Friday, November 30, 2007

Olmert lying about Temple Mount

Aaron Klein

Israeli PM claims holy site not up for talks, but Palestinians say he has already agreed to forfeiture . AnPrime Minister Ehud Olmert's statements on Wednesday that Israel's sovereignty over the Temple Mount is not up for negotiation are "false," according to a chief Palestinian negotiator, who told WND the Israeli leader already agreed to forfeit Judaism's holiest site to a coalition of Arab countries.

"What Olmert said (regarding the Mount) is absolutely false. I think he's not yet ready to tell the Israeli public and is waiting for the right time and he fears his coalition with religious extremists will fall apart if he announces it now," said a senior Palestinian negotiator Thursady on condition his name be withheld.

The chief Palestinian negotiator said in months leading up to Annapolis the Palestinian team was "surprised" by Olmert's willingness to give up the Mount.

"We had intense debates on many topics, which remain open and unsettled, but the Harem Al-Sharif (Temple Mount) is not a sticking point. The Israelis didn't argue with us. We were pleasantly surprised Olmert didn't debate about giving the lower section of the Mount either, which was a sticking point in the past."

According to the chief Palestinian negotiator, Olmert agreed to evacuate the Mount but not to turn it over to the Palestinians alone. The negotiator said both sides agreed the Temple Mount would be given to joint Egypt, Jordan and Palestinian Authority control.

He said the Israeli government felt an umbrella group of several Arab countries controlling the holy site instead of only the PA would help ease Israeli domestic opposition to giving up the Temple Mount, since Egypt and Jordan are considered by Israeli policy to be moderate countries.

'Talks will address all issues'
The Palestinian negotiator pointed out Israeli prime ministers previously denied withdrawal plans only to later carry them out. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, elected on a platform against evacuating territory, denied for his first year in office he would retreat from the Gaza Strip but in 2005 he carried out a Gaza withdrawal.

In a briefing to reporters yesterday, Olmert claimed Israel's sovereignty over the Temple Mount is not up for discussion. He said negotiations started at this week's Annapolis summit had no bearing on the situation on the Temple Mount.

At the start of Tuesday's summit, President Bush read a joint declaration agreed to by Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas committing the two to launch immediate negotiations aimed at "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side."

The parties said they would aim to conclude an agreement before Bush leaves office next year, with Israel widely expected to evacuate large swaths of the West Bank and speculation about eastern sections of Jerusalem, handing Abbas the strategic territories. Israel recaptured the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, in 1967.

"The negotiations will address all of the issues which we have thus far avoided dealing with," said Olmert on Tuesday. "I am convinced that the reality that emerged in our region in 1967 will change significantly. I know this. Many of my people know this. We are prepared for it."

Reprinted by permission of


UN giving Palestinians fictitious sense of reality

'Arab refusal to recognize the existence of our Jewish state has been at the core of the Palestinians’ inability to achieve a state of their own,' Israeli ambassador to United Nations tells General Assembly members during discussion titled 'International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People'
. NEW YORK – The United Nations General Assembly conducted a discussion Thursday marking 60 years since the vote ending the British mandate and establishing in its stead two states- one Jewish, the other Arab. Nevertheless, instead of celebrating the event, Arab states continued to force on fellow member nations an annual discussion under the title "the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People."

The discussion has taken place every year since 1967 and is organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and attended by the Palestinian's permanent observer at the UN. Israel's ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman boycotted the discussion in protest for two years due to the event's one-sidedness, but this year he decided to change his stance and participate.

"The air in Annapolis was filled with the hope that by working together we can realize a peaceful and better tomorrow. I have no doubt that this sense of optimism was felt by all those in attendance. Yet, back here in New York, standing before this august Assembly – in a place so distant from Annapolis in body, mind, and soul – I cannot help but wonder whether today’s debate will contribute to the promise of Annapolis," Gillerman told Assembly members.

Click here to view special page on UN's vote on Partition Plan

"After all, this Assembly hall is also the birthplace of the annual 21 resolutions defaming Israel – with a litany of predetermined, impractical, and completely biased conclusions – that have only given the Palestinians a fictitious sense of reality and a discourse of rights without responsibilities, both of which render the United Nations completely incapable of playing a meaningful role in addressing the conflict.

"It is all the more bewildering that of late the Jewish character of the State of Israel has been called into question. Last week, as Israelis and Palestinians set out for Annapolis, a veteran Palestinian negotiator said “the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel’s Jewish identity," he said.

The Israeli ambassador continued to say that "the resolution that gives the 29th of November significance – General Assembly resolution 181 – speaks of the creation of the 'Jewish State' no less than 25 times. Even before that, the notion of a Jewish state in the land of Israel was cemented in the 1922 League of Nations British Mandate on Palestine, which put into effect the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to establish a national home for the Jewish people.

'Arabs made a fatal choice'
"The Arab refusal to recognize the existence of our Jewish state has been at the core of the Palestinians’ inability to achieve a state of their own. When the Jews accepted the UN partition plan, the Arabs made a fateful – and indeed fatal – choice to reject it and invade the newly borne Jewish state, rather than coexist with it," he told the General Assembly.

According to Gillerman, "had the Arabs accepted the UN’s decision, there would have been two states, one Jewish and one Arab, all this time, for the past 60 years."

The envoy added that he "hopes the winds of Annapolis will blow to the north, to this very hall. For there could be no better time for the nations of the world – and in particular the moderate Arab and Muslim states in this hall today – to show their commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian process.

"And there could be no better place than here at the United Nations –where for decades Israel has been discriminated against and singled out, contrary to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter – for Members States to tell Israel and the Palestinians that they support our dialogue," he said.


Envoy to press Israel to take risks'

Theater of the absurd opens Act One:

Predicting potentially grave security consequences for Israel, defense officials responded pessimistically Thursday to news that former NATO commander and retired US general James Jones had been tapped by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the new special envoy to coordinate security between Israel and the Palestinians A senior defense official involved in talks with the Palestinians said that Jones was likely to invest most of his efforts in pressuring Israel to concede to the Palestinians and taking risks on issues of security.

"Another envoy is not what is needed now," the official said. "Both sides know what needs to be done, the problem is that due to everything else that is going on - including Hamas's control over Gaza and the current coalition in Israel - things are stuck."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the job involves monitoring the development of Palestinian security services. One focus would be how those forces interact with neighboring security services, including Israeli authorities.

McCormack said that Jones would work together with Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton who has for two years been working as the US security coordinator to the region. Israeli officials recently told The Jerusalem Post that they had been planning to ask the US to switch Dayton since a more "dominant figure" is needed in the position.

But officials warned Thursday that Jones's appointment could actually be detrimental for Israel since the general, whom they said is known for having a cold attitude towards Israel, would put pressure on the IDF to prematurely compromise on security issues at a time that the Palestinian security forces are not yet prepared to crack down on terror - as they are expected to under the Road Map.

The US-backed road map quickly foundered after it was presented in 2003 because the Palestinians did not rein in terror groups and Israel did not freeze construction in West Bank settlements, as they had both pledged to do. Bringing Jones in to closely follow the process is designed to assure that newly resumed peace talks don't languish because promises are broken.

The defense officials also pointed to the escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip, where the IDF killed over 20 Palestinian terrorists this past week, including 6 on Thursday, who were killed in two airstrikes in southern Gaza. During the past week, Palestinians fired over 70 mortar shells and over 25 Kassam rockets at Israeli communities in the Western Negev.

One of the airstrikes on Thursday was on a group of terrorists spotted laying an explosive device near the border fence. The other strike was on a Hamas position in Khan Younis and came in response to mortar fire against a nearby Israeli community the day before.

"There are growing chances for a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, and if that happens Jones's work will not be needed here," another official predicted.

Another defense official predicted that Jones will not be willing to "get his hands dirty" with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since he does not want to get burned and spoil has political aspirations back in the US.

Jones, who ended his 40-year career in the Marines last February, will remain in his current job as president of the US Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Energy. Last summer he headed a congressionally chartered panel that studied the readiness of Iraq's army and police.

As disappointing as Israel was with Dayton, the official said that the general was at least willing to enter the fray and worked hard to come up with innovative ideas to rehabilitate the PA security forces.

"Even though he failed, Dayton at least tried," the official said. "It is not clear that Jones will make such an effort so as not to ruin his chances of making a political career in the future." AP contributed to the report.

Comment: Israel's security, Israelis safety be damned-this was and is only about politics-this article speaks volumes-get some courage Olmert et al and USA "friends of Israel" show some spunk and tell the USA government how absurd this suggestion is!!.

Exclusive: 'Fatah, Hamas will join ranks if IDF raids Gaza'

Khaled Abu Toameh


Fatah will fight alongside Hamas if and when the IDF launches a military operation in the Gaza Strip, a senior Fatah official in Gaza City said Thursday.
. "Fatah won't remain idle in the face of an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip," the official said. "We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israeli army. It's our duty to defend our people against the occupiers."

The Fatah official said his faction would place political differences aside and form a joint front against Israel if the IDF enters the Gaza Strip. "The homeland is more important than all our differences," he said.

The statements came amid reports that some Arab countries were planning to resume mediation efforts between Fatah and Hamas to avoid further deterioration in the aftermath of the Annapolis peace conference.

According to the reports, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have decided to invite representatives of Fatah and Hamas for talks on ways of ending their power struggle.

A senior Palestinian official who visited Cairo this week said the Egyptians and Saudis have reached the conclusion that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won't be able to move forward with the peace talks with Israel without solving his problems with Hamas.

The official said Abbas had given his blessing to Cairo and Riyadh to resume their efforts to end the crisis with Hamas.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak phoned Abbas Thursday and discussed with him the results of the Annapolis conference and the possibility of resuming negotiations between Fatah and Hamas. Abbas is currently on a visit to Tunisia, where he is expected to brief veteran PLO officials on the outcome of the conference.

Earlier this week, the Egyptian government gave permission to several pro-Palestinian organizations in Egypt to send truckloads of food and medicine to the Gaza Strip. The trucks are scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip on Friday through the Rafah border crossing, which remains closed to travelers.

Hamas, meanwhile, is bracing for a massive IDF operation to halt the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip.

Sources in the Gaza Strip said Hamas's security forces have been placed on full alert and most of the movement's senior leaders have gone into hiding for fear of being targeted by Israel. In addition, Hamas has evacuated many of its security and civil institutions.

Hamas leaders on Thursday tried to establish a link between the Annapolis conference and a potential IDF attack on the Gaza Strip. They said the latest escalation, which claimed the lives of some 20 Hamas members over the past week, was directly linked to the conference.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said Israel was stepping up its military operations in the Gaza Strip to cover up for the "failure" of the Annapolis conference. He said the thousands of Palestinians who demonstrated against the conference over the past few days in the West Bank indicated that a majority of the public were opposed to Annapolis.

Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri said the killing of six Hamas activists over the past 48 hours was one of the direct results of the Annapolis conference.

"The Annapolis conference has failed," he said. "This conference was nothing but an attempt to impose the American and Israeli agenda on the Palestinians. The conference also gave a green light to Israel to launch a big military operation in the Gaza Strip."


YED: The Conspiracy to Divide Jerusalem

Dr. Michael D. Evans

The Annapolis Peace Summit
Annapolis, Maryland

In the pre-dawn hours, my car winds its way down the streets of this historic city toward the Naval Academy and the Annapolis Summit. Precious fathers, mothers and grandmothers shiver in the cold darkness of the morning.
Some of the men blow shofars and pray openly. Most hold signs printed with their pleas: “Don’t touch Jerusalem,” “Don’t touch the Bible land,” “Don’t touch prophecy.”

Unbidden tears slide down my cheeks for I sense how desperate and hopeless they must feel. These who love Jerusalem are overshadowed by the high and mighty of the world: President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and foreign ministers from many Arab states. Among those are known terrorists who are being treated as honored diplomats.

This is the first international peace conference since the U.S. organized-Madrid Peace Summit at the end of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. It was during that debacle that I openly challenged former Secretary of State James Baker over Jerusalem. The names change, but the desire to offer up Jerusalem as the sacrifice to appease terrorists is as passionate as ever.

The Madrid Summit destroyed the economy of Israel. It caused the overthrow of the government as literally tens of thousands of Russian Jewish immigrants were forced to sleep in tents. Why? The U.S. froze $10 billion in loan guarantees that would have provided housing for these destitute men, women and children. Israel was ultimately forced to give up more than 80 villages and towns, i.e., Jericho, Hebron, and Bethlehem.

Today, the vultures gather again, sensing that more of the City of David will be laid on the altar of sacrifice. President Bush has agreed in what is being called “The Final Status Plan” to divide Jerusalem before the end of his term in 2008. He has also demanded that Israel halt construction in the settlements for refugees. The plan is to turn those settlements over to the PLO.

The Saudis, of course, want the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to be able to move into Israel, not into the Palestinian Authority land holdings. The plan calls for Palestine to be a state within one year, with East Jerusalem as the capital. This “Final Status Plan” calls for vigorous, unceasing, aggressive negotiations that would end in the creation of a two-state region by the end of 2008.

It seems that the participants of the summit are trying to breathe life back into the Road Map plan introduced in 2003. When Mahmoud Abbas refused to implement the very first clause of the plan – to disarm the terrorist organizations – the plan died in utero.

The Saudis, of course, were overjoyed to hear President Bush’s comments during the Summit. The Road Map, an invention of Saudi Arabia and the Arab League was designed to force Israel to the bargaining table. Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon related to me that he had asked for 14 amendments. Secretary of State Colin Powell flatly refused to include any of Sharon’s amendments. Phase Two of the plan as outlined was the dismantling of all terror organizations and their infrastructure. HAMAS, Islamic Jihad, al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade to name a few would have been forced to turn over all illegal weapons and stop terror incitement.

Needless to say, Phase Two was not implemented by Abbas. Quite the opposite occurred: HAMAS took over Gaza; Abbas’ own terror organization, Fatah and al-Aksa martyrs Brigade continue to kill Jews. (The latest murder was that of a 29-year old father of two from the village of Shavei Shomron, just days before the Summit in Annapolis.)

The acceptance of this vile plan would turn Israel into a living hell. The Jewish people would be forced to live next door to a state controlled by Islamic fanatics such as Hamas. I am reminded over and over of the scripture in Psalm 83:2-5: For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You...”

I stand here now with this document in my hand – this “Agreement of Joint Understanding” to which both parties have pledged acceptance. This document, if followed, will result in the division of Jerusalem. I’ve asked myself how the U.S. government could partner with a terror organization responsible for thousands of terror attacks worldwide. How could President Bush cavalierly shake hands with the man responsible for the Munich massacre?

Is George W. Bush so consumed by his legacy that he would sacrifice Jerusalem and hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews to attain his goal? Israel would have to give up the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in East Jerusalem; evacuate most of the strategic West Bank which would leave it vulnerable to rocket attacks in Tel Aviv and at its international airport.

What does the future hold for Israel? President Bush has indicated that Israel had “painful compromises” to make during the negotiations that were to begin immediately. I can tell you that Israel seemed very alone during the Annapolis Summit. It greatly concerns me. Why? President Clinton attempted to divide Jerusalem in January 2001, before the end of his term of office. He almost succeeded. I believe those negotiations and Arafat’s subsequent rejection of Clinton’s offer led directly to the events of 9/11.

Now, President Bush is attempting to follow in Bill Clinton’s footsteps. I, for one, am appalled to have to admit that President Bush believes the Palestinian cause is the root of Islamic hatred for America. His advisors are likely telling him that this agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will affect his legacy in a most positive way. How wrong can they possibly be? Only time will tell.

Can the Palestinian crisis be resolved? YES!

I believe that the first action that must be taken is a rehabilitation package calling for the dismantling of the 59 U.N.-maintained refugee camps. The Arab world needs to provide resettlement, employment and housing for the refugees. This would be similar to what happened to the Jewish refugees throughout Europe and the Arab world in 1948. Secondly, I would do everything to help Jordan grant citizenship to Arabs in the West bank. I believe that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan should serve as their representative body. Jordan granted citizenship status to West Bank Palestinians until the late 1980s. The Palestinians do not need more land; they need a life free of Islamic kindergarten camps that continue to instill hatred for the Jews into children at an early age.


A point of view after reading a post

Way back in 1996,when BB was on his way to Wye plantation he called Jerusalem Mayor, Ehud Olmert and asked his advice. Olmert responded that if BB believed the Arabs then give them what they wanted (more or less) but if he dis not believe the Arabs that give them nothing. Not only is Olmert an apparent Believer in his Arabs so are all of the proponents of the various plans outline in the posting above.

I know the Arabs, I live along side of them , I have employed them socialized with some of them and fought and killed some of them. No Arab Israeli or WB, Golan or Gaza Arab wants us here. Every Israeli Arab citizen has his first loyalty to his Hamula (clan) the the General Arab cultural family and last to the political state. There allegiance to the Political Jewish states begins and ends with how much they can take from her without giving anything in return. Till now all Israeli Govts. has pushed the Problem with Israeli citizen Arabs under the table and have and are still paying them to keep a quiet low profile.70% of all crime in Israel comes from The Arab sector, Countless local Arab terrorist attempts have been thwarted, by security services. A high proportion of all suicide acts by external Arabs were aided by Israeli Arabs. When Saddams rockets were falling on greater TelAviv, our noble good trustworth Arab citizens sat on their rooftos cheering ea, hit and encouraging even more. They would pass out sweets in the streets to all passerby s, They did the same in 06 when rockets from Lebanon hit all areas in the North even when and after one killed small child of one of our upstanding Arab citizens, who condemned and blamed Israel . then there were the riots of 2002, and just 2 months again in a Northern town.

The Political objective of the Arabs is to force Israel if possible to a bi national state and in lieu of that autonomy for large consentratios in the Galalli and the Negev. This would give the if they accept offers of a state im WB and Gaza 2 and a half Pali Arab States Jordan, WestBank and Gaza and Autonomous regions in Israel.

Thirty three (33%) of all children under the age of 12 in Israel are Arab citizens. How would the Great Democracies of the West react with Demographics that would give Latinos, or Indians from India and Pakistan , getting near majority in their respective countries. Would they then be so self righteous in condemning Israel?

With thirty plus % of the Knesset the Arabs could control all major votes and laws if they voted as a block.

All of this in the name of Democracy, Human rights and stupidity and blindness to the fools who proffer Human rights at their own expense!



Comment: The battle begins to heat up-it will get warmer!.

Israel will annex Judea and Samaria and remain Jewish

Ted Belman

After the Annapolis fiasco, Olmert said,

“If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights [assuming that the Palestinians in the territories will petition peacefully to be citizens of Israel, taking on the obligations of Israeli citizenship], then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished, “The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us, because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”

He is wrong on both counts.

According to the authoritative AIDRG, if Israel were to annex Judea and Samaria, Jews would outnumber Arabs for the foreseeable future (25 years) by a ratio of 2:1.

Because of its findings, I came to the conclusion in Israel From the Med to the Jordan, that it is better for Israel to annex Judea and Samaria than to retreat from it. Dr Mike Wise, who authored the One (Jewish) State Plan and who is the driving force behind AIDRG, agrees. Many times I have discussed with Mike how to go about doing this.

Olmert worries that in the absence of a two state solution, there would be a clamor for a one state solution as described and forecasted by Tony Judt in a NY Times Op-Ed, Its a lobby, not a Conspiracy, in the Spring of ‘06, and commented on by Jerry Gordon in Tony Judt Debates Israel’s Future

“The true alternative facing the Middle East in coming years will be between an ethnically cleansed Greater Israel and a single, integrated bi-national state of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. That is indeed how the hard liners in Sharon’s cabinet-see the choice; and that is why they anticipate the removal of the Arabs as the ineluctable condition for the survival of a Jewish state. ’
There is no question that that is what Israel will have to resist in the wake of the two-state solution being abandonned. It will need a plan of its own and that is what Mike Wise and others are working on.

AIDRG is moving from research and analysis to political action. This entails the preparation of a constitution which meets democratic standards, before annexing Judea and Samaria.

There is no doubt that such a constitution would be supported by the West. But the West would never endorse such a move without addressing the “right of return.” This Plan would not permit the return of refugees to the expanded Israel. Thus the Arab states would have to absorb them. The Arab States, Fatah and Hamas would reject such a plan because it would be wiping Palestine off the map rather than other way around. Thus, if the Arabs reject it, so will the west.

So one must ask why make a constitution like this if it doesn’t end the rejection?

AIDRG says that such a constitution is the only kind of constitution that will allow Israel and Jews to hold theirs heads up high and will ultimately lay the groundwork for making the Arabs good citizens of Jewish Israel.

For my part, I argue that Jews for the most part have no problem with equality for all its citizens and wouldn’t have it any other way. But they don’t want to live with the Arabs and prefer them to be out of sight and mind. It is bad enough that 20% of the current Israel population is Arab and to a large extent, anti-Israel, but to contemplate increasing that to 33% would be rejected outright by them.

AIDRG holds otherwise. They believe that most Arabs want to live peacefully within Israel even if it was Jewish. He points to Jerusalem as a laboratory. For decades now, Arabs represent one third of the population and both communities have lived in peace.

If you believe that keeping all the land is not worth absorbing the Arabs living there, perhaps you also favour, as Lieberman does, forfeiting the Arab triangle in Israel to the emerging state.
The choice is very simple. More land, more Arab citizens. Less land, less Arab citizens.

In other words, is Israel more secure with less land and a higher proportion of Jews or more land and a lower proportion of Jews. Two years ago I asked, Is Israel’s greatest threat, demographics or indefensible borders?

Today the choice is not ours to make. Today we must stay in J and S for security reasons. The only question is whether we should try to maintain the status quo or whether we should annex the land and get on with a made in Israel solution.

While Michael Wise believes that we can live with this ratio others like Jerusalem Summit and Aryeh Eldad disagree. .

They want to pay the Arabs in Judea and Samaria to leave voluntarily. Martin Sherman of Jerusalem Summit recently wrote to me to bring my attention the position paper A New Paradigm for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict : From the Political to the Humanitarian.

It concludes,

1. The establishment of a Palestinian State must be removed from the international agenda.

2. However, removing the issue of a Palestinian state from the international agenda will not eliminate the humanitarian predicament of Palestinians residing in Israeli-administered areas.

3. This is clearly an issue that must be addressed and resolved. But it must be addressed not in political terms but in humanitarian ones.

4. Thus, to successfully resolve the Palestinian problem, the Political Paradigm must be replaced by a Humanitarian Paradigm. This, however can only be done if the current Palestinian narrative, which fuels the Political Paradigm, is de-legitimized.

5. Thus, the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative becomes a vital prerequisite to any comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue.

Notice that it doesn’t even entertain a solution whereby the Palestinians remain. Simply put; no Palestine in Israel, no Palestinians in Israel.

Benny Elon published the The Right Road to Peace otherwise known as the Elon Plan in which he adds another idea namely that a solution should be crafted between Jordan and Israel as follows;

Israel, the United States and the international community will recognize the Kingdom of Jordan as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Jordan will once again recognize itself as the Palestinian nation-state.

Israeli sovereignty will be asserted over Judea, Samaria and Gaza (the West Bank). The Arab residents of these areas will become citizens of the Palestinian state in Jordan. The status of these citizens, their connection to the two states and the manner of administration of their communal lives will be decided in an agreement between the governments of Israel and Jordan (Palestine). Israeli sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza

Benny Elon calls it “the completion of the exchange of populations that began in 1948″.

What Elon is suggesting both complicates and simplifies the solution at the same time. The Jerusalem Summit doesn’t depend on Jordan’s agreement and participation and is harder to effect. Some Arabs will remain. Elon’s Plan goes nowhere without the agreement of Jordan and the US. But with that agreement it makes the whole process easier except that the Arabs remain in place. This in itself, though no threat to Israel’s democracy, could well be a threat to its security.

As for the constitution, it must define Israel as a Jewish state regardless if there is no western norm for doing so. Paul Eidelberg, a constitutional expert, has put forward such a constitution. With the population issued resolved, the constitutional drafting is much easier.

More on this later.


Arabs Return From Talks Uneasy and Skeptical

CAIRO, Egypt — This week's Middle East conference in Annapolis, Md., has highlighted Arab unease over the ability and will of a weak American president to deliver peace and fears that Israel has scored a p.r. coup while refusing to concede on such core issues as the status of Palestinian Arab refugees and the fate of Jerusalem. Arab nations, most notably Syria and Saudi Arabia, had been reluctant to attend the American-sponsored talks, which set the framework for future Israeli-Palestinian Arab negotiations. Now, with their prestige on the line, Arab officials are returning to their capitals with two tasks: convincing their populations that the summit was a crucial step toward a Palestinian Arab state and keeping pressure on America and Israel to deliver progress.

It is a politically risky situation marked by skepticism and mistrust as well as occasional resolve. Arabs were encouraged that the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict was, at least temporarily, moved to center stage. But turmoil in Lebanon, war in Iraq, and a rising Iran have complicated Middle East politics beyond the nuances of what unfolds between Prime Minister Olmert and the moderate Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. Such instabilities, however, are often inextricably linked to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Arab capitals worry that if Mr. Abbas is perceived to have gained little from Annapolis, it will strengthen Iranian-backed militant groups, such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. One of the major reasons Sunni Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, agreed to participate in the summit was to counter Iran's political involvement across the region, including its alliance with Syria and influence in Iraq.

"Stagnation in the peace process has increased the appeal for extremist ideologies. Feelings of despair and frustration have reached a dangerously high level," the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said. "It is time to bring this conflict to an end and to enable the people of the region to divert their energies from war and destruction to peace and development."

State-controlled Iranian press seized on the Annapolis conference to assert that neither an Israeli-Palestinian Arab peace nor a wider Middle East calm were possible without the blessing of Tehran, which Washington did not invite to the summit.


Bedouin Darkness Spreads With Oil Money


Do American institutions want to snuggle up with Saudi Arabia and its Dark Age values?. They had better think this one through as a tidal wave of money from Saudi Arabia — as well as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait — is crashing into these shores and buying up American assets.

They should expect no free lunches. These failed governments are buying America's silence and its implied acquiescence to barbaric.

First, the numbers:

• The United Arab Emirates, a tiny enclave of a half million natives and no rule of law has purchased significant chunks of American banks (including Citibank), ports, and airport facilities.

• Kuwait, the country we saved from Saddam's clutch, is deploying a war chest of $300 billion as its Neanderthal Parliament strives to reinstate flogging and decapitation and to annul the recently granted right of women to vote.

• Qatar, the proprietor of the anti-Semitic, anti-American Al-Jazeera network, is piling up $300 billion, buying stakes in Europe's third-largest stock market, the London Stock Exchange, and pumping money into Carnegie Mellon, Cornell Medical College, Texas A&M, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

• And the mother of Islamofascism, Saudi Arabia, where 200 senior royals of the ruling family are playing with several billion each and buying up stakes in strategic companies such as Disney and Apple, and Citibank, too, and using the rest of the oil bonanza to fund madrassas, militant mosques, and theological institutes across America and Europe.

The money-seduction tactic has worked in Britain well over the past three decades, transforming whole segments of the British Muslim population into Wahhabi militants, amply evidenced by recent subway bombings as well as the number of women in burkas strolling through the streets of London. The purchase of the British government's silence was dramatically evident in Prime Minister Blair's decision to shut down an investigation into allegedly huge bribes paid to the Saudi royal family.

As I said, expect no free lunches. To be sure, this country's economy benefits immensely from foreign investments. And in the past half century, the biggest have been from Europe, Canada, Britain, Japan, and Australia — which all share the fundamental value of civility. A flood of money from fascist societies is a different ball game.

In the past few weeks alone, several examples demonstrate the values that the empires of darkness are forcing us to swallow.

The second- and third-period classes in Saudi Arabian schools were suspended this Tuesday "in solidarity with Palestinian brotherly people." In directives to 5 million students, the Saudi deputy education minister, Mohammad al-Roweishad, told them to spend their liberated 90 minutes writing about Saudi Arabia's fight against Zionism "on behalf of Palestinian Arabs." In a country where preachers routinely refer to Christians and Jews as monkeys and pigs, it takes little imagination to figure out what is in those essays. A French teenager, the son of a French hotel manager in Dubai, was abducted by three Emirati men, raped, and dumped in the desert outside of Dubai. Police and the medical authorities responded to his parents' protest by threatening to jail the boy as a homosexual, until President Sarkozy of France personally interfered to demand a real investigation. In the glare of world publicity, Western apologists explained that Bedouin traditions in these closed all-male societies do not regard pedophilia as a crime and that teenage white males are a kind of fair game. Indeed, it is a matter of record that countless members of domestic staff, male and female, are routinely raped in Arabian homes and deported or jailed when they complain.

In a now world-famous case, a 19-year-old Saudi Arabian woman and her boyfriend were pounced upon in a car and both raped by seven men. The Saudi so-called justice system condemned her to 90 lashes. When her lawyer protested this barbaric sentence, he was disbarred and her sentence augmented to 200 lashes.

Sadly, while the American press and civil establishment revolted, the White House, Congress, and, above all, our business establishment looked away, suggesting how heavy a price is exacted for a Bedouin greenback.

We often mouth off the word "failed society" without fully comprehending that in the Arabian Gulf, the term refers to a veritable kingdom of darkness for women, men, children, and minorities.

The huge migration of money that has followed Western capitalist systems has brought progress and modernity in its wake. But Arabian oil money imported by Citibank and other titans of American industry deeply compromises our values and buys our silence.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Only 17% of Israelis See Annapolis as "Success"

A poll commissioned by a leading Israeli newspaper suggests that only 17 percent of the nation sees the Annapolis peace summits as a "success,” while 42% called it a "failure.". The poll was taken on Wednesday, the day after the Maryland conference. The results stand in stark contrast to a poll conducted on the eve of the summit that showed a strong majority of Israelis supporting U.S. President George W. Bush's initiative. A 53% majority of the nation supports the goals of the conference: a two-state solution with resolution of what are termed the "core" issues – Jerusalem, borders and right of return of Palestinian refugees. A poll of Israeli Arabs reveals that an overwhelming majority says that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud 'Abbas lacks the authority to negotiate with Israel on their behalf. The poll was conducted during the Annapolis conference. Eighty-one percent said the P.A. negotiators have no right to make concessions on the status of Jerusalem and almost as many insist that the negotiators have no right to make concessions on the "right of return."


Peace talks have failed in the past because one side wanted peace and the other side wanted Israel.”

Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) said, “Middle East negotiations should proceed with caution . . . While all Americans hope for a lasting peace in the region, the American people cherish our ally Israel and the security of Israel must come first…. The Annapolis Summit saga continues based on 5 misconceptions….

That Palestinian society can be reformed by outsiders

That economic assistance to the Palestinians can alleviate political problems

That Mahmoud Abbas can become the agent for change and therefore he deserves the support of the West

That Palestinian society can be quickly transformed into a good neighbor of Israel and that a stable settlement is within reach

That Hamas control of Gaza can be uprooted by inter-Palestinian politics.

The true problem lies where?

Arlene Kushner

Remember Livni's statements regarding how the Arabs were coming to Annapolis to support the process, which involved safeguarding Israel's security? It was ridiculous on the face of it, but look how it played out: the Saudi foreign minister not only refused to shake hands with Olmert, he also insisted that the Saudis enter by a different door from the Israelis. What is more, of the representatives of 15 members of the Arab League with whom Livni hoped to have some contact, only Jordan, which has a full treaty with us, was willing.

The Arab states attending were Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Additionally the Muslim states of Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia were present.

Dutch European Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans made the observation that they "shun her like she is Count Dracula's younger sister."

Clearly, there is no warming of attitude, no willingness yet to embrace Israel as part of the Middle East. This is where the true problem lies...span>

No Hopes For Us


If we hear of Eastern Chad at all, it is as a spillover of the genocidal
slaughter in Darfur.. But this swath of land along Darfur¹s border has become
a full-scale catastrophe in its own right, and it is without the immense and
effective humanitarian infrastructure which is sustaining millions of lives
in Darfur.

When I first came here in November 2006, I met Abdullah Idris Zaid, who was
lying in the tiny Goz Beida hospital. It was a terrible month in eastern
Chad. The Janjaweed, Darfur¹s government-backed Arab militias, joined with
Chadian Arab tribes on a rampage of destruction; 60 villages were burned and
scores of people were killed, raped, and mutilated. Mr. Zaid¹s eyes were
gouged out by Janjaweed knives.

This month I found him in the Gouroukoum camp for displaced people. He is 27
years old, a husband and a father. His 4-year old daughter Boushra led him
to the mat outside his hut and gently placed a cup of water in his hands. He
told me that this is the third place they have sought refuge, and still he
does not feel safe.

³They will come again,² said Mr. Zaid. ³They said, Œwe do not want you black
people here.¹ The Janjaweed come from Sudan. If the United Nations does not
send troops into Sudan and stop them, then they will return.²

Eastern Chad has been plunged into chaos and lawlessness. In border towns,
pick-up trucks outfitted with machine guns and loaded with armed, uniformed
men careen through the dusty streets. No one knows who they are: the army,
Chadian rebels, bandits? It makes little difference to the victims of the
escalating violence. For about $5 dollars (U.S.), anyone can get a uniform
in the marketplace. As I passed through the town of Abeche, a U.N. refugee
agency guard was murdered and two staffers severely wounded. About 100
humanitarian vehicles have been highjacked in the last year; aid workers
have been robbed, beaten, abducted and killed.

Eight months ago, 40,000 Chadians had been displaced by Janjaweed attacks.
Today the number is 175,000 and rising. People have fled from their burning
villages and the fields that sustained them to squalid camps across Eastern
Chad. ³Mortality rates of children under five are double what is accepted as
the threshold for an emergency,² says Johanne Sekkenes, a Doctors Without
Borders program director. ³The situation here is massively deteriorating.
The needs are huge. Assistance has been too little, and it comes too late.²

There have been years of debate as to how the tide of violence engulfing the
region can be stemmed. Until recently, the excuse for inaction was the
steadfast resistance of the Sudanese government to U.N. peacekeeping
presence. Sudan¹s recent consent to a limited force under African Union
command comes in the wake of countless broken promises and falls far short
of what is needed. Nonetheless, it leaves the onus squarely on other
countries that have the power to contribute troops, but lack the political
will to do so.

And so the cacophony of voices continues, deliberating as to whether and how
a force should be dispatched, and who should contribute the resources and
troops. No one seems to be listening to the most important voice of all‹that
of the people of Darfur and Eastern Chad, ringing loud and clear from
refugee camps across the region.

Oumda al Fatih, is the leader of 20,000 Darfurians at Goz Amir refugee camp.
Between the camp and the Darfur border there is nothing but the ashes of
destroyed villages. ³Twice, Janjaweed from Sudan came here and attacked us,²
he told me. The refugees had fled these attackers before, but now they were
far from home. With no idea where to find water in the unfamiliar desert,
they did not even try to run. ³We sat on the ground and we held our children
and waited for two days. And we were thinking, ŒNo hopes for us. No hopes
for us.¹

³We are the ones being killed, tortured and raped. We are the ones who have
lost everything. We are refugees with no freedom, no rights, not enough
food, no fields; we are living in terror. We accept the U.N. troops. We are
asking for help.²

This is the voice of the people of Darfur and Eastern Chad. It calls
urgently for an international force with the resources and mandate necessary
to protect defenseless civilians and the aid workers who are struggling to
sustain them. These desperate pleas are what we should be hearing and
responding to‹urgently.

Ms. Farrow, a UNICEF ambassador, has just returned from her sixth trip to
Darfur and its borders with Chad and the Central African Republic.


Arab Support for Summit Meant Talks, Not Actions

Hana Levi Julian

The Arab delegates at the Annapolis conference demonstrated the difference between "talking the talk" and "walking the walk" Tuesday when it became obvious that supporting talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority didn't necessarily mean taking any other action to facilitate the process.
. Despite the summit's publicity as a show of international support for Israeli-PA negotiations, attempts by Israel to follow up the speeches with concrete action were rebuffed by Arab delegates across the board.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, head of the Israeli negotiating team, was unable to arrange meetings with the 15 Arab representatives at the conference.

The one exception was Jordanian Foreign Minister Salaheddin al-Bashir, whose country already enjoys full diplomatic relations with Israel. Livni was unable to arrange a meeting with the Egyptian delegation, despite Israel's diplomatic ties with her southern Arab neighbor.

Israeli officials interpret this as evidence that the Arab world has not changed its fundamental policy rejecting the existence of the State of Israel, and that relations with other Arab nations are not likely to warm up any time soon.

It would appear that observations by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad more accurately reflected the sentiment of Arab nations who were represented at the conference, which on Wednesday he deemed to be a "failure."

Reiterating his oft-repeated belief that Israel will cease to exist, Ahmadinejad said on Iranian state-run TV, "It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive... because it has been created on aggression, lying, oppression and crime."

Iran's Arab neighbors were also slammed by Ahmadinejad for attending the conference despite their united refusal to meet with Israeli delegates. "We are disappointed that some individuals fell victim to the sinister Zionist regime," complained Ahmadinejad. "They are mistaken if they thought that this summit would bring any achievements for them."

U.S. President George W. Bush pledged Wednesday that America will defend Israel if it is attacked by Iran, and said that he takes Ahmadinejad's threats seriously. The Iranian president has repeatedly stated that the Jewish State should be "wiped off the map."


IAF Strike Signals New Tit-for-Tat Policy

Gil Ronen

The attack on a Hamas terrorist position in Khan Yunis Wednesday afternoon which killed two was the first sign of a new IDF policy regarding Gaza terrorists. Military sources told Maariv/NRG that from now on, the IAF will attack a random Hamas target in Gaza every time a mortar shell or rocket hits an Israeli community, and will no longer limit itself to striking the terrorists who launched the rockets.

They said that the IDF has now established that Hamas is behind all of
. the terror emanating from Gaza and will thus retaliate against Hamas targets regardless of which organization takes credit for terror attacks.

After a salvo of mortar shells landed near the security fence near Nahal Oz at around 3 P.M. Wednesday, IAF aircraft retaliated by attacking a Hamas position in southern Gaza. Gaza Arabs said one of those killed in the IAF strike was Rami Abu-Rus, an active member of Hamas. At least 10 people were wounded in the mission.

For months, the IDF has been forced to comply with the government policy of limiting its retaliation to strikes against terrorists in the act of firing rockets, and immediately before or after launching them. Attacks on terrorists in the act of firing at Israeli civilians were called off if they appeared to entail a danger of hurting non-combatants. This policy caused great frustration among the victims of the Gaza terrorists, many of whom felt that the government prefers enemy civilian lives over their own.

6,288 Rockets in Six Years
Gaza terror squads fired one rocket and five mortar shells at Israeli civilians Wednesday morning. The rocket exploded in a kibbutz in the western Negev, causing no casualties. One mortar shell hit a chicken coop in an agricultural community in the area, causing some damage but no casualties. Two additional mortars were fired in the evening, exploding near the security fence and hurting no one.

The Kassam counter at the Committee for Secure Sderot website currently shows 6,288 rocket attacks from Gaza in the past six years.

Ten terrorists have been killed since Monday afternoon, most of them in Gaza. One of the terrorists died Monday of injuries sustained in an attack on IDF soldiers two weeks earlier.

Security forces are preparing for "the day after Annapolis." Some IDF experts believe that failure at the summit could lead to a long-awaited "green light" from the Israeli political leadership to launch a massive assault on Gaza.


Hamas demands UN rescind partition decision, says 'no room for Jews'

Hamas on Thursday called on the UN to rescind the 1947 decision to partition Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. The group said in a statement, released on the 60th anniversary of the UN vote, that "Palestine is Arab Islamic land, from the river to the sea, including Jerusalem… there is no room in it for the Jews."

Regarding the partition decision, Hamas said that "correcting mistakes is nothing to be ashamed of, but prolonging it is exploitation."


Stalemate in Annapolis

David Bedein

Representatives of 50 nations and hundreds of reporters from around the world converged on the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, this Tuesday to attend the much-hyped, one-day summit on the Middle East. After exhaustive security checks, the reporters were ushered into the academy’s basketball stadium.
. From that uninviting vantage point -- only an elite few reporters were allowed anywhere near the participating leaders -- the press corps watched as President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas exchanged platitudes of peace.

Although the summit was billed as the start of a new negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it felt dated from the onset. For instance, President Bush invoked the “road map” of April 30, 2003, specifically mentioning that precise date, as the guiding spirit of the negotiations. But on May 25, 2003, Israel added 14 reservations to the road map, almost all of which demanded that the Palestinian Authority take full responsibility to disarm all terror groups before proceeding with negotiations. By adverting to the April 30 proposal, Bush seemed to be ignoring the Israeli government’s demands and asking that Israel negotiate with the Palestinians, come what may.

To clarify whether this was indeed the case, this reporter asked State Department officials whether Abbas would be required to disarm and disband the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist organization that remains an integral part of the Fatah. The Al Aqsa Brigades remain on the US State Department list of terrorist organizations and continue to commit terrorism against Israel. Nonetheless, officials would not answer the question. In a similar vein, State Department officials were asked about their position concerning the Palestinian curriculum, which the Israel Ministry of Defense had concluded is rife with anti-Semitic incitement and in which Israel is erased from the map, thus denying any connection of Jews or Judaism to the land of Israel. After looking into the matter, the officials refused to take a stand on the issue.

Indeed, about the only thing that American officials would take a stand on is that negotiations must proceed apace -- even if the Palestinian side has failed to do the one thing asked of it by curbing anti-Israel terrorism. Thus President Bush set the tone for this week’s negotiations by saying that Abbas and Olmert would conduct biweekly negotiations beginning on December 12. In the case of disputes, President Bush declared, the US would be the “judge” as to whom was correct. But considering that U.S. officials have pointedly declined to offer an opinion on Palestinian terrorism this week, this was not exactly reassuring.

The Palestinian side has been more forthcoming. On November 23, the Palestinian Authority’s official radio outlet, “Voice of Palestine” radio, launched a preemptive attack on Israel ahead of this week’s summit. A cleric chosen by the PA declared that one of the main “obstacles in the negotiations prior to the conference” was Israel’s request to be recognized as a Jewish state. “If this request is granted and Israel is recognized as a Jewish state there will be no withdrawal to 1967 boarders, no partition of Jerusalem and no deportation of the Israeli settlers.” In short, Palestinians could not accept Israel because to do would be to accept Israel’s right to exist. For the Palestinian leadership, such recognition -- the first step to any peace process -- is unthinkable.

Prime Minister Olmert, to his credit, stated before the summit that he would stand by the principle that Israel is a Jewish state. In response to the PA’s extremist rhetoric, he called for two states, for two peoples. But nothing at this week’s summit suggested that this vision is any closer to becoming a reality.

David Bedein is the bureau chief of the Israel Resource News Agency, located at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem. .

Olmert, Abbas vow to "confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis"

Take a president with no understanding of the jihadist intransigence that fuels the Palestinian/Israel conflict -- not quibbles over the ownership of this or that piece of land -- who is desperate to shore up his sagging legacy. Take an Israeli prime minister who seems defiantly committed to the proposition that an Israel small enough and defenseless enough will be left alone by the jihadists, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Add in a "Palestinian" leader who is threatened at home by forces even more violently intransigent than he is, and who is leader of a group that tried to assassinate that same Israeli prime minister just a few months ago -- indicating that he himself is either complicit or ineffectual.

What do you get? A peace based on the equation of jihad terrorist violence against innocent people with resistance to that violence. Not an auspicious beginning.


You know you are winning when your enemy uses nonsense logic

Robert Spencer

Ed Husain is the author of The Islamist, a book about how he entered and then left the jihadist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He recently debated Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and has now written a piece in The Guardian, "Stop supporting Bin Laden," about how Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and I are -- unwittingly, of course -- playing into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself. This is, of course, a familiar canard, and one that I have dealt with before, when Dinesh D'Souza made the same charge. The contention is that because I -- and Hirsi Ali, and Ibn Warraq, and others -- point out that there is a broad and deeply rooted tradition of violence and supremacism within Islam, therefore we are marginalizing other Islamic traditions and legitimizing bin Laden. In saying this, Husain (and D'Souza) implies that jihadism is a clear Islamic heresy, and that there is a broad tradition within Islam that rejects violence against non-Muslims and Islamic supremacism -- and that Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and I are ignoring or downplaying it out of some base motives. Bin Laden or someone like him invented jihadism and grafted it onto a religion that has otherwise peaceful teachings.

In reality, however, while there are a few courageous reformers out there, all -- not just one, or a few, but all -- the orthodox sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the Islamic community to wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law (references can be found here). There is no sect or school recognized as orthodox that rejects this. It is not playing into bin Laden's hands to point it out; in fact, it is playing into bin Laden's hands to deny it and denigrate those who point out that it is so, for there can be no reform of what one will not admit needs reforming. There are some disagreements between modern jihadism and traditional jihad theology: modern jihad is all defensive, as there is no caliph authorized to call offensive jihad, and some assert that only the state authority can call jihad in any case. But these disagreements do not touch on the central point: that it is legitimate to wage religious war. If Ed Husain wishes to pretend to the world that the situation of Islamic theology and jurisprudence is other than what it is, how sincere a reformer can he be? Wouldn't a genuine reformer acknowledge the existence of problematic passages and doctrines and formulate new ways to understand them, rather than pretending that they don't exist at all -- except in the minds of violent fanatics and those he would have you believe are merely hatemongers?

Husain's account of the debate at the Centre for Social Cohesion (before which he appeared, like Ayaan, as an invited speaker, not a representative) is revealing:

...Organised by the thinktank the Centre for Social Cohesion, and masterfully chaired by Douglas Murray, a capacity crowd of politicians, journalists, Muslims, civil servants, authors, thinktankers, publishers, police bosses, Islamists, and feminists questioned Hirsi Ali and me on issues not ordinarily raised in public. Was the Prophet Mohammad responsible for the murders committed by some of his companions? Was the prophet a military leader? Is political sovereignty for God, or humans?
Good questions. Can we get answers from this reasonable reformist? Alas, no, for the questions themselves are ignorant and hostile:

These, and other, questions stem from a deep ignorance of, and hostility towards, a complex, millennium-old Islamic tradition.
Maybe they do. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be answered. Maybe he answered them in the debate, but he certainly doesn't do so here. And since there are Muslims who say Muhammad ordered his companions to kill prisoners and to murder his opponents, and that he was a military leader, and that political sovereignty belongs to Allah, not to humans, why are non-Muslims ignorant and hostile when they ask these questions?

Just as Wahhabites and Islamists bypass scholarship, context, and history in the name of "returning to the book", Hirsi Ali and others such as Robert Spencer and Ibn Warraq commit exactly the same error. What do I mean? Let's take the question of apostasy. At an Evening Standard debate the other night, Rod Liddle had no qualms in declaring Islam, with a barrage of other baseless abuse, "a fascistic ideology". Why? Because the Qur'an commands the killing of those who abandon it. Really?
Actually, no, but read on:

Well, here are a few facts that might help the new coterie of Islam-bashers retract ill-informed statements: a) there is no verse in the Qur'an that calls for the killing of apostates;
Actually, there is no verse in the Qur'an that calls clearly and unequivocally for the killing of apostates. But Al-Shafi'i, the jurist who founded the school of Sunni jurisprudence that bears his name, held that Qur'an 2:217 called for the killing of the apostate: "And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And whoso becometh a renegade and dieth in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter." Others point to Qur'an 4:89 -- "But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them" -- as calling for the execution of apostates. The Qur'an interpreter Baydawi explained this verse this way: "Whosoever turns back from his belief (irtada), openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel."

Is it ill-informed Islam-bashing for me to quote Baydawi and al-Shafi'i in their interpretations of these Qur'an verses? I don't see why. Is it not rather disingenuous of Ed Husain to assert flatly that no verse in the Qur'an calls for the killing of apostates, without bothering to inform us that leading Islamic thinkers have said otherwise? I am all for reform and the rejection of the idea that apostates should be killed, but I seriously doubt it can be affected by denial that a problem exists rather than by confrontation of the problem.

b) the Prophet Mohammed did not kill several people who freely left Islam;
Here again, Husain doesn't mention the reason why that fact would be notable: because Muhammad himself directed that apostates be killed:

"If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him." (Bukhari 4.52.60)

"Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him." (Bukhari 9.84.57)

(Nor is it just a couple of texts in Bukhari. Muhammad's statement "Whoever changes his religion, kill him" (من بدل دينه فاقتلوه) is attested in whole or part, with some variations but no change of substance, also by Muslim, Malik's Muwatta, Ibn Hibban, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, An-Nassai, Ibn Majah, the Sunan al-Kubraa, Bayhaqi, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Ya`laa, Humaidi, Abd al-Razzaq, and Ibn Abi Shaybah.)

So did he not kill apostates on some occasions? Great. But unfortunately, he didn't direct his followers not to kill apostates. In fact, he did just the opposite. When Muhammad conquered Mecca, according to his ninth-century biographer Ibn Sa‘d, he ordered the Muslims to fight only those individuals or groups who resisted their advance into the city -- except for a list of people who were to be killed, even if they had sought sanctuary in the Ka’bah itself. One of those was Abdullah bin Sa’d, a former Muslim who at one time had been employed by Muhammad to write down the Qur’anic revelations; but he had subsequently apostatized and returned to the Quraysh. He was found and brought to Muhammad along with his brother, and pleaded with the Prophet of Islam for clemency: “Accept the allegiance of Abdullah, Apostle of Allah!” Abdullah repeated this twice, but Muhammad remained impassive. After Abdullah repeated it a third time, Muhammad accepted.

Did he thus reject the killing of apostates? Not quite. As soon as Abdullah had left, Muhammad turned to the Muslims who were in the room and asked: “Was not there a wise man among you who would stand up to him when he saw that I had withheld my hand from accepting his allegiance, and kill him?”

The companions, aghast, responded: “We did not know what you had in your heart, Apostle of Allah! Why did you not give us a signal with your eye?”

“It is not advisable,” said the Prophet of Islam, “for a Prophet to play deceptive tricks with the eyes.”

Apostasy from Islam had always been for Muhammad a supreme evil. When he was master of Medina, some livestock herders came to the city and accepted Islam. But they disliked Medina’s climate, so Muhammad gave them some camels and a shepherd; once away from Medina, the herders killed the shepherd, released the camels and renounced Islam. Muhammad had them pursued. When they were caught, he ordered that their hands and feet be amputated (in accord with Qur’an 5:33, which directs that those who cause “corruption in the land” be punished by the amputation of their hands and feet on opposite sides) and their eyes put out with heated iron bars, and that they be left in the desert to die. Their pleas for water, he ordered, must be refused. That's also in Bukhari, the Hadith collection that Muslims consider most reliable.

It stains credulity, in light of all this, for Ed Husain to give the impression that Muhammad disapproved of the murder of apostates. This kind of assertion may be comforting to non-Muslims who would prefer to believe that the notorious capital charges levied in early 2006 against the Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity, Abdul Rahman, were some sort of anomaly. Unfortunately, this claim simply does not accord with the facts of Muhammad’s life. And here again, if Ed Husain really wishes to work for reform within Islam, he can't stand before his fellow Muslims and pretend that those stories about Muhammad don't exist. They know they exist. He has to deal with them for what they are.

c) Sufyan al-Thawri, a second-generation Muslim, clearly stated that ex-Muslims should be free to exercise their will;
Great. And who is Sufyan al-Thawri? He was a renowned ascetic, but why do all the schools of Sunni jurisprudence -- Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanafi and Hanbali -- as well as the Shi'ites teach that the apostasy of a male adult merits death, if Sufyan al-Thawri's word is so authoritative? How can Muslims be persuaded to follow Sufyan al-Thawri rather than virtually all the mainstream Islamic jurists? It is easy to impress non-Muslims with a statement like this, when they don't know Sufyan al-Thawri from a hole in the ground, but unfortunately it is Muslims who today must be convinced that Islam doesn't mandate death for apostasy, and invoking Sufyan al-Thawri isn't going to accomplish that.

d) the four schools of Muslim jurisprudential thought that endorsed the killing of apostates did so on grounds of treason and sedition, not theology;
Yet another misleading point. It is true that the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence endorsed the killing of apostates because the apostate was seen as a threat to the stability of the Islamic state. But in that same Islamic jurisprudence, there is no separation between matters of state and theology, between the sacred and the secular. That is a Western, Judeo-Christian distinction. Islam has been since Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina a political and social system as well as an individual religious faith. To say that something is political rather than theological is essentially meaningless in terms of traditional Islam.

And in any case, the death penalty for apostates is based on the statements of Muhammad quoted above, and so have his prophetic seal. To say they're not theological is simply false.

e) the 1843-44 Ottoman reforms enshrined the right of Muslims to accept other religions without state punishment.
Indeed, but under heavy Western pressure, and with resistance from the Islamic clerocracy. These reforms, in other words, were not affected by Islam or from within Islam, but in spite of Islam. Here again, this is not to say that a form of Islam could develop that teaches that the apostate should not be harmed, but the Ottoman reforms did not come about because such a form of Islam had actually developed. It had not.

I could go on.
Oh, please do. And I hope it will be in a debate with me.

Hirsi Ali vociferously objects to the Prophet Mohammed being a moral guide. For me, it is his guidance, compassion, humanity, warmth, love, kindness that rescued me, and others, from Islamist extremism. He warned against religious extremism. His was a smiling face. His tomb in Medina today radiates the peace and serenity to which he was called.
These are lovely greeting-card sentiments, but they do not mitigate the force of Muhammad's statements above, or of his call to his followers to offer non-Muslims conversion, subjugation, or war. I'm glad that Ed Husain has apparently rejected such calls. How can he persuade more of his fellow Muslims to do so?

I concede that there is a problem with extremism among sections of the Muslim population - a context-vacuous literalism continues to threaten the very spirit of Islam.
"A context-vacuous literalism"? So it would appear that Ed Husain is now granting that the Qur'an and Sunnah, taken literally, mandate warfare against unbelievers. It is only by a rejection of that literalism that their force for incitement can be mitigated. If that is what he means, I am with him. But I find this rather odd after he strongly implied above that the Qur'an and Muhammad, taken literally, do not command death for apostates.

That same extremism has unleashed what is called "al-Qaida": an operation that adopts Islamism as its political ideology and Wahhabism as its theology. Mainstream Muslims have common cause with the west in defeating this hybrid beast. Just as Christian fundamentalists threaten the fibre of the Christian spirit (see Chris Hedges' recent book)
Yes, do, and see also my book responding to his hysteria about "Christian theocrats."

...Muslim extremists with petrodollars seek to impose a new, bastardised, soulless, rigid religiosity on the world's Muslims.
As with the issue of apostasy, there is, and has always been, much disagreement and debate within Islam on this and other contentious topics. It is by rediscovering the Muslim pluralist past that we will defeat literalism-based claims of exclusivity in our midst. There is no stronger argument against religious fanatics than to illustrate the scriptural weaknesses of their case.

Here again, Husain seems uncertain as to whether Islamic scripture bears out the jihadist case -- albeit in a literalistic, context-free way -- or not. If their case has scriptural weaknesses, it is odd that no school of Islamic jurisprudence has noticed them and modified its teaching on warfare against unbelievers and apostasy.

Hirsi Ali and others also frequently cite Muslim scripture to support their claims of a mythical "monolithic Islam". In my debate with Hirsi Ali, I was struck by the simple anecdotes she forwarded to illustrate her case. In Hirsi Ali, I see the same selective use of scripture as those that she opposes. Her objections to the Qur'an should also lead her to object to the Bible - after all, Leveticus has more references to stoning and burning sinners than ever found in the Qur'an. That's not to say it makes it right: it's about fairness in criticism....
Fairness in criticism? Physician, heal thyself! Leviticus may indeed talk more about stoning than the Qur'an, but in reality neither Jews nor Christians stone adulterers today, and both have evolved interpretative traditions that reject the literal application of such commands. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Islamic law is still in force, stonings are still practiced. Eight women are awaiting death by stoning in Iran today, and Iranian authorities justify this by quoting Islamic law, not the statements of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. If she is employing a "selective use of scripture," so are they, and yet Husain's ire is directed at her, not at them. In my own books I've explained at length how Islamic authorities interpret Islamic texts to justify warfare against unbelievers and other atrocities: it is not my interpretation, or Ayaan's, but theirs.

Will Ed Husain confront it as such and work in good faith for Islamic reform, or will he continue to attack those who, if he really rejects jihad and Islamic supremacism, should be his allies?

When ex-Muslims such as Hirsi Ali ignore the nuances, complexities, and plurality inherent within Islam and allow the actions of a minority of Wahhabite-Islamists to speak for a billion Muslims, then she plays into the hands of extremists and allows their discourse to dominate one of the great faiths of our world. Worse, it creates a public space in which attacking all Muslims and Islam becomes acceptable, even fashionable. Demonising Europe's second largest minority helps nobody. No good can come of ratcheting up the prejudice against them. Yes, identify and combat extremists and in that fight you will find orthodox Muslims as partners. But continue to attack with ignorance, spite and hatred our history, our prophet, our scriptures, our scholars: then you confirm the al-Qaida narrative of a war against Islam. No, there is no moral equivalence between Bin Laden's murderous worldview and his critics. But a damage is being done that may take generations to repair.
When Muslims such as Ed Husain ignore the deep scriptural, theological and legal foundations of Islamic violence and supremacism, rather than acknowledging those foundations and calling for reform and reinterpretation of those aspects of Islam, then he plays into the hands of extremists and allows their discourse to dominate one of the great faiths of our world. For it will continue to dominate as long as it goes unchallenged, and Ed Husain and others like him hinder genuine reform by attacking those who are trying to call attention to these aspects.

Then he plays the basest "Islamophobia" card, suggesting that Ayaan is creating an environment in which "attacking all Muslims and Islam becomes acceptable, even fashionable." No. If anyone is doing that, it is Ed Husain: if he really wants to end "ignorance, spite and hatred" directed at Muslims, he could start by ending his sly disingenousness, his evasions, his half-truths and finger-pointing in the face of the biggest crisis of our time.

Jordanian response:Question to answer

And so Annapolis started with wall-to-wall coverage, fanfare and words of peace and freedom. A certain sense of optimism has somehow been conveyed. Positively, the Palestinians and Israelis have agreed to sue for peace in a year. Negatively, absent a bona fide miracle, they will fail.. There are several reasons why, most stemming from unthinking US support for certain fundamental Israeli positions that will torpedo any agreement. But even instrumentally, the process we are about to witness does not differ from previous attempts which have been tried and failed miserably.

Since that does not deter the protagonists, let it not deter us. But in a year, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas resigns having only achieved a document that is clearly unacceptable and the coalition government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has fallen to pieces, we will look back and wonder why we bothered.

It will be a hard question to answer. Beyond the symbolic participation of Syria, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries without peace treaties with Israel at Annapolis, nothing has changed. The Palestinian position remains the same. The Israeli position has, if anything, hardened. Meanwhile, the US remains the least likely unbiased mediator in history.

And so the stated fears of those at Annapolis - that we are at a crossroads between the road of extremism and compromise - will be realised. But the so-called extremists need not stir themselves to action. They only have to sit and watch as yet another process falls by the wayside.

Let it not be said there is not a chance for peace now. The Arab Peace Initiative, which rightly demands a just and comprehensive peace, is exactly that opportunity. But Israel, supported by the US, has chosen to ignore that historic opportunity.

Instead, the parties are treading water. And while that is preferable to sinking, they can wave their hands as much as they like at the moment. They will be drowning soon enough.


Understanding cultural differences

In Egypt, divorce every six minutes. CAIRO - A couple files for divorce every six minutes in Egypt, with a third of marriages breaking up in the first year, the press reported on Tuesday quoting the state-run statistics bureau.

Courts across Egypt rule on 240 divorces each day, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS)

In most cases men take the initiative to file for divorce since under Muslim sharia law they are allowed to seek unrestricted legal separation from their spouses while women must face long court procedures.

In line with sharia, men do not need to go to court to file for divorce and can take up to four wives.

Egypt, home to 76 million people, now has 2.5 million divorced women.

Comment: This is sharia law-the aim of our enemies is to plae us under this cultural behavior pattern-you really want this?.

Annapolis a failure, Israel to ‘collapse’: Iran

Iranian media perspective:

TEHERAN, Iran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that the U.S.-brokered Mideast peace conference was a failure’ and that Israel is doomed to collapse,’ lashing out at the Annapolis gathering that many saw as aimed at isolating Iran..
The comments were the first time in months that the hard-line Ahmadinejad has used such strong anti-Israeli rhetoric, highlighting Teheran’s bitterness towards Tuesday’s conference, which its closest Arab ally Syria attended.

It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive. Collapse is in the nature of this regime because it has been created on aggression, lying, oppression and crime,’ Ahmadinejad said after a Cabinet meeting, according to state-run television.

Soon, even the most politically doltish individuals will understand that this conference was a failure from the beginning,’ he said, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran has repeatedly condemned the Annapolis conference, saying it would fail to bring any peace for the Palestinians and warning that it will discredit Arab countries who participated. Iran on Tuesday expresses surprise that Damascus participated in the gathering, though it has stopped short of directly criticizing its ally.

Ahmadinejad said the Palestinian resistance’ _ such as Hamas, which is backed by Teheran _ must have a say in any settlement.

Many such meetings have been held but have failed,’ he said. If decision is made about Palestine, representatives of the elected Palestinian government and resistance should be there and the rights of the Palestinian people _ self-determination, the right of voting and return of refugees _ must be recognized,’ he said.

Ahmadinejad has raised controversy in the West with past predictions of Israel’s eventual destruction, including a comment saying it should be wiped off’ or disappear’ from the map _ and even critics at home said his inflammatory speeches were needlessly provoking the West against Iran.

Comment: Always understand how your enemy spins the message-do not get caught up in your own euphoria!.

Bush won the jackpot: The American Point of View

Ron Ben-Yishai

The American Administration gambled, and won the jackpot. In every respect, the Annapolis Conference is a Bush success story and particularly a Condoleezza Rice success story. The factor attesting to Washington’s overwhelming success is the full presence, at the highest ranks, of all Mideastern countries and leading international community elements, as well as the joint declaration that the Administration managed to squeeze out of Olmert and Abbas. Bush and Condi could not hope for more than that.

On the other hand, the big loser is Syria. Bashar Assad sent a representative to Annapolis in the hopes that during the meeting participants will recognize Damascus’ interests (returning the Golan Heights and reinstating Syria’s special status in Lebanon), or at least make note of them in a respectful manner. Yet Bush, Abbas, and Olmert, whose speeches marked the core of this meeting, did not meet Syria’s expectations.

The American president did not even address the Syrian demand to discuss the Golan Heights, and added insult to injury by demanding that foreign elements refrain from interfering in Lebanon and allow its citizens to elect a president without any pressure and live in a democracy, free of threats. Abbas mentioned Syria among the countries that Israel should be reaching a deal with, but he did it as a side-note. Olmert almost completely ignored Syria, aside from an indirect allusion, when he called for peace with “all Arab states to the north and south.” This is not what Assad was hoping for when he sent his deputy foreign minister to Annapolis, thus risking a clash with his supporters in Teheran.

There is no doubt that Bush’s speech, at least media-wise, reestablished the United States’ senior status in the Middle East. He read the joint Israeli-Palestinian declaration and promised to ensure that both sides will not evade serious, ongoing negotiations and meet their duties as outline in the Road Map initiative. He also added a temptation by pledging that his country will use its economic resources and international influence in order to offer material support to the implementation of the agreement to be reached by Olmert and Abbas. Bush presented a simple equation: A state for the Palestinians in exchange for security for Israel.

Olmert has good reason to be satisfied with this speech, which did not include any hint or component that could place him in conflict with his coalition partners. Abbas too cannot complain, because the American President’s speech could not have embarrassed him in any way. The opposite is true: In Annapolis, Bush crowned him as the Palestinians’ only legitimate representative and promised to personally ensure that Israel will not waste time during talks.

Emotional pleas
Yet Bush did not make do with that: His speech included an indirect yet clear reference to all regional problems. In an indirect but clear manner, he demanded that Arab leaders back Abbas, isolate Hamas and Hizbullah, and show determination in the struggle against radical Islam. At the same time, in order not to embarrass his guests, some of whom have close ties with Iran, he refrained from explicitly mentioning Teheran.

While the American president spoke like a practical leader, a “master” who delegates tasks to his allies and makes demands of them, Abbas and Olmert chose to emphasize the emotional aspect. The Palestinian leader warned against missing an opportunity that may not return and against the bloodshed that may result should this opportunity be missed. He also addressed his people emotionally and promised that the end of their suffering is around the corner.

Abbas also directly addressed the Israeli people and asked that they support concessions to the Palestinians. It seemed he was attempting to reconstruct the turnaround in Israeli public opinion that followed the historic speeches of Egyptian President Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein. Of course, he didn’t forget to demand a prisoner release, the removal of roadblocks, the freezing of settlement activity, the dismantlement of illegal outposts, and the reopening of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. Yet his tone was to-the-point and devoid of any accusations and provocations.

Olmert replied with gestures: Official recognition of the Palestinian people’s suffering, a pledge to freeze settlement activity and to dismantle outposts, and more “painful concessions.” There were no surprises in the speeches of both leaders, which is an American success in and of itself.

Most importantly: In Annapolis, the Bush Administration managed to set a new course for reaching Israeli-Palestinian peace. Instead of waiting for the sides to fulfill their obligations and then embark on final-status negotiations, they will quickly and seriously discuss the agreement, but implement it only after they meet the tasks outlined by the Road Map. This model is fully in the spirit of the strategy formulated by Rice and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Now, this strategy was granted the widest possible regional and international approval.

Now, all that is left is to see whether this strategy can be implemented on the ground. A required condition for this is that Abbas and Olmert, separately and together, are able to overcome domestic obstacles. This is a mission that is no less difficult than overcoming all “core issues” combined. Therefore, it is too early to even start assessing whether anything practical will come out of Annapolis.


Israeli Arabs: Abbas lacks mandate to make concessions

Roee Mandel

A poll conducted among Israeli Arabs finds them unwilling to recognize Mahmoud Abbas' authority to negotiate with Israel on their behalf.
. A survey conducted by the Mada al-Carmel- Arab Center for Applied Social Research found that most Israeli Arabs feel that Palestinian negotiators lack the mandate to make concessions on key issues in peace talks with Israel, including the right of return, the future of Jerusalem, formal recognition of the state of Israel, as well as other territorial concessions.

Professor Nadim Rouhana, who conducted the poll, said: “These results essentially imply that Israeli Arabs are telling Abbas and the PA that they have no right to make decisions that impact upon their future.”

The poll, consisting of a representative sample of 500 Israeli Arabs, was conducted just as the Annapolis peace summit was at its peak. It focused on key issues that separate the Israeli and Palestinian sides, namely the right of return for Palestinian refugees, formal recognition by Palestinians of the Jewish state, the future of Jerusalem, as well as bilateral territorial exchanges on the part of both parties.

These results indicate that Israeli Arabs clearly do not trust the Palestinian negotiating team in Annapolis, nor find them competent to make concessions on their behalf. 65.6% of respondents stated that the Palestinian Authority lacks the mandate to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state. A clear majority (79.8%) indicated that negotiators do not have their mandate to concede on the “right of return” for Palestinians refugees. A staggering 81% of Israeli Arabs stated that the Palestinian team in Annapolis did not have their consent to make any concessions regarding Jerusalem.

42.8%: Let the refugees come home
Some 73% of Arab respondents were also unwilling to allow PA negotiators to make bilateral territorial concessions on their behalf. The reasons for this refusal vary; 56.9% of respondents said that: “Such concessions degrade the Palestinians who are treated like pawns in Israeli hands.” An additional 62.6% of those polled feared that making such “territorial swaps” would strip them of their rights as Israeli citizens.

Also, 55.7% of Israeli Arabs noted the "atrocious conditions in the territories" as the reason for their refusal, where as an additional 56% maintained that corruption and poor government in the PA make territorial exchanges a bad idea.

On the issue of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, the Israeli-Arab voice is clear: 42.8% of respondents said that Palestinian refuges ought to be allowed to return to Israel; 18.5% felt that displaced Palestinians ought to be given a choice between returning to Israel and receiving monetary compensation.

Finally, 6% of Israeli Arabs felt that the solution to the refugee problem ought to be relocation within Arab countries as well as monetary compensation.

Rouhana, who conducted the poll, explained that these figures are clearly indicative of mistrust for the PA amongst Israeli Arabs.

Clearly, Israeli Arabs feel that the Palestinian Authority does not speak or act on their behalf. “Abbas addressed all the Palestinian populace at Annapolis Tuesday, but deliberately failed to mention the Israeli-Arab contingent,” said Rouhana.

“This poll clearly indicates that Israeli Arabs do not find Abbas and the PA competent to make decisions on key issues that directly impact upon their futures. They clearly do not trust Abbas to make key concessions on their behalf in the same way that they did Arafat.”

Rouhana went on to say that Israeli Arabs are especially fearful of PA recognition of a Jewish state of Israel. “Israeli Arabs are well aware of Israeli apprehensions regarding a ‘two-state solution’. At the same time, they fear that the establishment of a Palestinian state and its recognition of the state of Israel would endanger their rights as Israeli citizens," he said.

"The Israeli Arab populace is essentially telling Abbas that he cannot make territorial swaps with Israel, nor can he officially recognize the Jewish state."


Iran wins at Annapolis

Aaron Klein

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been lashing out publicly the past few days at the US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian summit in Annapolis, denouncing the meeting as a Zionist conspiracy and slamming fellow Arab countries for participating.
. But if anyone is sitting happy after yesterday's events, it's the little man in Iran, whose country and its proxies have emerged more empowered.

First let's look at the Palestinian side. President Bush read a joint declaration that committed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to conclude negotiations by the end of next year aimed at an Israeli evacuation of much of the strategic West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, handing the territories over to Abbas' US-backed security forces.

The idea this can lead to peace is predicated on the false US notion Abbas is moderate when indeed his Fatah organization and its declared military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, is responsible for more terrorism than Hamas. Fatah terrorists took responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past three years and for thousands of shooting and rocket attacks.

Just days before Abbas departed for Annapolis, members of his security forces shot and killed a Jew in the northern West Bank, declaring their "resistance" will continue until "all territories" are liberated.

It is these terror-saturated security forces, whose members double as Brigades terrorists, that are supposed to crack down on terrorism once Israel evacuates the West Bank!

Abbas' Brigades regularly receives money from the Iranian backed Lebanese Hizbullah militia, and let us not forget the "moderate" Abbas was in a coalition government with the Iranian-backed Hamas terror group and has paid Hamas salaries.

But Abbas and his Fatah forces are largely irrelevant. Hamas has announced if Israel hands territory to Abbas, then Hamas will take over.

Earlier this month, Hamas' chief in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a frequent visitor to Iran, became the most senior Hamas terror leader to state this when he told a massive rally: "Israel thinks Fatah in the West Bank is there to serve it, but we will take over the West Bank the way we took over Gaza."

It was only five months ago al-Zahar's Hamas forces humiliated Abbas when in less than seven days they took complete control of the Gaza Strip, seizing all American-backed Fatah security compounds in the territory and even taking possession of weapons that our tax dollars provided to Abbas. America's Fatah paper tiger pathetically fell like a deck of cards.

One step closer to victory
This week, Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' so-called military wing, told me he is "very happy" with the results of yesterday's summit, explaining he hopes the US pushes through a peace accord with Abbas so Hamas can then take over the territory.

This isn't empty rhetoric from some Iranian-backed gunman. Hours before the start of yesterday's summit, the Israeli Defense Forces cracked down on a cell of leading Hamas militants suspected of setting up a Hamas executive force for the terror group to take over the West Bank.

Israeli security officials say they have specific information Hamas is quietly setting the stages for an imminent West Bank takeover attempt. The officials stress Abbas is not strong enough in the West Bank to impose law and order without the help of the IDF. According to the officials, Fatah's intelligence apparatus routinely hands the IDF lists of Hamas militants that threaten Fatah rule, requesting that Israel make arrests. What will Abbas do when Israel evacuates?

Iran must also be sitting happy since its proxy state Syria is exiting Annapolis victorious. Syria is in a military alliance with Iran and is accused by the US of supporting the insurgency in Iraq and generating instability in Lebanon, where the Syrian-backed Hezbollah militia has used its parliamentary veto power to paralyze the country.

Israel says Syria regularly ships Iranian rockets and weaponry to Hizbullah. The chiefs of the Hamas and Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad terror groups are based in Damascus. Syria is also accused by Israel of holding Israeli soldiers missing in action, including Brooklyn-born Zachary Baumel, who was captured by Syrian forces 23 years ago.

Syria was invited to Annapolis without any preconditions or pledges to cease its backing of terrorism or its meddling in Lebanese affairs. Bush wrongly believed he could isolate Iran from Damascus by inviting Syria to Annapolis, but the egg is all over the US president's face.

Syria now has learned it can have its cake and eat it, too. It realizes it can support terrorism and generate regional instability and still get invited to prestigious US conferences without even having to make deceitful promises of moderation.

Not only that, but Syria gets to terrorize the region and win diplomatically, too – in exchange for its attendance, the US allowed Syria to put the issue of the Golan Heights on yesterday's agenda. The mere mentioning of the Golan by Abbas and by multiple Arab states now focuses international attention on the issue more than anytime the past 10 years and has brought more momentum in Syria's and Iran's favor.

Syria cannot breathe without Iranian permission, let alone decide to attend the Annapolis conference. This coup was coordinated. Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad played Bush for a fool.

And then we have Saudi Arabia, no friend of Iran, but its agenda regarding Israel jibes with Tehran. In his speech yesterday, Olmert recognized the importance of a Saudi-backed plan – termed the Arab Peace Initiative – widely criticized in Jerusalem as leaving Israel with truncated, indefensible borders. The plan, among other things, calls for Israel to give up the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in addition to the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip, eastern Jerusalem and the whole of the Golan, which Syria twice used to launch ground invasions into Israel.

Bush's and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Annapolis adventure is poised to fail just as every single other US-backed Israeli-Palestinian conference before it from the Madrid conference through the

Oslo process through the Camp David summit in 2000 has failed. And just as all other conferences and summits – 100 percent of the time – led to more violence, terrorism and regional instability, so too will Annapolis. Only this time, it will be Iran that will advance on the chessboard, with its proxies one step closer to victory.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for and is author of the bestselling book "Schmoozing with Terrorists"