Sharon prepares to withdraw from “virtually all” the West Bank by 2008

December 02, 2005

* Israel will retain the Golan Heights for the time being

 

CONTENTS

1. Sharon prepares major withdrawal from the West Bank
2. Sharon says Israel will retain Golan
3. Moving forward
4. Sharon now holds eight ministerial portfolios
5. Peres leaves Labor after 61 years; backs Sharon
6. Gigi Peres compares Peretz to Franco
7. Peretz learns a new language – and it’s not English
8. Man bites dog; U.N. condemns Hizbullah…
9. … But Lebanese PM blames Israel for clashes
10. Europe’s first woman suicide bomber

11. Look who’s espousing democracy now
12. Fatah polls suspended due to fraud
13. Palestinian finance minister resigns
14. The Pope hosts Abbas this weekend
15. Hamas leader says he won’t renew truce
16. Israeli defense minister threatens to close Israel-Gaza crossings
17. Angela Merkel to visit Israel
18. Next year in Jerusalem: Depeche Mode, Eminem, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones
19. Ahmadinejad threatens “supporters of the Zionist entity”
20. Israel military Intel chief: Israel must act against Iran by April

21. “PM plans to draw ‘the final shape of Israel’” (Sunday Telegraph, Nov. 27, 2005)
22. “Israel: Time for changes on Lebanese front” (UPI, Nov. 25, 2005)
23. “Iran president warns ‘Zionist supporters’” (UPI, Nov. 26, 2005)



[Note by Tom Gross]

SHARON PREPARES MAJOR WITHDRAWAL FROM THE WEST BANK

According to Middle East Newsline, a relatively reliable source with good connections, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon is planning to withdraw from “virtually all” the West Bank by 2008. The report suggests that the politician known as the “bulldozer” has already begun briefing senior U.S. officials of his intentions.

The withdrawal will comprise more than 95 percent of West Bank territory. Sharon, who quit the ruling Likud Party on November 21, will seek a U.S. and international security presence in the area, according to reports. Israel will retain control over air space.

TG adds: Sharon’s decision to leave the Likud stems from his desire to bring the state of Israel to permanent borders before the end of his political career. Sharon is 77. The (London) Sunday Telegraph also contained a report (attached below) suggesting Sharon is “determined to set the country’s hitherto elastic frontiers in stone.”

SHARON SAYS ISRAEL WILL RETAIN GOLAN

Israel will not cede the Golan Heights to Syria, Ariel Sharon told reporters during a meeting in Tel Aviv yesterday. Sharon added that there are currently no negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus. Israel will make further territorial concessions to the Palestinians, but none that threaten Israeli security, he said.

MOVING FORWARD

The extent to which Sharon will be able to carry out his plans, will depend largely on the success of Sharon’s new centrist party, Kadima (meaning “forward” in Hebrew), in the Israeli elections to be held on March 28, 2006.

Sharon has hinted that, unlike the Gaza disengagement, any withdrawal from the West Bank may not be made unilaterally. In yesterday’s meeting with journalists Sharon said “we do not consider another move in the vein of what we recently performed in the disengagement. The disengagement was meant to pave the way for a diplomatic solution in accordance with the roadmap.”

TG adds: Whatever Sharon says to placate the media now, the withdrawal is likely to be made unilaterally, albeit with security and logistical cooperation with leading elements in the Palestinian Authority.

SHARON NOW HOLDS EIGHT MINISTERIAL PORTFOLIOS

Since Sunday, following the departure of the Labor Party from his government, Ariel Sharon has been holding eight ministerial portfolios. The Labor Party took a sharp term leftwards with the election of militant trade union boss Amir Peretz as its new leader.

Sharon has taken over the following ministries from departed Labor colleagues: national infrastructure, communications, interior, housing and construction, environment, science and technology, and social welfare.

This strange situation will last until December 8 when the current government will become transitional and Sharon will be able to appoint ministers without Knesset approval.

At present, the Israeli government is now comprised of 12 ministers; six are considered to be Sharon’s supporters, and six have remained in the Likud.

PERES LEAVES LABOR AFTER 61 YEARS; BACKS SHARON

On Wednesday night, in what is being viewed as an historic realignment in Israeli politics, Shimon Peres announced that he was leaving the Labor Party and would back Ariel Sharon in the upcoming Israeli elections.

Peres, 82, had been a Labor Party member for 61 years. He has been in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) for a record 46 years – the longest for any democratically-elected politician in the world.

Peres, a former prime minister and Nobel peace prize winner who has held every major cabinet post, said “I held talks with him [Sharon] and I am convinced that he is determined to continue the peace process. I was informed that he is open to creative ideas to attain peace and security. I have decided to support him in the elections and to cooperate with him in attaining these goals.”

Although an odd political couple, Peres and Sharon have been good friends for many years. They maintained close contact, for example dining together during the 1980s and 1990s, when they were politically very far apart. (At the same time, Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, and Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu, were barely speaking to one another, despite being closer together politically.)

The Israeli papers have been unkind to Peres in recent days. Yediot Ahronoth called him “smug”, “tired” and a “dying power”. Peres maintains greater respect in Europe and the U.S. than he does in Israel.

A Ha’aretz poll published yesterday gave Sharon’s Kadima Party 47 per cent of the vote followed by Peretz’s Labor Party with 18.5 per cent.

Sharon has been picking up backing from other quarters over recent days – more than 70 mayors from both Labor and Likud have thrown their support behind him.

GIGI PERES COMPARES PERETZ TO FRANCO

Shimon Peres’s brother, Gigi Peres, said this week that Moroccan-born Labor leader Amir Peretz was a “foreign body” in Labor, along with his people “from North Africa”.

Gigi Peres added that Peretz took over the Labor Party the way dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco had taken over Spain in the 1930s.

He told Israeli Army Radio “Peretz and his people are a foreign body in the Labor Party, like General Franco in Spain… They were the Falangists who came from southern Spain who came to infiltrate as a fifth column into Madrid, and destroyed the magnificent republic.”

He continued his racist remarks: “This game is entirely clear – the One Nation people [the name of Peretz’s former party] came from North Africa, took over, and shot them in the back.”

Israel’s Labor Party is traditionally dominated by Israelis of Ashkenazi (European) origin. For decades, Labor has suffered from an image of an Ashkenazi-dominated party which treats Sephardi Jews with condescension and contempt.

Shimon Peres suffered a surprise defeat to Amir Peretz in the November 9 Labor leadership poll prompting Labor to pull out of the governing coalition.

PERETZ LEARNS A NEW LANGAUGE – AND IT’S NOT ENGLISH

Since Peretz became head of the Labor Party and aspired to become prime minister he has been criticized for his inability to speak English. Political satire shows on Israeli TV have mimicked his recent stuttering performances when trying to speak the language of Israel’s closest ally.

Yet in recent days Peretz has started to learn not English, but Russian. The new Labor leader seems to think that his lack of English does not matter unless he is elected and Israel’s large Russian sector is now an important factor in gaining election.

At present 94 percent of the Israeli-Russian electorate, highly suspicious of Peretz’s old-style socialism, say they will vote to keep him out of office.

Peretz has tried to rid himself of his hard-line image over the last two weeks, working to rejuvenate the floundering Labor Party, recruiting academics, a prominent journalist and a reclusive millionaire to join its parliamentary slate.

For more on Amir Peretz and Shimon Peres see the dispatch “Elections imminent as Shimon Peres ousted (& items on French riots, NY Times, Islam)” (November 10, 2005).

MAN BITES DOG; U.N. CONDEMNS HIZBULLAH

The United Nations Security Council has issued an unprecedented condemnation of Hizbullah, after the Lebanese terror group tried to kidnap three Israelis last week.

Amazingly, for once the U.N. told the truth, declaring that the incident had been instigated by Hizbullah, not Israel. It is thought that this decision is the direct result of the hard work done by the new American ambassador and Bush appointee to the U.N., John Bolton, who lobbied vigorously for this first ever condemnation of Hizbullah at the U.N.

At the funeral of three Hizbullah gunmen, returned by Israel following an unsuccessful kidnap attempt, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Nasrallah vowed to continue these attempts. He said “it’s our duty and our natural right” to do so.

Kofi Annan condemned the unprovoked attack by Hizbullah and accused the “Lebanon side” of having started the escalation.

The recent Hizbullah activity is thought to be aimed at easing international pressure on Syria over its involvement in the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

To see more on the assassination of Rafik Hariri please see the dispatch ‘Israel killed Hariri’: Latest Arab and Iranian conspiracy theory (February 15, 2005).

… BUT LEBANESE PM BLAMES ISRAEL FOR CLASHES

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora did not agree with the U.N. assessment. He said “Israeli breaches in the Lebanese airspace” caused the clashes. He added that tensions between Hizbullah and Israel were caused by “the continued occupation” of the Shebaa farms by the Israeli army [Mount Dov], a region under Syrian domination until 1967, which is now claimed by Hizbullah.

In January 2005, a U.N. Security Council resolution reasserted that the Lebanese claim to the Shebaa farms is “not compatible with Security Council resolutions.”

The article attached below suggests there is a changing atmosphere on the Lebanese front with Israel responding with “uncommon alacrity” in returning the three Hizbullah bodies so quickly for prompt Muslim burial.

EUROPE’S FIRST WOMAN SUICIDE BOMBER

According to De Standard, the main Flemish newspaper in Belgium, a woman suicide bomber who attempted to target a U.S. military convoy south of Baghdad on November 9 was from Brussels and named Murielle Degauque.

The 38-year-old Belgian-born covert to Islam may have caused up to six deaths according to media reports. She is believed to have converted to Islam after marrying a Moroccan Islamist radical.

A Belgian passport was found on her body with papers indicating she had entered Iraq via Turkey. Her husband is thought to have died in a separate attack. Her parents were from a middle-class district of Charleroi.

“This is our Belgian kamikaze killed in Iraq,” headlined the newspaper La Derniere Heure yesterday over a picture of a smiling girl looking into the camera. Neighbors said she was “nice”.

There have been several Palestinian women and teenage girls who have carried out and attempted to carry out suicide bomb attacks against Israeli men, women and children.

Around 10 percent of all suicide bombings the last 25 years from Sri Lanka to Tel Aviv have been carried out by women from the Middle East or Asia. This is, however, a first for a Western woman who has converted to Islam.

LOOK WHO IS ESPOUSING DEMOCRACY NOW

According to Jordan’s Al-Dustour daily, Iraqis have asked Saddam Hussein’s defense team to field the ousted dictator as a candidate for future elections.

“Iraqis have asked the defense team to study the legal conditions to present Saddam Hussein as a candidate for elections, first as an MP then as president,” former Qatari justice minister Najib al-Nuaimi told the paper on Wednesday. “If this contradicts the legal system then president Saddam will be nominated simply as a candidate.”

Nuaimi is among three foreign lawyers along with former US attorney general Ramsey Clark and Jordanian lawyer Issam Ghazzawi who were sworn in by the Iraqi court as members of Saddam’s defense at Monday’s hearing. “These Iraqis said ‘we have lost security after Saddam, how we wish he would return’,” Ghazzawi said.

Saddam and his co-accused have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and torture related to a massacre of Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982. Saddam and the other defendants could face the death penalty if convicted.

FATAH POLLS SUSPENDED DUE TO FRAUD

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has suspended primary elections of his ruling Fatah party over widespread voting fraud, much of it carried out by Fatah officials.

The primaries, Fatah’s first, have been seen as a key step for Abbas to assert control since Israel’s Gaza pullout in September and to get his long-dominant party ready to face down a political challenge from the extremist Islamic group Hamas. Full Palestinian elections are scheduled in January.

Abbas’s failure to hold orderly primaries to pick his party’s candidates raised fresh questions about his chances of governing in a responsible or democratic manner, as many ordinary Palestinians would like him to do.

(The corrupt ethos of many in the Fatah party is still dominated by its former leader Yasser Arafat, the biggest fraud of all.)

PALESTINIAN FINANCE MINISTER RESIGNS

The Palestinian Finance Minister, Salam Fayyad, has resigned in frustration over the Palestinian Authority’s failure to deal with its enormous financial problems.

He was thought to be angered at the controversial wage increase for Palestinian Authority officials. This violated a promise to the World Bank not to raise salaries above their ability to pay.

Fayyad was perhaps the most respected Palestinian leader in the international community. The U.S. and European Union had forced Yasser Arafat to appoint Fayyad to take over finances to install some credibility to the Palestinian Authority.

THE POPE HOSTS ABBAS THIS WEEKEND

The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is meeting Pope Benedict XVI in Rome this weekend. Abbas is expected to update the pontiff on political affairs and also to discuss the status of Christian holy sites in the Palestinian-controlled areas. The pope may visit the Holy Land next year.

HAMAS LEADER SAYS HE WON’T RENEW TRUCE

Speaking in Damascus to the Associated Press, the leader of Hamas said Wednesday that his group will not renew a “truce” with Israel when it expires at the end of the year.

Khalid Meshaal, whose group has carried out hundreds of murderous suicide attacks on Israelis over the years, also restated Hamas’ rejection of U.S. and Israeli demands to disarm.

“The resistance must go hand in hand with political work,” he said. “It is not accepted to pressure the resistance to choose between resistance and politics.”

To see an interview with Khalid Meshaal please see the dispatch Meshaal 1: Hamas leader speaks at length to BBC (April 20, 2004).

ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER THREATENS TO CLOSE ISRAEL-GAZA CROSSINGS

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday threatened to close the Erez and Karni crossing points between Israel and the Gaza Strip two days after it was revealed that an exiled Hamas fugitive had managed to re-enter Gaza from Egypt via the newly-reopened Rafah crossing point.

Fa’dil A-Zahhar apparently had no problem entering Gaza through the Rafah terminal on Tuesday, less than one week after it reopened under Palestinian control. Although Israel ultimately capitulated under intense American pressure, it had expressed its concern that terrorists and arms would enter into the Palestinian Authority through the now Palestinian-controlled Rafah.

Condoleezza Rice was widely criticized in Israel for the pressure she brought to bear on the Jewish state over this issue.

ANGELA MERKEL TO VISIT ISRAEL

The new German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Vice Israeli Prime Minister and Finance Minister Ehud Olmert that she would like to visit Israel soon. During a meeting at the Barcelona convention of European and Mediterranean leaders, Merkel told Olmert she may even visit before the Israeli elections in March,

The German leader also expressed admiration for what she called Ariel Sharon’s courage.

In reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Merkel added that “no tolerance” should be shown to those who threaten Israel’s existence.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE…

A report on Israeli Channel 2 television says that some top musical bands may also be visiting Israel in 2006. Depeche Mode, Eminem, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones could all be headed for the Jewish State.

It has also been announced that the French soccer team Paris St. Germain will play a friendly match in Israel against Betar Jerusalem. Diego Maradona, the vice-President of Argentinean club Boca Juniors, is also reportedly interested in bringing his team for a match against the Jerusalem team.

AHMADINEJAD THREATENS “SUPPORTERS OF THE ZIONIST ENTITY”

In the third and final article attached below, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues with the fiery rhetoric towards Israel, which has characterized his regime. This time he warned that Iranians will confront the “supporters of the Zionist entity,” who are “war criminals”.

Yesterday Ariel Sharon said of the Iranian nuclear situation: “Before anyone decides on a military step, every effort would be made to pressure Iran to halt this activity. It seems to me such efforts can be fruitful.”

He added: “I also accept what U.S. President Bush said, that Iran’s nuclear capabilities cannot be taken off the agenda. It is very much in the center of our attention, and I hope this activity would also bring things to a point whereby Iran faces the UN Security Council and this grave danger is handled.”

ISRAEL MILITARY INTEL CHIEF: MUST ACT AGAINST IRAN BY MARCH

The head of Israel’s military intelligence has told a parliamentary committee that if by March 2006 the international community has not reached an agreement with Iran that will end its nuclear program, diplomacy will be “pointless.”

Although Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash did not specifically mention military moves, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee who heard his presentation said they believed he was advocating a military option as early as April.

Ze’evi-Farkash also revealed that the Hizbullah was drawing up plans to unleash a massive barrage of rockets against civilians in the north of Israel.

I attach three articles below.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

ARIEL SHARON PLANS TO DRAW THE FINAL BORDERS OF ISRAEL

Prime minister plans to draw “the final shape of Israel”
By Harry de Quetteville
(London) Sunday Telegraph
November 27, 2005

Sixty years after the state of Israel was created, Ariel Sharon is effectively drawing its final borders, say his advisers, diplomats, friends … and the cartographers.

They believe that Mr Sharon, who as a general played a leading role in the expansion of Israel’s borders in successive wars since 1948, is now - as a politician - determined to set the country’s hitherto elastic frontiers in stone.

What is more, judging by his track record and the way public opinion is shifting, there is a real chance that he may succeed.

In 2002, he ordered the construction of the controversial separation barrier - an 18ft high combination of concrete wall and chain fence that snakes through the West Bank. Over the summer his government successfully oversaw the withdrawal of the thousands of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip.

Last week, the 77-year-old prime minister left his Right-wing Likud Party and founded a new one, a gamble that allies believe will enable him to win the election due in March, then pull out of more settlements - while cementing Israel’s grip on others.

“We’re beginning to see the final shape of Israel,” said one Western official. “Whatever the leaders say, Palestinian and Israeli public opinion is converging on the issue.” The official said that the separation barrier, which opponents argue effectively annexes 10 per cent of the West Bank, would ultimately define Israel’s eastern border, although it may not all be built exactly as now planned. The country will probably be forced to trim back some of the “huge claws” of Palestinian land that are scheduled to be surrounded by the wall around the northern settlement block of Ariel and the Jerusalem suburb of Maale Adumim.

Mr Sharon’s political manoeuvre delighted those who think his new centrist formation will attempt a negotiated peace settlement with the Palestinians.

“We are very optimistic,” said Yariv Oppenheimer, of the Peace Now organisation, which monitors Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories.

“This is a change in the political atmosphere. The fact that Sharon has broken with Likud means we have a good chance to remove settlements and push for a two-state solution.”

But defining the wall as a territorial border, rather than the “security" border which Israeli officials describe it as now, would still leave about 80,000 Israeli settlers on the Palestinian side. A final agreement would be likely to result in the evacuation of most of them, but Mr Sharon has previously insisted that Hebron - which is holy to both Jews and Muslims - must remain an enclave of Israeli territory, for religious reasons.

He has also said that Jordan Valley settlements would remain to bolster Israel’s security.

Despite the peace camp’s new found optimism, such a deal would not be acceptable to Palestinians, without concessions by Israel, which was criticised this week in an EU report for hampering Palestinian claims to a future capital in east Jerusalem by ringing that half of the city with settlements.

“Either the borders are those from 1967, or there is a swap of land that is equal in quality and quantity,” said Ghassan Khatib, the Palestinian Authority labour minister. “Palestinians will not settle for less.”

Prof Moshe Brawer, who advised Israel on its borders during peace negotiations with Egypt and Jordan, said that allowing the wall to become the border would not lead to peace.

“The Arab side has to be satisfied,” he said. “A very substantial number of settlements will have to be abandoned. Some could remain as enclaves, but the wall will split up the Palestinian territory and lead to more conflict."

The final settlement might include negotiated population exchanges between Jews in the West Bank and Israeli Arabs, “to make new boundaries seem more reasonable”.

David Newman, a professor of political geography at Ben Gurion University, said: “In the next few years negotiations will be increasingly based on demography.”

Shifting people is likely to prove highly sensitive. But Mr Sharon is determined. “Look, he did not leave Likud because he is looking for a job,” said one adviser. “He is looking to fulfil his agenda. It’s exciting.”

 


“IS SOMETHING HAPPENING BEHIND THE SCENES?”

Israel: Time for changes on Lebanese front
By Joshua Brilliant
United Press International
November 25, 2005

Israel responded with uncommon alacrity to a Lebanese request to return the bodies of three Hezbollah guerillas killed in a failed raid on the village of Ghajar.

The bodies were brought to the border and transferred to the International Red Cross that took them to Lebanon, Friday.

Photographers were invited to cover the event and a statement the army spokesman issued stated, “The transfer comes in response to the Lebanese government’s request.”

It was the second time, this week, that the defense establishment stressed Israel reacted to Lebanese government requests. In the past officials belittled Lebanon’s governments.

Is something happening behind the scenes? Judging by Monday’s battle with Hezbollah, interviews with government and military officers the answer seems to be: No, but we’re trying to change that.

Israel withdrew from Lebanon, unconditionally, in May 2000. It deployed along a line the United Nations set.

However, across the border it sees Hezbollah fighters, whom it considers terrorists, not Lebanese soldiers.

The commander of the 91st Israeli division that is deployed along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, led reporters outside his office Thursday, past several trees to an open space, and pointed at two towers a few hundred meters away. Hezbollah’s yellow flag was fluttering over one of them.

Hezbollah’s front line positions are small and often vacated after clashes. However, inland, it has an arsenal of more than 12,000 rockets some of which can reach targets south of Haifa.

Israeli officials maintain that Iran and Syria, which back Hezbollah, wanted to heat up the border area to deflect world pressure on Teheran and Damascus. A senior Israeli military source said he suspected Hezbollah sought to spark a fight, kidnap soldiers, draw the Israelis into Lebanon (for example by chasing after the missing soldiers) and thus justify continuation of the fight. The BBC this week quoted unmanned Lebanese security sources as having say the raid was designed to take Israeli hostages.

Israeli intelligence knew an attack was coming. The army was on alert and senior commanders approached the U.N. peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, to prevent an outburst.

“We talked to the U.N. representatives a few times, even the chief commander of UNIFIL ... made meetings,” but it was futile, a senior military source said.

Contacting the Lebanese directly appeared to be out of the question. “I cannot talk with a Lebanese general. I do not talk with anyone there, I do not have any kind of address there,” Brig. Hirsch said.

Monday’s fighting was the heaviest in years. It raged almost along the entire border from the Israeli town of Shlomi, near the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Dov on the Golan (which the Lebanese call the Shaba Farms and claim as their own despite the U.N. ruling).

Hezbollah fired hundreds of mortar bombs and rockets, more than 100 anti tank missiles some of which hit Israeli positions and Israel’s northernmost town of Metulah. Fires raged at position Tulip near Ghajar and Thursday soldiers were still examining the results. One of the rockets crashed into the side of the road to Ghajar and a bomb disposal expert was seen knelling over it, smelling its contents.

The shelling was coupled with two raids, one of them into Ghajar, apparently to kidnap soldiers guarding its entrance. The attackers reached a round, unfinished gray house overlooking the entrance but an Israeli paratrooper waiting in ambush in a nearby white house opened fire, killed the three gunmen and foiled the attack.

Israeli planes and artillery struck across the border. They hit several roads and a bridge to block the guerrillas’ escape routes but otherwise concentrated on Hezbollah facilities.

Eventually Hezbollah contacted UNIFIL and requested a cease-fire. The Israelis refused. “We’re not talking to terrorists,” they said.

According to Israeli intelligence assessments Hezbollah’s member of Cabinet asked Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to “save their lives.” Siniora contacted UNIFIL.

“After a few requests from the Lebanese government through UNIFIL, when we were sure it comes from Mr. Siniora personally, we agreed to cease fire at 00:30 (on Tuesday) and that’s what happened,” a senior military source said.

Siniora’s request meant his government assumed responsibility for the border area, Israeli officials maintained. “There is an address,” a military spokeswoman said.

The other implied message was aimed at the Lebanese people: ‘Look who obtained the ceasefire and who got the bodies repatriated. It’s the government, not Hezbollah.’

For years Israeli officials realized the Lebanese government was too weak to assert its authority. The Syrians were interested in keeping Hezbollah alive to harass Israel and since the Syrians dominated Beirut, there was little the Lebanese government could do.

Now the situation has changed. Syria was forced to pull its troops out and its President Bashar Assad is in the defensive.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 requires Hezbollah be disarmed and the Lebanese government can do so, reporters were told during a briefing at the 91st division headquarters.

Alluding to the fact that Hezbollah ran in the elections and is probably more attuned to Lebanese public opinion, an Israeli officer predicted: “When ... the leadership of Lebanon would insist on disarming them that would happen without using any kind of force.”

Meanwhile Israel is planning to raise UNIFIL’s conduct with the Security Council members and with U.N. Secretary General Koffi Anan, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.

The U.N. is supposed to support the disarming of all the armed militias in Lebanon but UNIFIL has, “A collaborative relationship with Hezbollah,” he said.

UNIFIL failed to prevent Monday’s attack, its presence hampered Israel’s retaliation, reporters were told. That is why Hirsch maintained it should leave.

Hezbollah border outposts are located 50 meters from UNIFIL’s positions “because Hezbollah wants the U.N. presence there as a shelter, a shield.”

In some places Israel refrained from attacking Hezbollah positions because the U.N. peacekeepers were too close. “I am talking of 20 meters, or 50 meters I cannot attack (there because of the danger) of collateral damage,” reporters were told.

In Jerusalem, Regev told United Press International “There should be a rethinking of the UNIFIL mandate.”

However in Beirut, UNIFIL’s spokesman Milos Strugar said they have done “everything” in accordance with their mandate, mission and capabilities. That mandate never included “enforcement power,” he maintained.

“We have to rely on the will of the parties. We cannot force something they do not want to (do). This is how a peace-keeping force like UNIFIL functions,” Strugar said.

Its 2,000-armed soldiers have light weapons and can use them only for self-defense, he noted. The Indian and Ghanaian battalions are deployed in 21 positions near the border and in 14 sites inside Lebanon and have recently intensified their patrols he said. And, “We brokered the cease-fire,” he noted.

 


AHMADINEJAD: IRAN WILL CONFRONT “SUPPORTERS OF THE ZIONIST ENTITY”

Iran president warns ‘Zionist supporters’
United Press International
November 26, 2005

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad warned Saturday the Iranians will confront the “supporters of the Zionist entity,” describing them as “war criminals.”

Addressing thousands of Basij (militant volunteer) forces, Ahmedinejad vowed the “revolutionary people of the Islamic Republic will stand up to the enemies who seek to violate the rights of the Iranian nation.”

The official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the president as saying that “those whose hands are stained with blood of thousands of innocent people now pretend to advocate human rights in the face of the Iranian nation.”

He said those who support the “Zionist regime, which kills thousands of innocent Palestinians, have no right to talk about human rights,” adding they were “suspects and should be put on trial as war criminals in the future.”

Ahmedinejad accused Western powers of supporting the toppled Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, saying they have “made use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons against nations, and in Iraq, they used depleted uranium.”

He went on to say that while Western nations accuse Iran of pursuing non-peaceful nuclear programs, “we believe your nuclear activities are used against humanity.”

The news agency said the Iranian leader’s comments came as millions from the Basij forces held demonstrations and formed human chains across the country in support of Iran’s “legitimate right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes.”


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.