Saturday, April 22, 2006

[imra] Daily digest - Volume: 2 Issue: 1376 (11 messages)

imra Sat Apr 22 00:24:45 2006 Volume 2 : Issue 1376

In this issue of the imra daily Digest:

UK FM Straw: "some movement" by PA needed
Israel adopts "speak loudly and
carry small stick" policy [Yediot Ahronot]
Mideast 'axis' forms against West: Syria, Iran,
Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad
[Fruits of retreat] Sense of forfeiture near Gaza
MK Yuval Steinitz: We could lose the next war
Yoel Marcus reviews reality
- then renews retreat call despite it
New Hamas security chief vows to fight Israel
Interim PM Olmert Holds Ministeria
Discussion on Falashmura Immigration to Israel
Excerpts: Syria source of arms for Hamas.
Press freedom in the Arab world.21 April 2006
PA official praises Samhadana
Official: No letter received from Abbas annulling security


Subject: UK FM Straw: "some movement" by PA needed




Jack Straw is in Saudi Arabia. He's discussing among other things the
European Union decision to suspend funding to the Hamas led Government of
the Palestinian Authority.

As it happens there's a Hamas delegation in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, at
the same time looking for money to make up the shortfall and a little
earlier I asked Mr Straw how he would convince his hosts they shouldn't help
the Hamas Government financially.

What I've done is to explain the position of the European Union which is
that we like the Saudi Government have no intention of punishing the
Palestinian people for a decision which they did democratically and freely
make to elect a Government of, based upon Hamas.

But, we in the United Kingdom, we in the European Union have
responsibilities to our tax payers. We have to be assured that money which
we have been paying up to now in very large quantities, and the European
Union including the United Kingdom, is the largest donor of all to the
Palestinian Authority, that money is going for the purposes intended. For
example, to pay teachers, doctors, nurses and security personnel and is not
going to be filtered in to an organisation which, by its own (indistinct)
partly funds terrorism.

That's the issue for us and what we're also, let, let me say this too about
half the money which the European Union and the United Kingdom has been
paying continues to be paid because that goes to United Nations agencies and
non governmental organisations. Hilary Benn and I are actively looking at
ways in which we can assure the other half of the money can safely go to the
purposes intended.

But as we understand it, Hamas are in town too. They want the Saudi
Government to make up the shortfall left by the fact that the European Union
is no longer going to be providing the funds that it did. You're quite happy
are you to see the Saudi Government do that?

That's a matter for them. They've got to make their own decisions about
(indistinct) .

(Indistinct) but you must have a view on it .

.but the truth is that the European Union and the United Kingdom are such
large donors that it's very unlikely in practice that any of the other
donors in the region are going to be able to make up the shortfall.
Moreover, what we're seeking to do is buy a temporary suspension of our
funding of the Palestinian Authority to secure some change in approach by
that Authority.

It is our hope that we can resume the funding of the Palestinian Authority.
That's also the hope of the European Union. But there has to be some
movement by the new Palestinian Authority and some recognition that with the
power of Government which they now have goes responsibilities and those
responsibilities include an understanding you can not have a democratic
Government which at the same time is sponsoring and supporting terrorism.
And that there has to be some contin, continuity of Government and that
includes a recognition of the fact that Israel exists, not a celebration of
that by any means, and to a continuation of the agreements that the
Palestinian Authority's entered in to.

Yes, sorry to pursue this but if that's your objective then surely the
objective is undermined if Saudi Arabia gives money to Hamas.

Well Saudi's always given money to Hamas and there's nothing new in that. We
are not, and I, I just say that because of the size of the funding that has
come from the European Union and United Kingdom. We are ourselves the second
largest bilateral donor and always have been after the United States, it is
unlikely that other states in this region will in fact fill the shortfall.
So I understand the point you are making to me but I don't in practice think
it's going to be an issue.


On another front, are your hosts worried by what's happening in Iran?

Yes, there's always been concern in Saudi Arabia and in the Arab world about
problems in Iran. I've talked at great length to Prince Saud al Faisal and
indeed to Crown Prince Sultan who I saw earlier yesterday about the
situation in Iran. I was able to brief Saudi Government representatives
about the work of the so called E3, the Germany, France and the United
Kingdom and the meeting of our political directors which has taken place in
Moscow yesterday.

That meeting considered the question of what to do next if Iran doesn't bow
to pressure from the Security Council. I can think, of no single serious
commentator who suggests they will.

Well we're working on the basis that Iran will not meet the proposals from
the Security Council or the, the thirty day deadline but.

So what next?

.negotiating with the Iranians takes a kind of rondo form so you never quite
know what's going to happen. But what would be most likely to happen is the
matter will move back to the Security Council and there'll then be
discussions about the next steps which the international community will
take. But we have to wait .

There's no sign of any bending at all is there?

Well they have responded more than I think people see. For example they were
threatening total withdrawal from the operation of the Inspectors. That
actually hasn't happened. I think Iran is feeling some of the pressure as
well as its President making belligerent statements.

What we will wait for here is the report from Dr Mohammed ElBaradei, the
Director General of the International Atomic Agency. See what he says about
Iran's compliance or non compliance with the obligations imposed on it by
the IAEA and then consider the next steps that we will take.

But the Iranians need understand this - that at each stage they have
calculated they can split the international community. At each stage,
although it has taken a lot of work, they've simply ended up with [the]
international community more united in its concern to ensure full compliance
by the Iranians. And that actually is of great concern to many more sensible
Iranians. I note the recent remarks by former President Rafsanjani in that

Well they have split the (indistinct) international community a bit haven't
they? You have always been absolutely categoric on the question of military
force. You said it's inconceivable. The White House refuses to rule it out.

I don't regard that in practice as a split. I obviously understand that
there's a difference of, of use of words there (indistinct) .

What is it then?

Well because in practice I, I've always acknowledged that the United States
Government formally is in a different position from that of the European
Governments on this theoretical issue about the use of force. But in
practice both the Americans and the Europeans and Russia and China are
committed to finding a diplomatic solution to this issue.


Subject: Israel adopts "speak loudly and
carry small stick" policy [Yediot Ahronot]

[Yediot Ahronot]

Israel adopts "speak loudly and carry small stick" policy
Aaron Lerner Date: 20 April 2006

Headline on front page of today's edition of Yediot Ahronot:

"The response to the attack:

Broad military operation - no,

Information campaign - yes"

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730


Subject: Mideast 'axis' forms against West: Syria, Iran,
Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad

Mideast 'axis' forms against West
Iran is forging closer ties with countries and groups in the Middle East
that share its hostility toward the US and Israel.
By Nicholas Blanford Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor April
20, 2006

BEIRUT, LEBANON - Rising tension between the West and Iran is coinciding
with the emergence of a loose anti-Western alliance - Israel now dubs it an
"axis of terror" - spanning the Middle East, presenting a new challenge to
the US's regional ambitions.

Centered on Iran, this alignment has hardened in recent months, analysts
say, with Tehran shoring up old alliances and strengthening ties with
countries (Syria and Iraq) and with groups (Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic
Jihad) that share its hostility toward Israel and the US.

"The alliance that is emerging in this part of the world is a creation of
Iran," says Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst. "It wants to bolster
its position by allying itself with countries or groups that can temporarily
enhance its regional role and influence."

On Tuesday, Israel's UN envoy Dan Gillerman dubbed this alliance the "new
axis of terror" following a suicide bombing claimed by the Iranian-funded
Islamic Jihad in Tel Aviv the previous day that killed nine Israelis.

"A dark cloud is looming above our region, and it is metastasizing as a
result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria, and the
newly elected government of the Palestinian Authority," Mr. Gillerman said.

The alliance, which is ad hoc and tactical rather than a formalized
strategic pact, includes Syria and groups such as Lebanon's Hizbullah, the
Iran-backed militant Shiite organization, radical Palestinian organizations
such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine-General Command as well as some Iraqi allies.

So far the strategy appears to be working in their favor. Hizbullah has
become one of the most influential players in Lebanon and looks set to
retain its military wing for the foreseeable future.

Iran has rarely appeared more resolute, boasting of its success in uranium
enrichment and expressing near daily defiance toward the US. Damascus is
gaining confidence with a slackening of international pressure lately amid
concerns that a collapse of Syria's Baathist regime could trigger Iraq-style

"The Syrians are very supportive of Iran and very supportive of Hamas and
Hizbullah," says Mr. Moubayed. "Almost everybody in Syria is praising
[Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad's alliance with Iran as a very smart
move. Many are saying that the alliance with [Iranian President Mahmoud]
Ahmadinejad was not political suicide after all."

Iran is the driving force behind the alliance, its strategic position in the
region enhanced by the US-led effort to oust Tehran's Taliban enemy in
Afghanistan to the east and its Baathist foe in Iraq to the west.

Over the weekend, Iran hosted a three-day conference in support of the
Palestinians, pledging $50 million to the newly elected Hamas government and
reaffirming its ties to other rejectionist Palestinian groups.

"This is an anti-America alliance," says Joshua Landis, professor of history
at the University of Oklahoma and author of, who spent 2005
living in Damascus. "My guess is that the US will end up in a weaker
position than it started. The war on terror has alienated the Muslim
countries who now believe that America is the big bad ogre and specter of

A year ago, Syria's strategic position looked grim, having been forced to
disengage from neighboring Lebanon, ending 15 years of domination. Hizbullah
also was feeling the squeeze amid the departure of its Syrian protector and
a growing clamor for its disarmament from the party's Lebanese opponents.

But the election in August of the confrontational Mr. Ahmadinejad as
president of Iran reinvigorated the long-standing relationship between
Tehran and Damascus. Syria is the geostrategic linchpin connecting Tehran to
its Lebanese protege, Hizbullah, and was also regarded by Iran as the weak
link in the chain, one that required buttressing.

A newly emboldened Syria began to display greater defiance against
international pressure. In November, Mr. Assad asserted in a speech that
"the region [faces] two choices: either resistance and steadfastness or
chaos. There is no third choice.

"If they believe that they [the West] can blackmail Syria, we tell them they
got the wrong address," he said.

A series of Middle East elections also bolstered the emerging alliance. In
late December, Shiite factions close to Tehran dominated the Iraqi
elections. The following month, Hamas triumphed in the Palestinian
elections, granting Iran greater leverage in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.

In mid-January, Assad hosted a summit in Damascus with Ahmadinejad, the
Iranian president's first state visit. Also attending were the leaders of
Hizbullah and several anti-Israel Palestinian groups in what analysts
regarded as an affirmation of the anti-Western axis.

"The meeting between Ahmadinejad and Assad," commented Sateh Noureddine of
Lebanon's As Safir newspaper at the time, "did not come as a sign of defeat,
but rather as a joint warning to the world. A warning that the alliance
between the two neighbors is on its way to becoming stronger."

The alliance includes the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, who in visits to
Tehran and Damascus in January and February vowed to come to the defense "by
all possible means" of Iran and Syria if attacked by the US.

There is a commercial dimension, too. In February, Iran and Syria inked
sweeping economic and trade agreements including one establishing gas, oil,
railroad, and electrical links between Syria and Iran via Iraq. Both
countries are looking to the emerging economic powerhouses of Asia to build
new trade ties as an alternative to Europe and the West.

"Syria has been signing oil and gas contracts with India, China, and
Russia," says Mr. Landis, the Syria expert. "Syria and Iran are thinking
they can build Iraq into their northern tier, building gas and oil pipelines
across the region."


Subject: [Fruits of retreat] Sense of forfeiture near Gaza

Sense of forfeiture near Gaza

Residents of communities near Gaza disappointed by IDF failure to reinforce
homes against Qassams
Matan Tzouri YNET 21 April 2006,7340,L-3241998,00.html

Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip have lost hope: Just over
half a year since the disengagement, and their homes, some of which lie a
couple of hundreds of meters from Qassam launch pads, have become a fire

Hundreds of Qassam rockets were fired into these communities in the last few
months. Promises of fortified roofs and sealed rooms proved to be nothing
but sweet talk.

At the exception of one community, nothing happened.

"We are like geese in fire range," residents told Isreal's leading
newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. "No one cares what's happening here. No one.
The state has abandoned us."

A series of military measures, raging from targeted assassinations to firing
artillery rounds at Qassam launch pads, and lately a brief

IDF incursion into Gaza, did little to halt Qassam fire.

IDF sources said that with the latest operation against Qassam cells "the
Palestinians lost their ability to aim their fire," and therefore most
Qassams have fallen in open fields. But whether Palestinian aiming
capability is good or bad, no one can guarantee the next rocket want fall in
a kindergarten.

The Red Dawn warning system gives residents 20 seconds to seek hiding when a
rocket is fired from the Gaza Strip, but for the majority of residents there
is nowhere to hide.

Kibbutz Zikkim

The Zikkim Kibbutz suffered 300 Qassam attacks. Before the disengagement
they were promised 196 sealed rooms for 350 residents. At the kibbutz'
entrance 34 sealed rooms from former settlements have been placed. All need
refurbishment. Protection work in kindergartens is way beyond the deadline
and although the IDF promised to hasten their work, they refused to commit
to a new deadline.

"Fear is part our children's daily life. They grow in anxiety," kibbutz
officials said.

Kibbutz Karmia

Kibbutz Karmia lies north of the Gaza Strip, and it too was hit by over 300
Qassams. Of 61 sealed rooms promised before the disengagement, 45 derelict
rooms have been delivered.

Residents speak of "death numbers:" he who gets a room is likely to stay

Two months ago a Qassam hit a house and injured members of the Amar family,
including a toddler.

Yad Mordechai

Kibbutz Yad Mordechai sustained 200 Qassam attacks. About 15 sealed rooms
were promised to 250 residents but not a single one has been delivered. Five
kindergartens in the kibbutz remain unprotected.

The high school has been promised 13 sealed classes but nothing has been
done. The IDF recently said it has no intention of sealing classrooms at the
primary school

"Whenever a Qassam falls and doesn't hit our schools it is by miracle,"
residents said.

Nir Am: reinforcement completed, people are leaving

Kibbutz Nir Am was hit by dozens of Qassams. Of 15 sealed rooms promised by
the military, only 11 have been delivered. Of 100 families in the community,
20 have little children.

In kindergartens and at the medical center, 5 sealed rooms have been set up.

Kibbutz residents said the measures are "a partial solution to the problem
because there isn't enough place to shelter all children at the time of an

"There isn't a sealed room for every family. They have put us in a very
unpleasant situation. We have to decide who gets a room and who doesn't.
This means who lives and who dies. Just like God," Avi Kadosh, the kibbutz'
secretary-general said.

Netiv Haasara is the only kibbutz where reinforcement work has been
completed. A sealed room has been erected near each house in the community
and kindergartens have been fitted with fortified roofs. "Reinforcement is
only a tranquilizer. The sound of explosions is impossible to eliminate.
Quiet living has long gone. At nights no one leaves home out of fear," a
resident said.

Residents said their children are leaving the community and finding new
homes in other cities.

"Many families who rented here have left. We were once considered a much
recommended community. Today I barely dare say I live in Netiv Haasara."

(04.21.06, 11:33)


Subject: MK Yuval Steinitz: We could lose the next war

We could lose the next war
By Ari Shavit Haaretz (Magazine section) 21 April 2006

Following a briefing of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the committee chairman, MK Yuval Steinitz
(Likud) said that he and the prime minister were in complete agreement on
the subject in question. Sharon did not pass up the opportunity; he turned
toward the chairman and gave him one of his scalpel looks. MK Steinitz, he
said, you have no idea how relieved I am to hear that you agree with me. All
the MKs present, without exception, burst into laughter.

Ever since he entered politics, Steinitz, who holds a doctorate in
philosophy, has encountered belittlement. Communicating with him is not
easy. He speaks at length and is full of himself and is constantly talking
about the injustice that is being done to him. His political egocentricity
is uncontrollable and his media hunger is insatiable. Many of his colleagues
perceive him as a person who was and remains a gifted child: gifted but
childish; intelligent but immature. A person who finds it difficult to
understand the space in which he lives and his place in that space.

Nevertheless, as chairman of the Knesset's most sensitive committee,
Steinitz had a field day. His philosophy of parliamentary activism made the
committee industrious and energetic. He forced the defense and security
establishments to bow, to some degree, to the superiority of the Knesset.
While the Mossad espionage agency managed to sweet-talk him, making him
privy to derring-do secrets and transforming him into an ally, the Israel
Defense Forces (IDF) and the Shin Bet security service found him to be an
unprecedentedly fierce critic. Under the leadership of a hyperactive
parliamentarian, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee ceased to be the
rubber stamp of the General Staff. For the first time in years, the
committee posited an intellectual and institutional challenge to the


Yuval Steinitz has two red rags: the Egyptian army and the Israel Air Force.
His fierce allegations about the dangers latent in the former and the
weaknesses inherent in the latter generated bitter arguments in the
national-security community. Some maintained that his views were baseless,
others said they were well-grounded. The fact that Steinitz is an
inexperienced outsider with no officer's insignia (a reservist sergeant in
the Golani infantry brigade) is viewed by some as a weakness and by others
as an advantage. Some thought that his lack of military background makes his
thesis ridiculous, but others thought that his different, civilian way of
thought breaks conventions and shatters dogmas.

In the living room of his home in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Tzion
this week, Steinitz sounded reflective and well-reasoned. With his wife,
Judge Gila Steinitz Canfi, away and his three children napping on the Pesach
school break, the security-oriented philosopher, wearing an orange jersey,
relaxes in an armchair and presents a coherent, disturbing and well-grounded
worldview. However, at the end of a very long day in the company of the
person who is concluding his tenure as chairman of the Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee, the questions remain open: Are the Steinitz scenarios
solid or imaginary? Are the Steinitz warnings hallucinatory or prophetic?
One way or the other, the parallel conceptual world of Steinitz is worth our
attention. It generates new thinking.

Yuval Steinitz, you came from the world of philosophy and from politics, and
for three years you were the civilian who monitors Israel's defense and
security systems. What did you learn?

"I learned that we have a very high quality defense establishment. It has
extraordinarily high quality and intelligent people in it. The various
systems possess dedication, professionalism and internal review. There are
frequent exceptional achievements, sometimes even achievements that leave
one dumbfounded. But at the same time, the defense establishment is arrogant
and overweening. It does not subject its conceptions and its basic
assumptions to in-depth examinations. It operates in large measure by
inertia. As a result, the defense establishment is moving in incorrect and
even dangerous directions. Just as in the period before the Yom Kippur War,
the defense establishment is liable to lead us into a situation that
endangers the existence of the state and the nation."

That is a far-reaching statement. Can you illustrate?

"I'll illustrate from the intelligence sphere. Before the Iraq War there was
much pride, bordering on boasting, in the Israeli intelligence services
concerning all sorts of achievements in connection with Saddam Hussein's
Iraq. There was great amazement at the ability to know in real time what was
happening at various points in Iraq. Details that were considered vital were
conveyed to other intelligence services. But when the war ended it turned
out that we did not have true intelligence about Iraq. All the technological
and human achievements in which the defense personnel took pride led to very
partial and very poor intelligence. We didn't know the central things. We
did not have penetration of the circle close to Saddam Hussein. We did not
know if he had ballistic missiles that could endanger Israel. We did not
know if he had operative chemical weapons. We entered the war with
assessments that proved to be utterly unfounded. So, overall, even though
there really were very fine point-specific achievements in Iraq, there was a
colossal intelligence failure.

"Even more serious was the intelligence failure in Libya. Muammar Gadhafi
was very close to a nuclear bomb and we didn't know. We knew that something
was going on there. We knew there was some sort of preliminary research. But
when the full picture was revealed by the Americans and the British, it
turned out that Israel lacked elementary information on a subject of
critical importance. The intelligence failure in Libya was almost
existential in character. It is a far graver failure than the failure of the
Yom Kippur War."

No one to shake the system

What you are saying is that we are technologically excellent but
conceptually backward?

"What I am saying is that with all the admiration for the technological
achievements of the Israel Defense Forces and Military Intelligence and Unit
8200 and the Mossad espionage agency - in the final analysis we did not have
an intelligence picture. And if you don't know, you don't know. Something is
awry here. And what is awry is that there is no civilian leadership and no
civilian supervision of the security world. There's no one to shake up the
system and ask basic questions and no one to hold up a scorecard to its
achievements. In Israel, the army leads itself. The army leads the
government, and not vice versa. The army manages the Defense Ministry and
the government and the Knesset. I consider this a dangerous state of
affairs. Regrettably, the media also cooperates, by being closely attached
and going along with those in uniform. The result is the militarization of
the discourse on questions of national security. The media cooperates with a
process that causes the defense establishment to insulate itself within its
conventions and its self-confidence and its arrogance."

What you are saying is that the IDF's political power is endangering
Israel's security.

"Yes. The IDF is a good army: trained, high quality and possessing a human
and technological advantage against any adversary. But it has two flaws. One
is that the level of the senior officer corps - from the rank of colonel and
up - is lower than it was in the '50s, '60s and '70s. The second is that the
IDF is making a gross and dramatic mistake in its conception of security and
force building. That mistake is liable to result in a surprise such as
occurred in 1973. I don't see in the IDF readiness to examine itself
historically and challenge its military doctrine. The chief of staff, Dan
Halutz, is talented, but I do not see in him readiness to ask basic
questions and examine basic assumptions.

"Take, for example, the war on terrorism as it is pursued by us and by the
Americans. At the techno-tactical level, it's hats off to the IDF and the
Shin Bet security service. They have arrived at intelligence and tactical
achievements against Hamas, which far exceed the Americans' achievements
against Al-Qaida. Our intelligence is almost total, our preventive
capability is astounding, and the environmental damage we wreak is far less
than that wrought by the Americans. But in the end, after five years,
Al-Qaida is in great retreat, whereas Hamas is on the rise. Today it is
clear: we are losing in the war against Palestinian terrorism. Today no one
will say that we are 'searing the Palestinians' consciousness.' No one will
say we have won. Despite the impressive techno-tactical achievements, we
lost the war against Hamas."

Okay, but the war against Hamas is not existential. Do you see a possibility
that the IDF will lose also in a real war, a full-scale war against Arab

"If Israel does not change its security policy from the foundations up, it
is liable to lose the next war."

What you are saying is outside any reasonable context. It contradicts the
whole discourse on army and security affairs. The accepted assumption is
that the era of conventional wars has passed and also that Israel is wildly
powerful militarily.

"I don't understand the argument that says there will be no more large-scale
conventional wars. Just three years ago we went through the Iraq war, which
in its first stage was not a war on terror and not a nuclear war but a war
of planes and helicopters and tanks and artillery and antiaircraft
batteries. I do not accept the argument that Israel is wildly strong. In my
capacity as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, I
was exposed to Israel's deepest secrets. I was exposed to information that
most cabinet ministers and IDF generals are not exposed to. I peeked into
the abysses of national security, and I can tell you that in relation to the
size of a country of seven million people our strength is indeed
astonishing. But in relation to the threats that surround us, that strength
is reasonable, and sometimes even low."

Still, the basic assumption of all of us is that an Israeli defeat is

"Israel is a very strong country. But its strength does not guarantee it
either peace or security. Its strength does not guarantee it victory in
every campaign and every battle. That is because Israel is an anomaly ...
Israel is Gulliver in a lilliputian body."

I don't follow your meaning.

"In a war that breaks out under optimal conditions, Israel is capable of
extracting from itself the offensive strength of a middle-level power. Our
air force, for example, is not only superior to all our neighbors but in
certain senses is also superior to the British or American air forces. But
Israel's strength is compressed into a very small area. Israel's dimensions
are tiny and its borders are impossible. And size does make a difference. In
questions of modern national security, size counts. In the era of precision
weapons the importance of territory does not decrease but increase. And
Israel has almost no territory. Israel has no strategic depth. That is an
Achilles heel that is liable to put its very existence at risk."

You yourself say that our air force is very potent, that our aerial and
technological superiority is overwhelming. Can't they compensate for the
territorial puniness?

"In the Second World War it was possible to operate an airfield 10
kilometers from the front. In the Yom Kippur War it was possible to operate
an airfield 30 kilometers from the front. Today you need a distance of 50
kilometers to operate an airfield. Israel does not have any airfield like
that. All our airfields and our air control units and the power stations and
the sensitive strategic sites are within a few dozen kilometers of the
border. As such, they are vulnerable to surface-to-surface missiles and to
long-range rockets, which are liable to knock them out of action and
paralyze the Israel Air Force. The concern is about a scenario that is the
opposite of the Six-Day War. There could be an attack on all our airfields
that would be similar in its effectiveness to the attack that resulted in
the destruction of the Arab air forces on June 5 and 6, 1967. The result
will be the Six-Day War in reverse. Accordingly, I see danger of a
conventional victory against Israel. If we do not change our security
concept and our force-building principles, we are liable to lose in a war."

Is your prophecy of wrath shared by others in the defense establishment?

"What I am saying is the development of a warning sounded by Major General
Israel Tal in 1996. Talik wrote at the time that the strategic pillar of
Israel's security is the Air Force and that in the wake of the deployment of
hundreds and perhaps thousands of surface-to-surface missiles around Israel,
that pillar was liable to be broken within five to ten years. That was ten
years ago. In my view, it has been proved beyond any doubt that Talik was
right. The strategic pillar of Israel's security has been broken."

Are there solutions? Alternative pillars?

"It is important for me to emphasize that I am not a doomsayer. I see a
gloomy picture, but I believe in Israel's ability to overcome and find
solutions. But for that to happen, it is essential to look at reality
soberly. The arrogance and overweening of some of the members of the IDF
officer corps prevents this. Therefore, that arrogance and overweening is
dangerous. It forestalls critical discussion and leads to strategic neglect
and basic mistakes in force-building, which undermine the foundations of
Israel's national security. The IDF is conceptually fixated. There is some
sort of romantic conception that the war has to be won by a heroic pilot in
a plane. That romanticism sometimes recalls the romanticism of the Poles,
who thought that it was impossible to win a war without a heroic cavalryman
on a horse. That is why they prepared brigades of cavalry ahead of the
Second World War, not realizing that the world had changed. The world has
changed around us, too. What worked in the past in Israel's favor is now
liable to work to its detriment. It is therefore imperative to adjust the
force structure immediately to the new conditions and to the new strategic
environment. We must not dismiss the enemy's surface-to-surface missiles and
antiaircraft missiles as we did the Sagger missiles and the SAM 2 and SAM 3
[surface-to-air] missiles before the Yom Kippur War.

"I have two main proposals: to accord Israel maritime strategic depth by its
transformation into a sea power and to accord Israel firepower that is not
dependent on airfields and planes but is based on tactical missiles that are
cheap and precise.

"If we do this, if we turn the whole eastern basin of the Mediterranean into
an area under Israeli military control, and if we maintain in it vessels
that will become Israel's maritime fire bases, we will thus replace the old
and fragile pillar of the Air Force with a new and alternative and strong
pillar that is capable of creating firepower of thousands of missiles that
are fired from the sea and are not dependent on vulnerable, exposed

Egypt: Not what it seems

Do you really think that we have to invest billions in rebuilding the IDF on
completely new foundations when in practice we are not facing any
significant conventional threat?

"I see an existential conventional threat based on the formation of two
military alliances directed against us: an Egyptian-Saudi alliance in the
south and a Syrian-Iranian alliance in the north. I am especially concerned
about Egypt. I think that there is a concrete danger that Israel fell asleep
and that when it wakes up it will find itself facing a very tough Egyptian
military challenge."

We have peace with Egypt, a peace that has withstood a series of tests and
has given us 30 years of quiet and prosperity.

"I suggest that we not take at face value the Egyptian declarations of peace
but that we look at the facts. The facts show that a vast army is being
built in Egypt. Egypt faces no threats and has no active border disputes and
no resources but is investing billions in creating an army that has absolute
dominance in the Arab world and in Africa. Why is Egypt doing this? The
numbers are simply astounding. The size of the Egyptian Air Force is about
the same as that of the Israel Air Force, but the number of tanks, artillery
pieces, boats and missile batteries is exponentially greater than ours. The
Egyptian army is far larger than the IDF. But beyond the fact that during 25
years Egypt forged a tremendous force, an additional process has developed
in the past 10 years.

"Since the mid-1990s, Egyptian doctrine, Egyptian indoctrination and
Egyptian training exercises have been directed against Israel. Since the
start of this century Egypt has also invested billions in relocating its
military infrastructures so they are opposite Israel. Initially its
surface-to-surface missiles were scattered across Egypt, whereas now they
are massed against us in the Suez Canal region. The same holds for the
logistics facilities and ammunition dumps. Everything is concentrated on the
two sides of the Suez Canal. There are also worrisome signs in the Sinai
desert itself - perhaps very worrisome, but I cannot elaborate on them. The
lenient interpretation says that this gigantic enterprise is being created
because the Egyptians are afraid of us. But there is also an alternative
interpretation: Egypt is preparing for war. If it walks like a duck and
quacks like a duck, then maybe it really is a duck. If it looks like
preparations for a military confrontation and sounds like preparations for a
military confrontation, then maybe it really is preparations for a military
confrontation against Israel."

Do you believe that Egypt really wants to dwarf Israel and restore it to its
natural dimensions?

"I have no doubt that if Egypt could make Israel disappear from the map, it
would not object to that. A future military confrontation with Israel exists
in the Egyptian national consciousness and in the consciousness of the
Egyptian security forces, and that is what Egyptian strategic planning is
leading toward. I am in favor of peace with Egypt. I welcome the partial
improvement that has occurred in relations in the past year. But I think
that we must not delude ourselves. A definite possibility exists that a
military confrontation between us and Egypt will take place in the future.
We have to deploy for that."

Iran is not North Korea

We haven't yet talked about Iran, which is the true existential threat to

"Israel faces two existential threats. The Iranian existential threat is the
only we are permitted to talk about and even like talking about. The
Egyptian existential threat is the one we are prohibited from talking about.
Quite a few people are aware of it, but only a few dare to utter its name
explicitly and refer to its scale. For the same reason we ignore the fact it
was Egypt that caused the Camp David conference to fail. Ignore the fact
that it is Egypt that built up Hamas and is continuing to do so. Ignore the
fact that Egypt allows smuggling into the Gaza Strip and is effectively
arming the Palestinian people against Israel. Egypt is interested in seeing
Israel and the Palestinians bleed. Contrary to its rhetoric, it had no
interest in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - on the contrary."

Iran, Mr. Steinitz. Can Israel accept a nuclear Iran?

"No. You have to understand that Iran is not North Korea. It does not intend
to maintain three or four bombs in the basement. Iran intends to manufacture
54,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium and place them in a vast facility at
Kashan. Those 54,000 centrifuges can produce 20 to 25 nuclear bombs a year.
The Iranians do not aspire to be a regional power. They aspire to be a world
power. If Iran crosses the threshold, it will become a power on the scale of
China or of Britain and France."

China and Britain and France are rational nuclear actors. Why should Iran
also not be rational actor?

"Ahmadinejad's Iran is not behaving rationally. This is a regime that says
that a few million Iranians can be sacrificed for the sake of a worthy
Islamic goal. This is a regime whose missiles say Israel's destruction and
whose open declarations by its leaders talk about Israel's destruction.
There is a clear analogy here to Hitler's Germany. Therefore I think that
there is a danger of an Iranian bomb falling on Tel Aviv or Haifa. But even
if that act is not carried out, for fear of a fierce retaliation, a nuclear
Iran will achieve hegemony in the gulf, in the Arab world and in the Muslim
world. A nuclear Iran will bring about sweeping nuclearization in the entire
region. A nuclear Iran means a different strategic environment and a
different world.

"Already today Iran has Shihab-4 missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers,
which encompasses the Balkans, Greece, Romania and the outskirts of Moscow.
They are working on Shihab-5, which will have a range of 4,000 to 6,000
kilometers. That will take in Berlin, Paris and London. They could reach the
eastern shores of the United States. And I'm not talking about Saddam
Hussein's Iraq here. I'm talking about a serious power that is doing serious
work. When I read the reports about the developments in Iran, I see a world
power in its infancy. I see a monster under construction. If Iran is not
curbed, it will have dozens of nuclear warheads within a decade. Maybe even
a hundred. It will have the ability to launch them at every relevant point
in the world."

Can that giant still be stopped? Isn't it too late?

"It's still possible to prevent Iran from going nuclear. There are two ways
to do this: either the Iranians disarm or the Iranians are disarmed by
force. The Americans are still capable of using air power to strike at
Iran's nuclear network in a way that will set it back by at least 10 years."

But it is all scattered, all buried in the ground: the lessons of Iraq were

"Nuclear industry is not high-tech industry. It is heavy industry. There is
no heavy industry on the face of the earth that is immune to air attack. A
massive and precise air attack can destroy any nuclear industry, including

So the United States has a military option against Iran's nuclear

"Without any doubt."

And Israel?

"We must not send the message to the world that Israel can be relied on to
solve the problem. This is a terrible threat, not only to Israel but to the
countries of Europe and to the United States. I don't want anyone in those
countries to delude himself into thinking that he is exempt because Israel
will repeat what it did in Iraq."

How much time is there?


But for the past 10 years we have been told that we have another five years.

"In my assessment, the Iranians are two years away from a nuclear weapon. It
could be a bit more and it could be a bit less. After the success in
enriching uranium at an initial 164-centrifuge cascade, the technology is
largely in their hands. To create a first bomb they have to reach 10
cascades on 1,600 centrifuges. Now that they have the technology, the
question is one of investment. If no one interferes with them and if they
scoff at the world and invest resources and run ahead fast to accelerate the
process, we're talking about two years, maybe a year and a half. Maybe even
a year."

If so, this is a dramatic window of time. The military operation against
Iran has to take place within the coming year and maybe even in the coming

"We're in the home stretch. If a massive military operation against Iran is
mounted, it will be between this point of time, of April 2006, and the end
of 2007."

You are not even talking about political options and sanctions.

"Only one thing will prevent an American military operation in Iran. Only if
the United States shows the Iranians a very big stick and waves it wildly in
front of them will it perhaps be able to prevent the use of that stick."

And the waving of the stick has to start soon?

"It should have started already."

Do you think that the United States has really reached a point where it is
ready to operate militarily in Iran?

"Public opinion is ready and Congress supports it. I assume that the
administration does, too."

And what will the implications be for Israel?

"There will be implications. If its nuclear facilities are attacked, Iran
will try to strike not only at the American forces in Iraq, Kuwait and
Qatar, but at Israel as well. The Iranian attempt to attack Israel will be
carried out by planes or by missiles or by terror."

And don't you think the public should be warned already now? Don't you think
the citizens of Israel should be told that we are flying into turbulence and
that they should fasten their seatbelts?

"In the Middle East we're always flying into turbulence. We're sailing on
stormy seas. Every Jew and Israeli should know that we are living in a
dinghy and that 'all around rages the storm.' But I hope an American attack
on Iran will succeed also in eliminating the Iranian capability to retaliate
and strike at both the United States and Israel."

So one way or the other, we're on the brink of a regional earthquake?

"An earthquake is not good and not easy. But there is only one option that
is worse than the option of a military operation against Iran, and that is
the option of doing nothing and allowing Iran to become a nuclear power."

Isn't it possible that behind the arrogant declarations of Ahmadinejad there
are mass-destruction capabilities that we're not aware of?

"It's possible. Therefore I prefer, for the good of all concerned, that the
waving of the American stick at the Iranians will be enough. But in general
our intelligence on Iran is good. In the wake of the failures in Iraq and
Libya, a new intelligence doctrine was formulated and new resources
allocated. It was decided that intelligence on the nuclear issue is Israel's
top priority. We know a great deal about Iran. Iran is a case of an
intelligence success."

But some claim that the Mossad, which is responsible for nuclear
intelligence, has become a mediocre, unimaginative body.

"In the years before the tenure of Meir Dagan [the current Mossad chief],
the Mossad became less operative and more academic. But Meir Dagan is a good
Mossad chief. He shook things up. The Mossad under him progressed
dramatically and made a very significant leap forward. The abilities the
Mossad has developed in the past few years sometimes leave one

From the Israeli point of view, is it the Mossad that is in charge of
thwarting the Iranian nuclear project?

"The Mossad is Israel's strategic long arm. Not the IDF, not the IAF - the
Mossad. And it is more and more functioning as such. More and more. Its main
task is to give Israel a warning about the development of means of mass
destruction that are liable to cause the country's destruction. That is true
with regard to Iran and it is true with regard to the entire Middle East.
Prime Minister Sharon made the Mossad responsible for prevention with regard
to Iran's nuclear project. That is its mission and that is the No. 1
national mission."

What you are actually saying is that the Mossad not only supplies
intelligence about the Iranian nuclear project but is also capable of
thwarting it if the Americans should fail or refrain from doing the
necessary work.

"Ariel Sharon defined the Mossad as a central preventive arm of the state.
That definition smacks of the truth."

You saw Sharon make those abyss-decisions that you talked about at the
start. Did he function well?

"In the Sharon period the abyss-decisions in Israel were made seriously and
judiciously. When I followed his activity in the most sensitive spheres, I
saw attentiveness, thought, sangfroid and maturity. The feeling was that the
wheel was in trustworthy and stable hands. His appearances in the Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee were also of a virtuoso character. But in the
last nine months of his tenure there was a clear change. It did not reach a
stage of unfitness, but Sharon needed his aides and needed notes and texts
that were prepared for him in advance. Previously, it was not like that.
Sharon's performance declined visibly."

You are very close to Benjamin Netanyahu. What did Sharon have that Bibi
doesn't have?

"It has been said of Bibi that he's a great statesman and a minor
politician. That is true. He was a good prime minister. He was an excellent
finance minister. But he is off-target when it comes to the human aspect of
politics. There is no friendship within him and he has no friendship. He
does not know how to build a force with a human face. His approach is
rational, technocratic and achievement-oriented. That is why he riles those
who are close to him. He doesn't understand what Sharon understood: that
politics is not only a struggle between ideas. Life has an emotional

Did Bibi's failure in the elections last month stem from some sort of
emotional handicap?

"Possibly. But it takes one to know one: my tendency is also very
intellectual. And people expect a politician to give hope. Give a fraternal
caress. People want politicians to console them and lie to them and describe
the situation in a rosy light. Bibi and I don't always know how to do that."


Subject: Yoel Marcus reviews reality
- then renews retreat call despite it

[IMRA: It might be said that the title of the column aptly describes the
quality of Mr. Marcus' policy recommendations]

Until they get some brains
By Yoel Marcus Haaretz 21 April 2006

If Haaretz weren't such a respectable paper and so pedantic about its choice
of language, I would begin like this: "Idiots you were and idiots you'll
always be." These words do not apply to the Palestinians, but to their
leaders. Every time they get close to achieving something, they shoot
themselves in the foot - or the feet of their people, to be more exact.

They should have been dancing on the rooftops. Finally, an Israeli leader
had the guts to say outright that we cannot lord over another people, that
the time has come to relinquish the dream of a Greater Israel. Finally, a
leader emerged who translated talk into action, evacuating Gush Katif and
pulling the army out of Gaza. And what do they do? They provoke us, firing
Qassam rockets at us, day in and day out.

There are over a billion Muslims in the world today, some of them drowning
in money. If the Palestinian leaders did less war-whooping, they could get
their rich brothers to pitch in and build high-rises on the land evacuated
by Israel, solving the housing problems of the refugees. They could build
tourist hotels that would take advantage of the lovely landscape. They could
show the world that they are worthy of a state like all other states, and
give Israel the incentive to move ahead with stages two and three of the
withdrawal plan.

Isn't that what they dreamed of and fought for?

Leaders like Ariel Sharon, who have the courage to stand up to Israel's
fanatics, are not born every day. Instead of appreciating what Sharon did
and encouraging his successors to continue in his path, the Palestinians
spend their days bombarding Israel with rockets. They voted Hamas into
power - an organization whose hands are dripping with Jewish blood, fueled
and cheered on by Iran and Hezbollah, denounced by most of the world as a
terrorist organization. Now, Islamic Jihad has jumped on the bandwagon,
renewing its suicide bombings in civilian population centers, as its leaders
kindly promise 70 more.

And the Qassams keep falling. They haven't caused any catastrophic damage
yet, but that doesn't mean they won't. Where is the common sense of the
Palestinian leadership? Where are their brains? Is this any way to welcome
Ehud Olmert, who has pledged to continue in Sharon's footsteps and has
promised that within four years, Israel will be a fun place to live? The
Palestinian leaders, warring between themselves, have disappointed their
people, who hoped their lives would improve after the disengagement. And
Israelis, looking forward to the fruits of the political turnabout, which
they thought would bring calm, have begun to despair.

Iran's threats to annihilate Israel and the attack on our sense of personal
safety brought on by the new round of terror have jumbled the deck for the
Olmert administration. Fundamentalist Islam has blown wind into the sails of
the settlers who oppose Olmert's plans for further territorial withdrawal.
The extremists in our midst are preparing to forcibly resist. "This time it
will end in blood, not tears," one of the hilltop hooligans said recently.

Military sources say that Israel is in for a long, hard fight, requiring
patience and nerves of steel. The army learned long ago that there is no
abracadabra in matters like these. Nevertheless, the top brass insists that
sooner or later the Qassams are going to stop. To rein in terror, many
targeted operations will be needed, but not the bombastic kind or the kind
that harms civilian populations. In the end, we'll get a handle on it, a
military source said.

Olmert must not be swayed by the whims of the two resistance fronts -
internal or external. Continuing the disengagement in coordination with the
Palestinian leadership is best. But if there is no partner for dialogue,
unilateral withdrawal must go on, if only for the sake of our own interests.
The goal is to minimize points of friction and shorten the lines, as in war.

Aim for an agreement, but if it doesn't work, go for second best. We didn't
leave Gaza to reward the Palestinians but to make things easier for
ourselves. Their objections don't have to rub off on us. We need to separate
ourselves from them. We need shortened lines for our own good, even if the
Palestinians perceive it as a victory.

Continuing the disengagement is a Zionist, military and political
imperative. Like the war on road accidents, we may have to wait many more
years until the problem is fully resolved, or until the Palestinians get
some brains and understand what Sharon's Israel now understands - that there
is no peace without concessions, and no independent state with permanent
borders without negotiation and compromise.


Subject: New Hamas security chief vows to fight Israel

New Hamas security chief vows to fight Israel
Fri Apr 21, 2006 06:20 AM ET
By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - A militant leader appointed to a senior security position
in the Hamas-led Palestinian government said on Friday he would not abandon
the fight against Israel which has long sought to kill him.

Jamal Abu Samhadana, high on Israel's most wanted list as leader of the
Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), was
appointed on Thursday to supervise the Interior Ministry and set up a new
police force from militants to crack down on anarchy and chaos.

"Factions and security services should unite in one trench against the daily
Israeli aggression against our people," Abu Samhadana told Reuters in an

Israeli officials said Abu Samhadana was still in the army's sights despite
his senior appointment in the government led by the Islamist Hamas movement.

The militant group, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, took office last
month after winning a Palestinian parliamentary election in January which
gave it control of the government.

Israel, which has killed dozens of militants in air strikes, has tried
unsuccessfully to kill Abu Samhadana several times.
"We will continue to pursue him. He is a terrorist and the fact that he has
received a senior role in the Palestinian Authority does not make him
immune," said a senior Israeli official who declined to be identified.

The 43-year-old leader of a faction that has carried out bomb and rocket
attacks against Israel since a Palestinian uprising began in 2000 said his
first order of business would be amalgamating militants in the security

His appointment was widely seen as an attempt by Hamas to strengthen its
grip on the ministry which controls several security agencies, especially
after Abbas recently appointed one of his loyalists, Rashid Abu Shbak, as
its director-general.

The move could widen Abbas's rift with Hamas, which has rejected his calls
to pursue peace with Israel. Abbas's office has criticized Abu Samhadana's


Abu Samhadana said his new appointment in the Interior Ministry, originally
set up to reign in militant factions in accord with international demands,
did not mean he was giving up his leadership of the PRC.

"I will continue to hold the rifle and will pull the trigger whenever
required to defend my people," he said.

The PRC carried out major bomb attacks against Israeli occupation forces in
Gaza before Israel withdrew in September.

They were also suspected of being behind the bombing of a U.S. diplomatic
convoy in Gaza in 2003 in which three Americans were killed. The PRC had
denied involvement.

While Abu Samhadana is originally from Fatah, he is Hamas's choice and has
close ties to the movement.

"He was on Israel's most wanted list before and there hasn't been any change
in what he's doing," another Israeli official said, speaking on condition of
anonymity. "Those who are involved in terrorist activity will not be

Unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has spiraled since Hamas won the
election, partly due to anger by Fatah members who fear that Hamas will try
to sideline them with its own people.

(Additional reporting by Megan Goldin in Jerusalem)


Subject: Interim PM Olmert Holds Ministeria
Discussion on Falashmura Immigration to Israel

Interim PM Olmert Holds Ministerial Discussion on Falashmura Immigration to
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday (Thursday), 20.4.06, convened a
ministerial discussion on the immigration to Israel of the Falashmura, ahead
of the 26.4.06 High Court of Justice hearing. Senior Government, Jewish
Agency and American Joint Distribution Committee officials briefed ministers
on the current situation. Interim Prime Minister Olmert announced that he
intends to hold a comprehensive discussion on the issue as soon as the new
government is formed.

It will be recalled that since 2004, 8,383 members of the Falashmura
community have arrived in Israel. The list of potential immigrants
currently stands at 11,275; it is estimated that approximately 10% are
ineligible to immigrate.


Subject: Excerpts: Syria source of arms for Hamas.
Press freedom in the Arab world.21 April 2006

Excerpts: Syria source of arms for Hamas.Press freedom in the Arab world.21
April 2006

+++THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon) 21 April '06:"Jordan raises stakes in tiff with
Hamas, says smuggled arms came from Syria" Compiled by Staff, Agencies.
"arms seized from a secret Hamas arms cache in Jordan had been smuggled
from Syria"

"reached Jordan from Syria where Hamas' exiled leadership is based"

Jordanian Prime Minister Maarouf al-Bakhit has told a meeting of MPs that
weapons seized from a secret Hamas arms cache in Jordan had been smuggled
from Syria, legislators said Thursday.
Hamas also faces problems at home, where its latest move threatened to widen
the party's rift with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
With the Palestinian Authority already under international pressure ...
Interior Minister Said Siam announced the creation of a special new force
drawn on the armed wings of all factions. He also nominated a top militant
to oversee security.
... no details on how the weapons ... had reached Jordan from Syria, where
Hamas' exiled leadership is based.
. . .Palestinian Foreign Minister and senior Hamas leader ... told
reporters: "This accusation is unacceptable. We don't play with the security
of anyone."
... Bakhit also told MPs that the smuggling and storing of arms was just one
of several attempts by Hamas to bring weapons into the kingdom that had been
foiled by Jordanian intelligence.
. . ..
A struggle between Abbas and the governing Hamas group for control of
Palestinian security forces intensified when Seyam named Jamal Abu
Samhadana, commander of the Popular Resistance Committees and a senior Fatah
leader, to be supervisor of the Interior Ministry.
Seyam also said his ministry would soon begin to recruit fighters from all
Palestinian movements for a "special executive" force to deal with ordinary
crime and clan rivalries in Gaza and support the work of police and security
"We want to end the security chaos and illegal activity in the Palestinian
territories at all costs," Siam told supporters in Gaza City. "We need all
people to support us in this mission," he said, adding that members of the
new force would not be paid salaries by the Palestinian Authority. [IMRA:
Paid by whom?]

+++ARAB NEWS (Saudi) "Freedom of the Press"Mohammed Dyab . Asharq Al-Awsat -
"the countries in our Arab world ... are on the dark side"
"Kuwait has the greatest journalistic freedom .... 85th on a list of
167" ... [in] only ..Arab countries --- Lebanon fifth ... Egypt twelfth"
"Journalism in the Arab world really needs more doses of responsible
. . .Every time I think of the shocking annual World Press Freedom Index
by the French organization, Reporters Without Borders, which ranks
journalistic freedom in different countries ... the countries in our Arab
world, from the Gulf to the Atlantic, are on the dark side of the moon, or
at least of our planet.
Among Arab countries, Kuwait apparently has the greatest journalistic
freedom, ranking 85 on a list of 167 countries. Which means that all other
Arab countries are on the dark side of the World Press Freedom Index and, if
we look only at the Arab countries, there are substantial differences
between the first and last. Once the freest of Arab countries, Lebanon now
ranks fifth among them. Egypt, long known for the influence of its media,
ranks twelfth on the Arab list according to the World Press Freedom Index
for Arab countries.
If the world views freedom of the press as one of the indicators of public
liberties, then reports such as these ought to set all the alarm bells
ringing. The governments of Arab states ought to review their own internal
affairs related to their citizens' freedom of speech. It is well known that
writers and thinkers who can openly and freely express their opinions don't
use false names on Internet blogs and forums. Writers with sealed mouths and
chained pens, on the other hand, don't threaten governments. The freedom of
journalism is ultimately the freedom of mankind.
.... journalism in the Arab world really needs more doses of responsible
freedom. It must move away from the traditional inherited supervisory
methods that are hopelessly outdated and totally out of touch with the
modern world. When, I ask you all, is any of this going to happen?

Sue Lerner - Associate IMRA


Subject: PA official praises Samhadana

PA official praises Samhadana

PA interior ministry: Samhadana, no. 2 on Israel's most wanted list, will
bring law and order
Ali Waked YNET 21 April 2006,7340,L-3242069,00.html

The spokesman of the Palestinian Interior Ministry, which controls the PA
security forces, told Ynet Friday that the newly appointed director-general
of the ministry and head of the Popular Resistance Committees is not a
terrorist, but a fighter capable of implementing law and order.

"Jamal Abu Samhadana and his mates are not terrorists, but fighters and they
can choose the best steps and bring order, security and an end to anarchy,"
ministry spokesperson Khaled Abu Halal said.

On Thursday, the Hamas-led government announced that Samhadana has been
appointed as the ministry's director-general. Samhadana is no. 2 on Israel's
most wanted list.

Abu Halal said the Palestinian government will take no steps to stop the
firing of Qassam rockets into Israel, before Israel stops its attacks.

He declared a Palestinian disengagement plan: "No one is now speaking of
accords and peace. We want to deal with internal issues, with building
national institutions and returning security and order to Palestinian
citizens, stopping anarchy and giving our people suitable services and
guarding their lives a property."

Abu Halal, you are wanted by Israel and occupy a senior post at the Interior
Ministry. Now another wanted suspect by Israel has been appointed to a
senior post, for Israelis this looks more like a ministry of terrorists than
a governmental ministry.

These appointments, like that of Abu Samhadana, are not a message to Israel
or anyone else in the world. It is a message to the Palestinian people, and
specifically a message to the security forces, some of which are breeching
the law, acting like gangsters and attacking public institutions, foreign
nationals and by doing so they are damaging the Palestinians' reputation.

The security forces need strong internal organization, and Abu Samhadana is
the best choice. He enjoys capabilities and support from the public and is
capable to impose order on security personnel who are abusing their
positions through their weapons. The appointment is part of efforts to bring
calm, security, and end anarchy in our society.

But still, he is a senior wanted suspect responsible for attacks, and the
appointment has prompted negative reactions not only in Israel.

Still the storm and the reactions are party of Israel's incitement plans
against us and the starvation, murder and destruction campaign that Israel
continues to implement against the Palestinian people. The Palestinian
people overwhelmingly voted for this government. They had a message to pass
on which is that despite the oppression and killing we will not be
subjugated and won't give up our rights. As the Hebrew saying goes, 'Nothing
stands against strong will,' and nothing will stand in the way of the
Palestinian's will, which solely wants and strives to live in peace and let
Israel respect international decisions.

We understand this won't happen, there is no Israeli intension to go in this
direction and therefore our entire plan is focused on internal affairs
political and peace issues are less of a concern to us. Therefore we are
looking for and appointing people most appropriate for this task.

We have no interest to fight a country with the largest military arsenal of
the whole region. We want to invest in Palestinian society and I am not
saying this out of weakness and subjugation. Stop the ineffective incitement
and don't push our people to the corner, which will lead to an explosion,
because in Israel they know the results are contradictory.

This week we saw what happened in Tel Aviv, and when a Palestinian explodes
it is only because of Israel's policies. We have no interest in this,
therefore Israel has to stop its attacks.

Will you continue with radical appointments and slogans?

Is everything I say radical? I'm talking about the need to live in peace and
quiet, about ending the violence and the killing. There are Palestinians
whom you liked to hear, but what achievements have they led? What did Israel
give them? They achieved nothing. We are the ones who fought, we're the ones
who can work toward calm and stability, just like in Israel, where only
people like Rabin could move things and not those clowns who talk a lot, but
they have no foundation and ability to do anything. Our hand is extended for
peace, but fair and true peace which will bring calm and security.

You're asking for calm and security and mention a hand extended for peace,
but just recently Jordan captured a ship with weapons meant for Hamas

We're not asking for calm, the occupation forces need to ask for calm. I
talked about the means to achieve this calm. As far as the arms ship, it is
another pitiful show that reeks of political stench. Hamas' historic policy
is that the movement never had any organizational or military activity on
any land belonging to an Arab state, and this policy hasn't changed.

Do I understand that you don't really mean to arrest terror suspects, as you
said before, and will not cease the Qassam firing?

The government and the Ministry of Internal and National Security will not
deal with this issue as long as the Israeli escalation continues and every
day Palestinian civilians get killed. How come that while the bombardments
and shelling from the sea and air and from artillery fire continue and women
and children get killed, we are asked to be part of an attack on our people
and its fighters? Let the Israelis stop the violence and unilaterally accept
the hudna that was declared by Palestinian factions. But the Israelis not
only have no interest in that, they're interested in bringing the
Palestinian organizations still committed to calm to renege.

Maybe the gate that leads to the end of violence starts with your
recognition of Israel?

Maybe we would also demand from the National Religious Party and the extreme
right wing and the Likud to recognize our rights and the Palestinian state.
Does it make sense to demand of us to recognize Israel that occupies our
land? Is it not, in fact, a request for us tolegitimize the occupation?
Besides, by what borders should we recognize Israel? How come they ask the
Hamas movement to recognize Israel, but no one bothers to ask Israeli
organizations like the National Religious Party, the Likud and others to
recognize us, our rights, and a Palestinian state?

But today Hamas is not only a movement, but a ruling party

Yes, and according to the Palestinian law, the government's role is to
handle internal matters and the political issue is under the responsibly of
the PLO, which already recognized Israel and signed agreements with it.

Yesterday you announced the formation of a new organization where some of
its members are wanted by Israel. How will they maintain security? And how
will you prevent a clash with Abbas when only he decides by presidential
order to establish organizations?

Israel and the Palestinians can be calm, there isn't going to be any clash
between the Palestinian people. It's not a new organization that requires an
order. It's an internal organization inside the police meant for special
missions and its members are supposed to, mainly, secure the police and
their offices when they are attacked and when foreign citizens are attacked.
It's internal police reinforcement.

(04.21.06, 15:36)


Subject: Official: No letter received from Abbas annulling security

Official: No letter received from Abbas annulling security appointment
(AP) YNET 04/21/2006 18:05,2297,L-3242095_3089,00.html

A spokesman for Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam says no letter has
been received from PA leader Mahmoud Abbas annulling Jamal Abu Samhadana's
appointment as the ministry's director-general.

"We have not received any letter of any decree from President Abbas," Said
Khaled Abu Hilal. "The minister did not overstep his authority or commit any
violation with his decision."


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End of [imra] Daily digest - Volume: 2 Issue: 1376 (11 messages)

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