current strategic stance on Gaza has proven ineffective in stopping terror attacks on its citizens.
Weapons confiscated from Gaza smugglers
Weapons confiscated from Gaza smugglers

Terror groups based in Gaza have acquired anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets from Libya during its six-month civil war, Israeli officials told Reuters on Monday.

The officials said the weapons from Libya have enlarged but not significantly improved the arsenal in Gaza. They emphasized that while the rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi has stirred concern abroad about the fate of Libya’s chemical weapons stockpiles, there is no indication Hamas or other Gaza-based terror groups have sought these.

They noted, however, that an inflow of SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) has been detected as entering Gaza. One official described an overland supply route that opened up between eastern Libya, after it fell to the rebels, and the Gaza Strip via Egypt.

“We've been seeing more SA-7s and RPGs coming across,” the official told Reuters, adding: “It’s not a major qualitative enhancement for them.”

Another Israeli official told the news agency that “thousands” of the weapons had reached Gaza in recent months but did not provide figures on how many had originated in Libya.

Smuggling of weapons meant for Gaza terror groups is a major concern for Israel, particularly with the anarchy in the Sinai Peninsula and the infiltration of terror groups into the region following the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt, which has been attempting to crackdown on terror groups in the Sinai, deployed 1,500 more troops in the region on Monday following an agreement with Israel to increase the number of Egyptian troops in the peninsula’s areas B and C.

The entire area is on alert, and the IDF has beefed up its presence in the south amid a report that Islamic Jihad terrorists from Gaza are planning to attack from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.


Last night, in response to reports of a serious car accident on the road toward a arab area in Judea and Samaria, IDF paramedics sped off in order to aid the injured. Their mission came to an abrupt halt, however, when they were attacked; a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the ambulance they were riding in. Undeterred, they continued on their mission: to provide emergency care to all residents of Judea and Samaria, whether Israeli or arab.

Eilat on High Alert for Possible Terrorist Attack

Israeli soldiers and security personnel scoured the Negev Desert Monday night, searching for terrorists in the Eilat area.

The IDF was operating on high alert over the possibility of an attack in the same area in which eight people were murdered and 40 others were wounded in a multi-pronged terrorist operation less than two weeks ago.

The attack, carried out by the Palestinian Authority's Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) terrorist organization, ignited a daily barrage of rocket and mortar attacks launched from Gaza that has since sent families racing for bomb shelters across southern Israel.

Extra personnel were out in force patrolling the Eilat area Monday night. Instructions were also issued to drivers on the roads on what to do in case of an attack, according to a report broadcast on Channel 2 TV.

In addition, some 1,500 additional Egyptian security personnel were authorized by Israel to enter the Sinai Peninsula to search for terrorist gangs who were reported to be in the area, Voice of Israel state-run radio reported earlier in the day.

Egypt Deploys More Troops in Sinai

Egypt deployed 1,500 more troops in the Sinai Peninsula on Monday following an agreement with Israel to increase the number of Egyptian troops in the peninsula's areas B and C, London-based al Hayat reported.

Former Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Muhammed Basioni told the newspaper "the Egypt-Israel peace treaty provides in clause 4 that each one of the sides can amend the security arrangements if the other side agrees to it."

"Egypt relied on this article – which prohibits the entrance of Egyptian military forces into area C and allows only police force presence – in order to amend its deployment arrangements in the area," he said.

According to Basioni, "In 2008, Palestinians infiltrated Egypt from the Gaza Strip. Egypt then asked for the deployment of 750 border guard officers and the request was granted.

"Following recent security developments in Sinai, the authorities decided to launch a wide-scale security operation with large military and police forces, and to that end we requested to scour the area between Rafah, al-Arish and Sheikh Zawid," the former ambassador said.

"We've reinforced our deployment to 1,500 soldiers and armored vehicles in areas B and C," stated Basioni without saying when the forces entered the area.

At the beginning of the year, the Israeli government unexpectedly decided to allow the Egyptian army to deploy 800 soldiers in the peninsula, for the first time since signing the peace agreement more than three decades ago. Last month Israel allowed a further deployment in the name of counter-terror operations.

But the move may not go unchallenged. Last week Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin challenged Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to allow Egypt to deploy tanks and helicopters in the Sinai saying such a move may require Knesset approval.   

Rivlin noted that adjusting deployments along the Philadephia Corridor when Israel controlled Gaza required such approval.

In the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, the Sinai Peninsula was declared as a demilitarized zone and was divided into areas A, B and C, with the latter only open to international peacekeepers and Egyptian civilian police forces.

Anti-Israel sentiments, demands to nullify the Camp David Accords, and demands for return of territory ceded to Israel under the accords, have grown in Egypt since the January 25 ouster of long-term President Hosni Mubarak. Fears that the deployment may be a ploy similar to that of Gamal Abdul Nasser before the 1967 war are being voiced by some commentators.

Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has ordered a reinforcement of army presence on the Israel-Egypt border, ostensibly due to increased terror warnings in the area.

Report: US Threatens Cairo Aid Money Over Grapel, Tensions

Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm reported Monday that Israel is behind a US bid to force Cairo to reduce tensions with Israel following a deadly border incident wherein at least three Egyptian soldiers were inadvertently killed by Israeli soldiers pursuing terrorists involved in a deadly terror attack that left 8 Israelis dead.

According to the report Washington has threatened to reduce aid to Cairo - which it was planning to dramatically increase - unless it releases Ilan Grapel, an Israeli-American tourist in Egypt who has been accused of being a Mossad spy. 

Grapel was arrested at his downtown Cairo hotel by Egyptian state security officers in June on suspicion of working for Israeli intelligence to foment sectarian strife and gather intelligence on post-revolution Egypt.

The Emory University Law student, and dual Israeli-American citizen, traveled to Egypt this summer as part of his work for a charity helping African refugees.

His family, friends and the Israeli government have categorically denied that he was working as a spy in Egypt.

Earlier in the month, Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Yasser Rida said that there had been no new developments in Grapel's case, Israel Radio reported.

The paper also quoted Egyptian security expert Hamdi Bekheit as saying Israel was behind the move by the US in a bid to pressure Egypt to reduce its demands stemming for the border incident ten days ago.

The move comes on the heels of a vocal debate in the Egyptian parliament over whether Cairo should demand the return of the port city of Eilat, which Egypt ceded to Israel in the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

It also comes as Egyptians demand the nullification of the accords and the re-militarization of the Sinai, which Washington has said it opposes out of concern such a move would destabilize the region – and possibly lead to war.

Lieberman: Israel will cut ties with PA if it makes statehood bid - Poll: Israeli Youth Identifies with the Right

In a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declares that he would work to cut off all relations with the Palestinians immediately, says he has “some influence” on government decisions • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Unilateral declaration would be a clear violation of past agreements.

If the Palestinian Authority goes forward with its unilateral declaration of statehood at the U.N. General Assembly in September, Israel's Foreign Ministry would see the move as grounds for cutting ties with the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday.

Lieberman made the comment during a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who is on a visit to Israel.

“If the Palestinians make a unilateral declaration, I will work to ensure that Israel cuts off relations immediately,” Lieberman told Store, emphasizing that there was no official decision on the matter but that he had “some influence” on government decisions of this type.

Lieberman said that Israelis unanimously believe that a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood would violate all standing agreements between the parties and render them void.

“It can't be that in the morning the Palestinians cooperate, and then, in the evening, they sue us at the International Court of Justice in The Hague,” Lieberman told Store.

Lieberman is slated to meet on Tuesday with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is in the region to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an effort to restart peace talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also met with the Norwegian foreign minister on Sunday. He opened the meeting by saying, “The Palestinian move to unilaterally declare statehood in the U.N. is a clear violation of their obligations from past agreements signed with Israel.”


A new poll whose results were released on Monday has found that most youth in Israel tend to identify with the right side of the political map.

According to the results reported on Channel 10 News, 17% of high school students believe that Israel’s next Prime Minister should be Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu). Lieberman is followed by journalist Yair Lapid (who has not officially announced he is running for politics but who has openly expressed his desire to rebuild his late father’s, Tommy Lapid’s militantly secular, left-of-center Shinui party), who got 13%. Current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received only 8%.

“There are an additional three percent who mentioned Kahane, [Baruch] Marzel and [National Union MK Michael] Ben Ari,” Professor Camille Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, who conducted the poll, told Channel 10.

The poll also found that the youth would give the Likud party 26 seats in the next election, Kadima would receive 23 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu would receive 22 seats, and the Labor party would receive only five seats.

75% of the teenagers polled said they are opposed to removing Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and 60% believe Israel would be better off by giving up on a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority that would include giving Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods to the PA.

On another major issue, 83% of the youth said they would prefer that Israel not sign a peace treaty with Syria if it calls for the return of the Golan Heights.

“We’ve tried reaching peace agreements and it hasn’t worked,” one teenager told Channel 10. “Maybe we need to take measures that are more aggressive.”

MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) welcomed the results and said, “Israeli youth is a healthy youth and the left and the media cannot spoil it. The youth has had enough of surrender and humiliation and they want a different policy toward the enemy.”

PA 'Condemns Attacks on Civilians' After Tel Aviv Stabbings

The Palestinian Authority announced Monday it does not support terrorist attacks on civilians after a lone terrorist from Shechem stabbed eight people  at a Tel Aviv nightclub overnight.

“The presidency condemns all attacks on civilians, including the incident in Tel Aviv early this morning,” announced the PA in a statement issued by the Ramallah government.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted the "deafening silence" of the Palestinian Authority in response to a bloody multi-pronged terrorist attack on August 18 which left eight Israelis dead and 40 others wounded. Netanyahu commented that such a silence raised serious questions about the PA's readiness for independence. The entity's silence was especially troubling in light of the fact that the attack was carried out by the Palestinian Authority's Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization.

The PA statement issued today (Monday) also condemned the recent IDF air strikes against Gaza terrorists as they launched rocket attacks at southern Israeli communities, and its counter terrorism operations in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. 

The Ramallah government also underscored the importance of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly session in September. “Nothing will prevent us from achieving our goal,” [however] the statement added, according to Channel 10. The PA was referring to its upcoming bid for the United Nations to recognize the entity as a new country and to grant it membership in the international body.

The terrorist was blocked Sunday night from carrying out a far more lethal attack, by a Border Guard police officer at a checkpoint stationed near HaOman 17. The 20-year-old Shechem resident who carried out the attack got into a taxi at the entrance to Salameh Street, stabbed the driver in the hand and hijacked the vehicle, driving it straight towards the club about a kilometer away.

The place was packed with high school-age teens attending a “back to school” bash when the terrorist rammed the car into the police barrier protecting the club. Several security officers on the scene were seriously injured, along with a number of civilians. Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told reporters the perpetrator, whose identity has not yet been released, was immediately apprehended. He was taken to Wolfson Medical Center for injuries sustained during his arrest.

Support Peace: Oppose Palestinian UN Gambit

Once again, the Palestinians, with the help of their international enablers, are about to shoot themselves in the foot – or worse.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Palestinian leadership will soon turn to the UN to seek support for unilateral recognition of statehood.
Since Washington has indicated it will veto any effort in the Security Council, the Palestinians will look to the General Assembly (GA).
The GA cannot admit a new state to the UN, but can elevate the Palestinians’ current status to non-member observer state. It can also offer symbolic support, by majority vote, for a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital.
For those interested in a two-state outcome, the Palestinian gambit should be opposed. The strategy is self-defeating. And the sooner the Palestinians get the message, especially from key democratic countries whose support they crave, the more likely they are to reconsider.
First, it does an end-run around face-to-face talks. Responsible political leaders should be encouraging the Palestinians to return to the table with Israel, not undermining the prospect of direct negotiations. No lasting peace can emerge by trying to force Israel’s hand through GA resolutions.
And speaking of hands, Israel’s has been extended in peace, through successive governments, yet the Palestinians have always managed to spurn it, while counting on their supporters to embrace unthinkingly every imaginable excuse.
Second, if a Palestinian state is recognized along the 1967 lines (in point of fact, nothing more than the 1949 armistice lines), this undermines UN Security Council Resolution 242 and 338 and the Camp David Accords, which call for a negotiated outcome and do not predetermine final boundaries.
Indeed, think about it. Once the GA endorses a Palestinian state’s borders, then, in the real world, how will the Palestinians ever climb down from that tree to accept the territorial adjustments diplomats know will be required to address the minimum needs of both sides – not just one party – to reach a deal?
Third, countries that support the Palestinian strategy may well contribute to a resurgence of violence.
After all, when Palestinians on the street realize that no UN General Assembly vote will actually produce a state, how long will it be before disappointment turns to protests and more? And when they grasp that annual US aid of about $500 million may come to a screeching halt, as Congress has already indicated, what then?
Why feed false expectations?
Fourth, to be a state entails certain criteria, including control of defined borders.
Can PA President Abbas legitimately claim control over the West Bank, where unresolved issues with Israel remain, and Gaza?
If he says yes to the latter, for instance, he acknowledges a partnership with Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza. But Hamas is a terrorist organization that has not met any of the three conditions for engagement set by the Quartet, including, notably, the UN.
If he says no, then he seeks to include Gaza in his envisioned state, but has no actual control over it, which is, in fact, currently the case.
Even if the GA vote is largely symbolic, countries should consider carefully if “Palestine” today has the necessary elements of statehood. And they should do it for a larger reason as well – they may be creating a precedent that could come back to haunt them.
After all, this is not the only case of disputed territory. If every secessionist, insurgent, or so-called independence group felt it might get validation from the UN General Assembly, regardless of actual conditions on the ground, all hell could break loose. Some affected countries smugly feel they can avoid the outcome through deft – read strong-arm – diplomacy. Perhaps yes, perhaps no. We’ll see.
And fifth, a GA vote would send precisely the wrong message to Israel. It would say we are prepared to: (a) ignore your vital interests in the process, (b) overlook your determined efforts to reach a negotiated two-state agreement, (c) hand over, among other land, Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter and sacred Western Wall to Palestinian control, and (d) reinforce your long-held distrust of the world body, whose automatic majority today won’t give Israel a fair hearing.
At the end of the day, of course, that majority will support whatever the Palestinians decide to do. It’s simply the way the UN works. The Arab League (22 members), Organization of the Islamic Conference (56 members), and Non-Aligned Movement (118 members) have the numbers. With rare exceptions, they robotically go along with every Palestinian whim, however counter-factual or counter-productive.
Still, the Palestinians don’t simply want the vote of the likes of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Rather, they seek the endorsement of democratic countries, especially the 27-member European Union. A few EU states, including Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Romania, have declared their opposition, but, disturbingly, most are playing their cards close to the vest.
To support the Palestinians at the UN offers the path of least diplomatic resistance, some nations conclude. If we vote against Israel, as a practical matter, nothing will happen to us. But if we stand with Israel, the price can be high. Look at Canada, they say, which lost its bid last year for a Security Council seat because it voted with Israel rather than succumb to the herd mentality.
Even if we are not keen on the Palestinian strategy, as many top officials from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America have told visiting AJC groups behind closed doors, do we really want to have the automatic majority block our aspirations in the UN system? And could there also be bilateral consequences (energy, investments, trade, etc.) for taking a principled stand on such a vote? In actuality, Israel’s foes at the UN don’t play according to Hoyle.
We’ll know soon enough how countries line up.
And then we’ll have a pretty good sense of what democratic nations have the courage to embrace principle in the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace, and what countries are ready to throw it to the wind.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Six Injured in Terror Attack in Tel Aviv

Six people were injured in a terror attack in southern Tel Aviv overnight Sunday.

The attack occurred after an Arab terrorist stole a taxi, ran over a man and lightly injured him, then stabbed several other people at the corner of Abarbanel and Salame Streets in the city.

Magen David Adom reported that one person was stabbed in the head and stomach and was very seriously injured, two people were moderately injured and two others were lightly injured. They were all taken to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Voice of Israel radio reported that the attack took place near a popular Tel Aviv night club, and that the terrorist approached a police barricade that had been set up in the area, calling out "Allah Akhbar" as he first tried to run over, and then stabbed the officers at the barricade. It was also reported that he refused to heed the officers' calls for him to stop.

The terrorist was lightly injured as police apprehended him and was taken to the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

Police are investigating the incident, and a preliminary investigation has found that the terrorist is a 25-year-old who came from the Shechem area. He initially made his way to Yafo, where he entered the taxi, stabbed the driver and stole the car. He then made his way towards southern Tel Aviv. It is believed that he intended to carry out the terror attack inside the night club but the police barricade prevented him from doing so.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino arrived early Monday morning on the scene of the terror attack and said that the deployment of border police near the night club which was targeted prevented a greater tragedy.

"The incident was further proof of the motivation of terrorists to attack," Danino said, adding: "We will continue our deployment of extra forces, as we have done for the last two weeks."