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February 14, 2005


Brigadier Yossi Kupperwasser, a senior IDF intelligence officer, says there has been a dramatic drop in Palestinian terror attacks against Israel. Briefing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the officer said the new situation reflects the changes carried out by new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. At the same time, the Palestinian Security apparatus was not dismantling the terror infrastructure and Hamas has agreed to a lull in attacks but not a cease-fire.

The Israeli view is that Syria is responsible for the huge car bomb that murdered former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and many others in Beirut. Hariri recently criticized Syria’s refusal to end its occupation of Lebanon.

February 10, 2005


In the Gaza Strip, Hamas terrorists have fired dozens of mortars, Qassam rockets and anti-tank missiles at Israeli settlements. There have been no Israeli casualties but one building was hit and the electricity grid was damaged. Hamas says it was reacting to the death of a Palestinian by IDF gunfire. The IDF says troops opened fire when they spotted a group of four Palestinians trying to infiltrate the settlement of Atzmona.

February 08, 2005


At their Sharm el Sheikh summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have announced a cease-fire. Abbas said all attacks against Israelis everywhere would be halted. The newly elected Palestinian leader declared that the quiet starting today was a new start on the road to peace and the first step toward the Roadmap which calls for Israel and Palestine to live in peace. The cessation of hostilities would grant both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples the opportunity to move swiftly ahead in the peace negotiations.

At the same time, Abbas called for a halt to Israeli settlement activity, and the release of all Palestinian prisoners. He criticized Israel’s building of the security fence to keep out suicide bombers, saying the fence was not conducive to co-existence. As for the permanent settlement, the Palestinians seek a state on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem its capital and the Palestinian leader also said the refugee issue must be resolved in the final status negotiations.

Abbas, as did Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, also called for Syria and Lebanon to be included in the peace process. For his part, the Palestinian leader pledged to keep all his commitments adding that the Palestinian people had opted for peace by voting him into office in last month’s election. He declared that the Palestinians must have ‘one authority and one gun!’ However, Abbas added this must be achieved not by force but through dialogue.

February 04, 2005

THIS WEEK 4-2-2005

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and newly-elected President Mahmoud Abbas are about to meet at the invitation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Although both sides have started pulling back from the four and a half years of bloodshed and violence: they are at odds over the scope of concessions in this phase. About to make her entrance on the new Middle East stage is the new U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

January 23, 2005


The Israeli town of Sderot and other villages and settlements finally enjoyed a quiet weekend. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas deployed hundreds of his security forces to prevent the launching of Qassam rockets and mortars at the Israeli towns and villages. The terrorist groups of Hamas and Islamic Jihad say Israel must pay a price for their halting the violence. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held the weekly cabinet session in the town of Sderot, which has been hit by some 600 Qassam rockets launched from across the border in the Gaza Strip. Elsewhere in the Southern Gaza Strip and the West Bank, clashes continued between the terrorists and IDF troops. Interviewed on Israel Television's IBA News, David Essing assessed the latest developments with anchor Yochanan Elrom.

January 20, 2005


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has entered the ‘make or break’ phase. IDF troops and tanks have been ordered ‘on standby’ to silence the mounting Palestinian attacks in and from the Gaza Strip. However, Israel’s security cabinet is taking Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his word - that he sincerely wants to stop the terrorism and get back to the conference table. Either the new Palestinian leader delivers on his pledge or Israeli officials say the IDF will do what it takes to protect the country’s citizens.

January 18, 2005


Newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen, is about to call on the fanatic Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations in the Gaza Strip to call off their attacks on Israel. On his first visit to Gaza since the January 9th election, Abbas has reportedly ordered Palestinian security forces to halt the rocketing of Israeli towns and villages. His security forces were said to be taking up position in the areas of Gaza used by the terrorists to launch Qassam rockets and mortars. However, on the ground there has been little change in the Palestinian shelling. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon traveled to the Erez Crossing to Gaza to meet top IDF commanders. He again warned of the consequences if the Palestinian attacks continue. What are the chances that Mahmoud Abbas will succeed? Israeli left and right wing Knesset members are split about the new leader’s real intentions.

January 17, 2005


The residents of Sderot say they've had enough and held a general strike to protest Prime Minister Sharon's failure to halt the Palestinian shelling of their town from over the border in the Gaza Strip. Wearing black ribbons they gathered in the town square for prayers. Most of the six Israelis murdered in last Thursday's suicide bombing lived in Sderot which has been continually terrorized by the Qassam rockets and mortars from Gaza.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas now says he has ordered his security forces to prevent attacks against Israel; Israeli officials say 'We'll watch for results'.

January 14, 2005

THIS WEEK 14.01.05

THIS WEEK, a review of some of the main news stories in the week ending January 14th.

January 10, 2005


Israel and the Palestinians are both on the move. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has forged a new Israeli cabinet bound on withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. The Knesset vote was 58 in favor, 56 including 13 Likud rebels against, while 6 MKs abstained. Sharon squeaked through with the help of left wing Yachad, Arab MKs and former Shinui MK Yossi Paritsky. In another surprise vote, UTJ MK Meir Porush abstained. Meanwhile in the Palestinian Autonomy, President-elect Mahmoud Abbas took 62 % of the vote in yesterday’s historic election. Outside the Knesset, 15,000 rightwing demonstrators protested against the withdrawal.

January 04, 2005


Shabak Security Chief Avi Dichter presented a grave picture in his semi-annual report to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Dichter analyzed the current Palestinian escalation in Gaza, new Palestinian terror threats and the threat from Jewish extremists during the upcoming withdrawal from Gaza and four West Bank settlements.

December 27, 2004


In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reviewed the current state of his political and military thinking. In addition to warning that the IDF will react very severely, if the Palestinians attack Israeli civilians during next year’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements, Sharon also took the wraps off several other burning issues.

December 23, 2004


Where does Tony Blair’s visit and the reactions of Ariel Sharon and the Palestinian leaders reveal about where things are headed in the post-Arafat era? The endgame of the current international drive is the establishing of an independent Palestinian state. The foreign leaders, coming on their political pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian Authority after Arafat’s death, are coming with the message of ‘Carpe Diem’ - Seize the Day!’ Make no mistake, the U.S. mired in the quicksand of Iraq, is also on board. The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is now perceived as a must for a united stand against the global war against terrorism. And it is against this backdrop that U.S. President George W. Bush has spoken about the need for a Palestinian state in the Palestinian areas if peace is to reign in the region.

December 21, 2004


IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon has reacted sharply to calls by settler leader Pinhas Wallerstein and others to resist the Gaza withdrawal and for IDF soldiers to disobey orders for the evacuation. Attorney-General Menachem Mazzuz has ordered an enquiry into whether Wallerstein should be indicted for calling on settlers to resist the withdrawal without violence and be ready to go to prison if need be. In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, General Yaalon said the IDF Advocate-General conducts an enquiry into every case where an innocent Palestinian has been hit by IDF gunfire and the report reaches his desk. At the briefing, a senior IDF intelligence officer revealed that sixty percent fewer Israelis have been killed by Palestinian suicide bombers this year.

December 16, 2004


Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presented an optimistic forecast for the year 2005. Addressing the Herzliya Conference, Sharon pledged to work for peace with the Palestinians spoke of peace with the Palestinians. In his first major address since the death of Yasser Arafat, the Prime Minister said it was possible for an Israeli and a Palestinian state to live in peace. However, a new and responsible Palestinian leadership must eliminate terrorism and incitement.

December 13, 2004


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.

November 12, 2004


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.

November 09, 2004


The official news that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will not be taken off his life-support system was taken in stride by Israel. When Arafat was flown to Paris in serious condition last week, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon instructed his cabinet ministers to clam up, in light of the delicate situation. Jerusalem has been in a ‘wait and see’ mode - not wanting to be accused of intervening in the Palestinians’ internal affairs. The IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon did refer to what he called a new Middle East crossroad when he briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

November 05, 2004

HISTORIC JUNCTURE A View Of the New Crossroads From Jerusalem

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has now entered a new historic juncture. Three roads now intersect; optimists hope it will lead from the current battleground to a new and different landscape; the pessimists feel it will be more of the same.

October 31, 2004


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.