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January 21, 2005

THIS WEEK - January 21

David Essing reportson some of the main news developments over the past seven days

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January 11, 2005

SHARON'S STABILITY

Sharon's New Coalition Cabinet Holds First Cabinet Session. Several Likud Cabinet Ministers Annoyed At Government's Survival Depending On Support Of Far Left And Arab MKs.Likud 'Rebels' Likely To Vote For State Budget, After All Withdrawal Items Are Deleted.

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January 09, 2005

PALESTINIANS & HIZBALLAH

While Palestinians were going quietly to the polls on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Hizballah gunmen from Lebanon set off a road side bomb which killed one IDF officer. It was the second deadly terrorist attack in fourty-eight hours. On Friday, Palestinian terrorists exploited the IDF's let-up in offensive operations during the election period and ambushed an Israeli car killing another IDF soldier. David Essing says theses attacks highlight the situation that new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will have to confront.

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians were going quietly to the polls to elect a new President to replace the late Yasser Arafat. In the north, Hizballah guerillas armed by Iran and Syria went on the offensive sending a signal to the Palestinians.

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December 28, 2004

SHARON SETBACK

The vote in the Knesset Law Committee was a tie; eight-all on legislation needed to implement Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements by the end of 2005. Reporter David Essing says there was more than one big surprise in the tie vote: Likud hard-liners have vowed to fight Sharon’s withdrawal every step of the way. In the Knesset Law committee Arab Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who surprisingly abstained in the vote to get Israeli settlers out of Gaza, joined them in defeating the bill.

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December 20, 2004

CIVIL WAR OR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE?

Left-wing Critics Warn Wallerstein’s Call Could Lead To Civil War And Demand Prosecution By Attorney General MazzuzCombined Settlers Council: 'We Support Wallerstein’s Call For Non-Violent Resistance’

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December 19, 2004

THIS WEEK (Dec. 19 2004)

After a week or so of wrangling, the ruling Likud party and Labor from the opposition have apparently wrapped up a new national unity government to carry out a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements. However, at the same time that Sharon was building a cabinet to approve the evacuation, the Palestinian terrorists were escalating their attacks. The IDF hit back, launching an operation into the Khan Yunis area. Despite the Palestinian escalation, Prime Minister Sharon called on the Palestinians to take advantage of the ‘great opportunity’ for peace after the death of Yasser Arafat. U.S. President George Bush repeated that Israeli-Palestinian peace was at the top of his agenda; however, Syria’s President Bashar Assad would have to get in the waiting line.

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December 16, 2004

TUNNEL DETECTION!

IsraCast reported the IDF would have to ‘pull out all the stops and find a high-tech solution for detecting underground tunnels, after the Dec.12th explosion killed five Israeli soldiers and wounded six others in the Gaza Strip.In an exclusive interview with David Essing, Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim reveals that the IDF is on the brink of developing an effective counter-measure.Boim also says although the IDF will react to the current upsurge in Palestinian terrorism, the Palestinian election is also a factor. For her part, Israel is doing everything necessary to help ensure a free and fair ballot on January 9th. The IDF is going all out to find a counter-measure for detecting explosives tunnels, like the one that blew up the JVT position in the Gaza Strip. Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim analyzes the new situation.

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December 15, 2004

COALITION CAPERS

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December 13, 2004

TWILIGHT ZONE

In the Gaza Strip, five IDF soldiers were killed and another six were injured, one critically, when Palestinian terrorists tunneled under an Israeli position and detonated more than a ton of explosives. The blast totally demolished the post which was manned by Israeli Muslim Bedouins who serve in the Desert Reconnaissance Battalion. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz held urgent consultations with the IDF Chief of Staff and Shabak Security Director and then ordered a series of localized retaliatory actions. For the first time since Arafat’s death, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has criticized the Palestinian leadership for not doing enough to halt the violence.At the same time, Analyst David Essing believes the latest tunnel attack will spur the IDF into finding a high-tech solution to the Palestinian use of tunneling as a tactic of warfare.

Explosive tunnels - a new and deadly tactic in Palestinian warfare against the IDF in the Gaza Strip.IDF military planners will now be forced to speed up a high-tech counter-measure to uncover tunnels packed by explosives which can be detonated under Israeli military positions or civilian sites.

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December 10, 2004

SHARON - THE MORNING AFTER

After his decisive victory at the Likud convention, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lost no time in inviting Labor, Shas and United Torah Judaism to join a new government coalition. The dramatic vote reversed an earlier decision three months ago, giving Sharon a 62-38% win. Although Likud cabinet minister Ehud Olmert says the inclusion of Labor will mean the Gaza withdrawal is now ‘in the bag’, MK Zvi Hendel of the National Union warns that Sharon’s brutal withdrawal tactics may trigger a civil war. David Essing has this analysis of what is being as an historic milestone in the country’s history:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has won back his Likud party and apparently a new coalition. The door is now wide open, for Sharon to carry out a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.

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December 07, 2004

GETTING SERIOUS IN NEW MIDDLE EAST

Throughout the region, the talk today is about the prospect the Middle East may be on the brink of compromise and peace, instead of embroiled in bloodshed and terrorism. The flurry of optimism has been triggered by Egypt’s dramatic release of the Israeli Druze citizen Azam Azam. But there are other moves afoot and David Essing has this analysis of why and where things may be headed.

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November 25, 2004

SHARON’S GRIDLOCK

Time may be running out for Prime Minister Sharon. The opposition Labor party, headed by Shimon Peres has now decided to table a no-confidence over the government’s economic policy in light of statistics indicating that more Israelis are now living in poverty. So, will Sharon be able to survive in his uphill battle to muster a parliamentary majority to implement his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. But this is only one of the Prime Minister’s headaches these days; Shinui leader Tommy Lapid threatens to bolt the coalition if Sharon makes a political payoff to an ultra- orthodox party for supporting the new draft budget.

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November 12, 2004

YASSER ARAFAT & MAHMOUD ABBAS (ABU-MAZEN)

Where Has Yasser Arafat Taken The Palestinians And Where Will Abu-Mazen Lead them Now? Dr. Dan Schueftan, Middle East expert at Haifa University, analyzes the newly evolving situation.

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November 08, 2004

JTA AUDIO REPORTS

What does the re-election of Pres. George W. Bush auger for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict? How is the the new Bush Administration likely to react if a new moderate and pragmatic Palestinian leadership takes over from Yasser Arafat? Ron Kampeas, JTA’s Washington Bureua Chief discusses these and other questions in a wide ranging interview with David Essing:

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November 01, 2004

REACTIONS - TEL AVIV BOMBING

Israeli officials say they are not surprised by the latest suicide bombing in Tel Aviv despite the fact that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been hospitalized in Paris. Three Israelis, two women and a man were murdered when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up his explosives in the crowded open air Carmel market of Tel Aviv. More than 30 others were injured, some of them seriously. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made clear that he holds Palestinian leaders responsible. At a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, a senior IDF Intelligence officer spoke of the terrorism continuing despite Arafat’s absence. Although Israel has a lot of details, it is not enough for a diagnosis of the Palestinian leader’s condition.

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October 31, 2004

SHARON - THE DAY AFTER

The Israeli Cabinet has discussed the new situation in light of Yasser Arafat being flown to Paris for urgent medical treatment. At the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Sharon spoke about the possibility of resuming the Roadmap peace process, if a new Palestinian leadership takes over. On the other hand, the Prime Minister was adamant that Arafat would not be buried in Jerusalem as long as Sharon is in office. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also weighed in on how Israel should deal with a new Palestinian leadership, if Arafat drops out.

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October 28, 2004

ARAFAT - THE DAY AFTER

Could the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be on a new threshold? Hopefully turning from terrorism and bloodshed to negotiation and peace? Or might the Palestinians be headed for a bloody power struggle with the extremists gaining the upper hand? This is the question Israelis are now asking if and when a new Palestinian leadership succeeds the reign of Yasser Arafat. In what is viewed as a conciliatory step, Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala has telephoned Ariel Sharon to apprise him of the situation. The Israeli Prime Minister offered all possible medical aid.

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October 27, 2004

LIKUD MELTDOWN OVER GAZA?

Where is the ruling Likud Party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon now headed? The party split down the middle; some Likud MKs voted for Sharon’s withdrawal while others opposed it. In addition, Sharon’s party rival Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and three other cabinet ministers issued an ultimatum, warning they will resign if the Prime Minister does not agree to a national referendum within 2 weeks. Meir Sheetrit another Likud cabinet minister says the cabinet ‘rebels’ backed down in yesterday’s vote and he believes they will again.

However, Likud Cabinet Minister Uzi Landau and Deputy Minister Michael Ratzon now say that 5 more Likud cabinet ministers also oppose the pullout and Sharon’s opponents are now a majority in the Likud Knesset caucus.

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October 26, 2004

KNESSET SAYS YES TO GAZA WITHDRAWAL

Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, has voted in favor of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip and 4 northern Samaria settlements by the end of next year. However, there was high drama hours before the vote when Binyamin Netanyahu, Sharon’s main rival in the Likud party, served an ultimatum to the Prime Minister; Netanyahu and three other ministers Livnat, Katz and Naveh threatened to resign unless Sharon agreed to hold a national referendum on the evacuation within 14 days. But then in the Knesset vote, the four rebel ministers caused an up-roar when they voted for Sharon’s proposal. Analyst David Essing says Netanyahu has blinked first in what is now an open confrontation with Sharon.

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October 23, 2004

DISENGAGEMENT SHOWDOWN

On October 25th, the Knesset is set for an historic vote on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements by the end of next year. Although the common wisdom is that Sharon will garner a majority, analyst David Essing says the Prime Minister needs a decisive win to stem campaign being mounted by opponents to the withdrawal.

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