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January 24, 2006

IDF CRACK DOWN ON SETTLERS

Chief of Staff Dan Halutz declared the IDF is about to implement two rulings by Israel's Supreme Court on two illegal settler sites. The illegal Amona outpost on the West Bank would be demolished by January 31st. In addition, illegal Jewish settlers will be evicted from the controversial Hebron market area. In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, General Halutz disclosed there is no agreement on the Gaza terminals after Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had early implied that there was such a deal with Egypt and the Palestinians.

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January 20, 2006

TEHRAN, DAMASCUS, TEL AVIV & BIN LADEN

Is there a connection between the Iranian-Syrian backing for the latest Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and Osama bin Laden's new threat to attack the U.S? There may not be at present, but if Iran is allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, it may be just a matter of time before terror organizations such as Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihad also go nuclear.

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January 18, 2006

OLMERT'S BAPTISM OF FIRE

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held his first news conference spelling out his position on the looming Iranian nuclear threat and the Palestinian election next week. Olmert left no doubt where he stands on the recent threats by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel being 'wiped off the map' as Tehran renews its nuclear weapons program in defiance of international criticism. In a new development, the acting PM is sending a delegation to Moscow. Russia is building the Iranian nuclear reactor at busher. As for the Palestinians, Olmert said he hoped to reach a permanent peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas but within the Roadmap framework.

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January 04, 2006

MORE SHARON SCANDAL

A Channel 10 TV report has quoted Israel Police sources, as saying there is 'circumstantial evidence' that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received a $3 million bribe. Part of the illegal money was used to pay election debts while the rest remained in the Sharon family coffers. The kickback was said to have come from Austrian gambling tycoons. The opposition parties are demanding full disclosure from the PM and a speedy enquiry. So, what impact is the latest leak likely to have on the election campaign?

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December 30, 2005

ELECTION CATCH-UP

The news that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is about to undergo a minor heart procedure has not affected the latest campaign polls. In Labor, party leader Amir Peretz kicked off his campaign with the slogan 'Labor, the time has come!' But questions are being asked after Labor has dropped from 26 to 19 seats in the polls. In the Likud, Bibi Netanyahu charges that Sharon is not telling all about his health and challenges the PM to face him in a series of TV debates. Sharon declines and has now recruited highly rated Avi Dichter, the former Shabak security chief, to help take on Netanyahu and Peretz.

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December 23, 2005

ASHKELON & HAMAS-STAN

In reaction to the latest Qassam rocketing of the Israeli town of Ashkelon, Israel is adopting a new security zone policy along the border of the Gaza Strip. Israeli artillery, aircraft and naval vessels will be stepping up their operations. However, Israeli forces will not re-enter the Gaza Strip, which was evacuated last summer. Israel is adopting new measures after a number of IDF troops were wounded when Qassams launched from Gaza slammed into the Ashkelon area again, this time hitting an army base. Dr. Dan Schueftan, a Middle East expert at Haifa University assessed various aspects of the situation with reporter David Essing:

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December 22, 2005

PALESTINIAN ROCKETING OF ASHKELON

The Palestinian rocketing of the Israeli town of Ashkelon continues without let-up. This time, five IDF soldiers have been wounded. The Qassam rockets are being launched from the Gaza Strip that Israel voluntarily evacuated last summer and from some of the former settlements that are within eyesight of the Ashkelon power plant. Actually, the power station supplies electricity to the Palestinians in Gaza. But not only the power plant and fuel depot in Ashkelon are at risk, the rockets could also hit an Israeli school or kindergarten. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been ordered to rest after his mild stroke but he is obviously going to have to take some hard decisions

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December 16, 2005

HAMASLAND vs. PALESTINE

Is Hamas, a terror organization bound on Israel's destruction, on the way to winning the Palestinian general election in January? Yes, says Shabak Security Chief Yuval Diskin who is quoted by the Israeli daily Maariv.Until now, the Israeli assessment was that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement would come in first. In the Gaza Strip, despite Israel's evacuation last summer, terrorists there have escalated their attacks and again launched Qassam rockets at the Israeli town of Ashqelon to the north. The IDF is striking back with air raids, sonic booms and artillery.

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November 30, 2005

MARCH DEADLINE FOR IRAN

Appearing at a closed-door session of the Kneset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Maj.Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, the chief of IDF Intelligence Branch, has presented a detailed briefing. Gen. Zeevi-Farkash updated the committee on how IDF intelligence assesses latest developments in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and along the Lebanese border.

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November 14, 2005

SHARON & RICE CLASH OVER HAMAS

Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have differed over the participation of the Hamas terror organization in the Palestinian elections set for January. At the PM's office in Jerusalem, Sharon said Israel will not interfere in the Palestinian elections but neither will it coordinate with the Palestinians if Hamas is allowed to run. Secretary Rice contended that the experience in northern Ireland and Angola had proved that it would be easier to force Hamas to disarm after the elections due to international pressure.

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November 07, 2005

SHARON REJECTS U.S. PRESSURE OVER HAMAS

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has rejected American pressure to allow the Hamas terror organization to participate in the Palestinian election in January. Sharon was addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, shortly before the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has been pressing Jerusalem to cooperate with the participation of Hamas. Right wing MKs contend that to do so would be similar to the U.S. agreeing to negotiate with Al Qaeda.

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November 04, 2005

ISRAEL REFLECTS ON YITZHAK RABIN

November 4th marks the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It is time of memorial services and political soul-searching in the Jewish state which still confronts the same threats and dilemmas as it did ten years ago. Where has the country been since then and where might it be today, if Rabin had survived?

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October 27, 2005

BACK TO THE FUTURE

15:42 : A powerful bomb blast rips through the market of Hadera. The unsuspecting group of Israelis never knew what hit them before they were literally blown to smithereens. Twenty-year old Hassan Abu-Zeid, a member of the Islamic Jihad organization had detonated over ten pounds of explosives he was carrying in a satchel. Five people were murdered outright, over thirty others were wounded, some of them critically. In the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Jihad was quick to claim responsibility while Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas again condemned terrorism against Israel, warning that the violence was sabotaging a future Palestinian state. While the terrorists were bombing in Hadera, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

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October 23, 2005

THIS WEEK 22.10.05

The U.N. enquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has placed responsibility at the door of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Syrian dictator must decide how to cope with the mounting crisis, apparently of his own making. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas went to Washington and a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush against the backdrop of the Palestinian Authority’s lack of response in reining in terrorism. Although the Palestinians are trying to put a brave face on the outcome, the fate of the Palestinian state may also be at stake. In Israel, the Maariv daily carried a banner headline that Binyamin Netanyahu may quit politics after his failed attempt to topple Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

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October 20, 2005

IDF INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

The Chief of IDF Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash has warned that Iran's nuclear weapons program is a threat to Europe no less than it is to Israel. In an interview with the Israeli daily Maariv, the intelligence official also said Israel should not rule out a military option, if the diplomatic approach fails to deter Tehran from continuing its clandestine program to produce nuclear weapons. As for the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas will back down rather than face a military confrontation with the terror groups that defy his authority. Gen. Zeevi-Farkash believes it is only a matter of time before the U.S. attacks Syria, if President Bashar Assad continues to allow the flow of guerrillas and explosives across the Syrian border into Iraq.

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October 17, 2005

ROADMAP TO MORE PALESTINIAN TERRORISM

What are the implications on the ground of the two deadly drive-by shooting raids on the West Bank? Two Israeli young women and a teenage youth were shot dead when gunmen cruised by in a car spraying machine gun fire at a group of Israeli civilians near the hitch-hiking station at the Gush Etzion Junction. Three more Israelis were wounded. A short time later, terrorists in another car opened fire a group of boys walking near the settlement of Ali. One youngster was injured. Israel has reacted by closing some main roads to private Palestinian vehicles and reimposing roadblocks and closures. The IDF is also stepping up arrests and targeted killing of terrorists. The latest attacks came on the day that Palestinian leader Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) left on a trip to Washington for a meeting with U.S. President George Bush. In an interview with IsraCast, Shalom Harari a Palestinian expert at the Herzlyia Inter-disciplinary Center and a Brig. Gen. (res.) in the IDF intelligence Corps, assesses the situation.

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October 07, 2005

BUSH TARGETS SYRIA & IRAN

In one of his most forceful speeches, U.S. President George W. Bush has condemned Syria and Iran for supporting Islamist terrorism in general and Iraq in particular. Speaking in the White House, Bush declared that Iraq had become the battleground for the confrontation and he was determined to stay the course despite mounting criticism at home and abroad. What are the implications of the Bush address for Israel, the target of Palestinian terrorism that is also backed by Syria and Iran? Zalman Shoval, a foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., discussed various aspects with David Essing.

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October 03, 2005

THE YEAR 5765

The past Jewish year of 5765 has ended with the state of Israel and the Palestinians at a new juncture. Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements under the leadership of a national unity government while the Palestinians are now in the throes of an internal confrontation. David Essing sums up the outgoing year and looks ahead to the new Jewish year of 5766.

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September 30, 2005

NEW RULES

After launching forty Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel's western Negev, Israel renewed its counter-terror operations. By week's end, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and even the Islamic jihad were calling for a return to the former cease-fire. However, Israeli officials say 'new rules' now apply; after Israel's total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, there will be no return to the 'low intensity' warfare. What are the implications on the ground and for the Roadmap peace process? What is the approach of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after implementing the unilateral withdrawal and nearly being trounced by former Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Likud party convention? Dr. Raanan Gissin, Sharon's media advisor discusses the issues in this interview with David Essing.

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September 25, 2005

ESCALATION IN THE GAZA STRIP

It all began during a Hamas rally at the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Friday. The Hamas members brought in pickup trucks loaded with Qassam rockets and explosives while waving their guns and shooting to all directions. The explosives were accidentally triggered, apparently as a result of the shooting, and the truck blew up, killing at least 19 Palestinians and injuring another 120. The Hamas was quick to blame Israel, which denied having anything to do with the incident.

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