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January 16, 2005

‘DEFENSIVE SHIELD’ IN GAZA?

There has been no let up in the Palestinian terror attacks from the Gaza Strip. On Thursday night, Palestinian suicide bombers blew up Israel’s Karni terminal murdering six Israeli civilians. The terminal is used to transport medicine and food to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Since then, Palestinians have launched more Qassam rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and villages. One seventeen-year-old girl was critically wounded in Sderot while shielding her ten-year-old brother who was seriously hurt. After suspending all contacts with the new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Sharon told the Israeli cabinet: ‘The Palestinian leader is not lifting a finger to halt the terrorism’.

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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.

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January 13, 2005

SHARON & SHAS

Prime Minister Sharon managed to win a narrow Knesset majority for his new disengagement cabinet, but he is now facing a new crisis. Sharon’s Likud party expresses mounting annoyance over the Prime Minister’s dependence on Arab and Left-wing Yachad Knesset members. It was only with their votes that Sharon gained Knesset approval for his new cabinet with Labor and United Torah Judaism. Sharon has now turned to Shas, another ultra-orthodox party, in order to bring them into the coalition and silence Likud criticism. However, Shas is demanding major changes in the new state budget and a free vote when it comes to the withdrawal.

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January 10, 2005

SHARON & ABBAS - THE VICTORS

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.

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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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January 07, 2005

THIS WEEK, A REVIEW OF SOME OF THE MAIN NEWS STORIES IN ISRAEL OVER THE PAST SEVEN DAYS.

On Monday, Prime Minister Sharon presents his new disengagement government for the Knesset’s approval in Jerusalem. But as Sharon’s withdrawal regains momentum, so does resistance raising the specter of civil violence and bloodshed.

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January 04, 2005

NEW PALESTINIAN & JEWISH TERROR

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.

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January 02, 2005

ELECTION RHETORIC OR YASSER ARAFAT, REINCARNATED?

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Presidential front-runner has added to his list of hard-line statement in the run-up to the January 9th election. Abbas says if elected, he will not disarm the terrorists as stipulated in the Roadmap peace proposal and as demanded by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Mahmoud Abbas continues to talk tough in the Palestinian election campaign. Is he paying lip-service to the terrorists in order to get elected, or is he following in the footsteps of Yasser Arafat?

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December 29, 2004

SHARON IN TROUBLE

The government crisis has deepened over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s moves to pass the new state budget. After two far right parties bolted the coalition in protest over Sharon’s ‘Gaza+4’ withdrawal plan in Knesset, Sharon has made a budget payoff to the ultra-orthodox United Torah Judaism Party and possibly the NRP for their support in passing the budget this Wednesday. However, in response, the coalition party Shinui warns it will now vote against the budget; if it does Sharon will fire Shinui from the coalition. The government crisis worsens day by day.

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December 28, 2004

U.S. SENATORS

U.S. Senator Mark Dayton: ‘We've Got To Bring The Iranians To Recognize Their Responsibility For Nuclear Sanity’

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December 27, 2004

MORE SHARON 'DOS AND DON'TS'

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.

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December 27, 2004

FLASH - SHARON!

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has warned he will order the IDF to hit back with massive fire-power, if Palestinians attack Israeli civilians evacuating the Gaza Strip next summer. Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Sharon made clear he would not tolerate mortar, rocket or any other type of attack on the Israeli families he is ordering to pull out. The Prime Minister made clear that the Israeli military will be prepared to do whatever it takes to stop any Palestinian assault during the pullback from all of the settlements in Gaza and four more on the West Bank. However, right wing critics still contend that Sharon is now restraining the IDF in the face of continuing Palestinian mortar and Qassam rocket attacks. Committee Chairman Yuval Steinitz of the Likud, later described the Prime Minister’s warning in the closed door hearing:

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December 23, 2004

TONY BLAIR’S ‘LONDON BRIDGE’ ARIEL SHARON’S ‘EVERYTHING AND SEQUENCE’

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.

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December 22, 2004

COTLER IN JERUSALEM

Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler is now on a whirlwind tour of Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The former law professor, who is Jewish, is well known in the region; many top justice officials throughout the Middle East were his students at MaGill University in Montreal. Cotler is the first cabinet minister of the new Canadian government to visit the Middle East and he is bringing a message that Ottawa is ready to contribute in the quest for peace between Israel and a Palestinian state.

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December 22, 2004

BLAIR & SHARON

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem and acting Palestinian leader Muhmoud Abbas in Ramallah before the Palestinian Presidential election on January 9th. Both Sharon and Blair appeared to see eye to eye on the need for an end to Palestinian terrorism and also that Israel’s upcoming withdrawal was not intended to be Jerusalem’s last word. The British Prime Minister stressed that the upcoming London conference would prepare the groundwork for the Palestinians and Israel to start negotiating the Roadmap peace proposal after the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements by the end of 2005. Blair concurred with Sharon’s decision not to attend the conference, which is designed to discuss Palestinian reforms and foreign aid. Here are extensive excerpts from the joint news conference starting first with Blair’s comments on the London meeting:

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December 21, 2004

IDF BRIEFING

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.

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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

SHARON'S VISION

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.

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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 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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