Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ending Londonistan

Middle East Quarterly
Summer 2008, pp. 63-66

Preface by Melanie Phillips

In February 2008, Gwyn Prins, a professor at the London School of Economics, and Robert Salisbury, the marquess of Salisbury and a privy counselor, published a breakthrough essay in the RUSI Journal on the incongruity between current British defense discourse and the threat posed by radical Islam.[1] The essay, a portion of which is excerpted below, represents the consensus view not only of the authors but also of ten former military chiefs, diplomats, analysts and academics. As important as are the authors is the place of publication: The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) sits at the heart of Britain's defense establishment and is recognized internationally as an authority on defense and security issues. Their paper highlights the profound conceptual flaws at the heart of Britain's strategy for combating the threats facing the country, criticism made more devastating by the combined weight and authority of its authors. The RUSI paper is a direct challenge to current British government policy that pursues a strategy of cultural appeasement in order to buy off—as it believes—the worse prospect of terrorism and urban violence. But the British government's misguided approach merely enables radical Islamism to achieve its goals. By chance, the paper was published during the uproar generated by the archbishop of Canterbury who, on February 7, 2008, suggested that the British state should accommodate Islamic law, so that British Muslims could choose whether to be regulated by English law or Shari‘a in certain civil matters.[2]

The public was appalled at the archbishop's prescription for the Balkanization of Britain. But in fact, the British government is already affording Islam a special status provided to no other religion or culture, thus bringing about the development of parallel jurisdictions and the growth of an Islamic state within a state.

Multiple wives of Muslim men can now receive welfare benefits, effectively sanctioning polygamy. Banks now offer "Shari‘a-compliant" mortgages, and the Treasury is currently considering the introduction of Shari‘a bonds—regardless of the links with terrorism. A number of people serving on the Shari‘a advisory boards for British and Western banks have connections with Islamist extremism. In addition, a number of experts have said that Shari‘a finance offers an obvious camouflage for terrorist financing.

While the British security service says it is monitoring thousands of British Islamist terrorists and hundreds of terror groupings, [3] the government and many within the security establishment refuse to acknowledge that religious war is the motivation for these Islamists; too often, they describe such terrorism instead in Orwellian terms as "anti-Islamic."

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Moussawi, the head of Al-Manar, Hezbollah's anti-Semitic television station, is welcomed into Britain on a speaking tour, and Hizb ut-Tahrir—banned around the world—continues freely to recruit countless thousands of impressionable young British Muslims to the cause of the Islamic takeover of Britain and the West.

It is against this backdrop that the true importance of the RUSI paper becomes clear. It asserts for the first time that the core problem is Britain's profound loss of confidence in itself. British society is fragmenting under the pressures of multiculturalism, which have paralyzed any attempt to draw a line in the sand against Islamist demands. Both at home and abroad, Britain has lost any shared understanding of the threats that must be faced and how to do so. Indeed, with its steady loss of the power of self-governance to the European Union, there is no longer any clear idea of where political responsibility lies.

In short, the RUSI paper asserts that Britain's security is being put at greater risk from without because British democracy itself is at risk from within. In allowing the progressive fragmentation of British society and the weakening of its military and defense infrastructure, the government has left Britain open to the pincer movement of cultural colonization and terrorist attack. The only solution is for Britain to rediscover its historic identity, restore its power to rule itself, and reassert the mutual obligations between government and people. As such, the Prins and Salisbury paper should resonate not only within Britain but also within other Western countries struggling to balance immigration, assimilation, and identity.

… The security of the United Kingdom is at risk and under threat. The mismatch between the country's military commitments and the funding of its defense moved Lords Bramall, Boyce, Craig, Guthrie, and Inge—five former Chiefs of the Defense Staff—to take the unusual step of raising their concerns publicly in a House of Lords Defense debate on 22 November 2007 … Security is not only a question for Chiefs of the Defense Staff. It matters to every citizen of the United Kingdom. Security is the primary function of the state, for without it there can be no state, and no rule of law. The former Chiefs of the Defense Staff have stepped outside their traditional reticence to speak on behalf of all. Anxiety about defense and security runs far and wide. This essay addresses the bases of that anxiety: the sources of risk and threat, both overseas and at home. It argues that weaknesses at home, particularly divisions in our attitudes to our defense, contribute to turning risks into threats. It proposes that positive steps to strengthen and update our defense and security efforts involve returning to long established constitutional arrangements of the Queen in Parliament. Thus we may meet the needs of today and tomorrow. ... Repeated assertions by ministers that all is well, that the matter is well in hand and can be safely left to them to manage in-house, no longer carry conviction.

The electorate is uncertain and anxious ... The "war on terror" is with us now in all its ugliness. Both current military operations and the war on terror together raise a deeper point. Is there any longer a clear distinction between being at war and not being at war? A declaration of war is almost inconceivable today, and yet both our defense and security services are in action against active forces, abroad and at home, at this moment.

The electorate sees this paradox. It also worries about the way we were committed to war, especially in Iraq, and about Washington's sway and leadership. But equally, the electorate is disturbed by an undertow of doubt about the wider muddling of political responsibilities between Westminster and Brussels. Who actually holds, or will take, responsibility for our foreign relations, for our defense, and for our security? Who—for instance—should guarantee our borders?

Such uncertainty should be of primary concern because it weakens the bond between government and the governed, which is precisely what terrorists seek to achieve and what other enemies of the United Kingdom will exploit. For this reason, it is not enough for anyone (even Her Majesty's Government) to say, "Don't worry, we have it in hand." The uncertainty has to be addressed. The confidence and loyalty of the people are the wellspring from which flows the power with which all threats to defense and security are ultimately met. Our constitutional arrangements and institutional dispositions must both deserve and grow out of that loyalty and confidence. The present uncertainty suggests our arrangements need review and renewal.
Risk and Threat

Latent risks can become patent threats. What marks the change of a risk into a threat is usually the emergence of a factor which has been misjudged. It has been the reduction of traditional threats (aggression from nation states) combined with the increase of possible risk factors (most notably, Islamist terrorism, but there are many others) which has so destabilized world affairs and increased uncertainty. But linked to these changes is a loss in the United Kingdom of confidence in our own identity, values, constitution, and institutions. "This England that was wont to conquer others," wrote Shakespeare, "hath made a shameful conquest of itself." This is one of the main factors which have precipitated risks into threats. As long as it persists, it will have the power to do so again. Islamist terrorism is where people tend to begin. The United Kingdom presents itself as a target, as a fragmenting, post-Christian society, increasingly divided about interpretations of its history, about its national aims, its values and in its political identity. That fragmentation is worsened by the firm self-image of those elements within it who refuse to integrate. This is a problem worsened by the lack of leadership from the majority which in misplaced deference to "multiculturalism" failed to lay down the line to immigrant communities, thus undercutting those within them trying to fight extremism. The country's lack of self-confidence is in stark contrast to the implacability of its Islamist terrorist enemy, within and without. We live under threat. We sense that now is a time of remission, between the frontal attack of 9/11, and its eventual successor, which may deliver an even greater psychological blow. Significant though they were in their different ways, neither the 2004 Madrid train bombings (which affected a national election), nor the London Underground and bus bombings of July 2005 (which exposed the weakness of the "multi-cultural" approach towards Islamists) were that successor. Thus, we are in a confused and vulnerable condition. Some believe that we are already at war; but all may agree that generally a peace-time mentality prevails. In all three ways—our social fragmentation, the sense of premonition, and the divisions about what our stance should be—there are uneasy similarities with the years just before the First World War.

We are fortunate in not having the specific external state enemies who once posed threats to the British state and against whom we could therefore define ourselves. There has been no straight substitution of the Cold War threat with another threat of different source but similar type. But the range and nature of the threats to the security of British citizens in 2008 are not confined solely to what the Islamists call their "jihad" against the West.

A shifting complex of risks faces us. An adequate approach to Britain's security in the next few years must address questions that are intricate, delicate, and strange to our conventional way of thinking. The familiar categories of "home" and "abroad," which have long reassured the British in a deep part of their national identity, are breaking down. We know much less about what threatens us and how it does so than our official policies assert.

Melanie Phillips is the author of Londonistan (New York: Encounter Books, 2006).

[1] Gwyn Prins and Robert Salisbury, "Risk, Threat and Security," RUSI Journal, Feb. 2008.
[2] "Archbishop's Lecture—Civil and Religious Law in England: A Religious Perspective," Feb. 7, 2008.
[3] Jonathan Evans, address to the Society of Editors, Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Manchester, Eng., Nov. 5, 2007; The Times (London), Nov. 6, 2007.


Naomi Ragen

I was a new oleh when the PFLP and two Germans hijacked a plane full of Israelis to Entebbe. I remember well those nail-biting days, the moral dilemma of freeing dangerous terrorists for live hostages; the idea that negotiations would just lead to more hijackings. But what other choice did we have? After all, they were in Uganda, so far away .We found a way.

I will never forget the morning of July 4, 1976, waking up to the news. Our soldiers had gone in, at great personal risk. They had saved almost everyone, and killed the terrorists. We were not helpless victims anymore, the Jews. No, we were clever, and resourceful and courageous. We showed the world how to behave.We led the way.
I wake up this morning of July 16, 2008 with quite another feeling. Our soldiers, kidnapped on our own land, not across any international border, are brought back to us in caskets after two years of sadistic playfulness with the hearts of their families by Hezbollah terrorists, who led us to believe they were alive.And in exchange for dead bodies, we turn over a despicable baby-killer, Sami Kuntar.Oh, you will hear the boosters of the Israeli government sigh.What can we do? We are civilized and they are not. We care about our soldiers and their families.

No, I'm afraid you do not. If you cared, then you would have a death penalty for people like Kuntar, so that they too can be released in caskets. And if you cared, you would be intelligent enough, seeing our soldiers brought back to us dead, to have put a bullet through Kuntar and then turned him over to his friends.Civilized is a euphemism for weak and helpless. Civilized is not a moral value, because we all know what Western civilization is capable of. Concentration camps. Civilian round-ups, the gassing of children.

All this under the banner of laws and policemen and governments. On the other hand, the moral thing to do to a tried and convicted murderer like Kuntar is to spill his blood, because he has spilled the blood of others. That may not fit in with current civilized niceties, but let no one say it is immoral.

When it comes to immoral, to release Kuntar to a hero's welcome and the opportunity to murder others is on the top of the scale.
My government, the Israeli government, arranged this. They let it happen.

They oversaw it and implemented it.
I am deeply ashamed to be an Israeli today. And I'm not very proud of being a Jew either, if this is how a Jewish country behaves. To lead the world in ever more despicable acts of appeasement is nothing to be proud of. The torch we always carried, the "light unto the nations" has been blown out by the hot-air of our politicians.

If we cared about our soldiers, we would not be showing our enemies that kidnapping and terrorism pay. We would not be setting the stage for the next murderous terrorist raid and hostage standoff. We would be passing laws with a mandatory death penalty for convicted terrorists with blood on their hands, as well as their accomplices. We would be making these laws retroactive. Then, we would be cutting off all water and electricity to Gaza until Gilad Shalit is released. If that didn't work, we'd begin executions within one week, increasing the number convicted terrorists facing firing squads with each passing day until Gilad is returned to us safe and sound. And if that didn't work, we would begin daily bombings of Gaza, with the same number and frequency of attacks that our own city Sderot has suffered over the past three years from the Gazans. Not civilized?

Perhaps. But moral. Extremely moral.
My fantasy is that Israelis will rise up and overturn the political system which has left them with the dregs of their nation as leaders- a bunch of self-serving crooks and sycophants who will do anything to stay in office; an electoral system in which a party like Kadima, with its collection of felons and moral imbeciles , who got only 23% of the vote, is allowed to rule us into the ground. We have Mr. Olmert, and Ms. Livni, and Mr. Peres, and Mr. Ramon (a convicted sex offender, who is now in line to take over from Olmert) and many, many others to thank, for creating this day of infamy.

May G-d redeem us from them.

Demographic Optimism, Not Fatalism

Yoram Ettinger

Anyone suggesting that Jews are doomed to become a minority west of the Jordan River is either grossly mistaken or outrageously misleading.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the annual number of Jewish births has increased by 40% between 1995 (80,400) and 2007 (112,543), while the annual number of “Green Line” Arab births has stabilized around 39,000 during the same period. The secular Jewish sector is mostly responsible to the impressive increase, especially Soviet Olim, who shifted from Russian fertility rate of 1 child per woman to the secular Israeli Jewish rate of 2.2 children. Arab-Jewish fertility gap has been reduced from 6 children per woman in 1969 to 0.7 child in 2007! Arab fertility rate (3.5 births per woman) has declined 20 year faster than projected – due to successful integration into Israel’s health, educational, financial and commercial infrastructures - while Jewish fertility rate is rising (2.8 births per woman). Arab-Jewish fertility rates have converged in Jerusalem – 3.9 births per woman – for the first time since 1948. Currently, Israel’s Jewish fertility is the highest in the industrialized world. The Bennett Zimmerman-led “American-Israel Demographic Research Group” (AIDRG) documents a substantial decline of Arab population growth rate in Judea & Samaria and Gaza, primarily, due to annual average net-emigration of well over 10,000 (some 80% from Judea & Samaria). Emigration was encouraged by King Hussein, but was slowed down in 1968 due to the access gained by Palestinians to Israel’s health, educational and employment base. However, emigration has escalated since 2000 due to the Second Intifadah, and shifted to a higher gear following the ascension of Hamas to power and the subsequent civil war with Fatah. Arab net-emigration from Judea & Samaria and Gaza has peaked (25,000 annually in 2006 and 2007) with the rising price of oil, which has increased demand by Persian Gulf sheikdoms for Palestinian workforce. At the same time, the Jewish State has benefited from annual Aliya since 1882, in defiance of Israel’s demographic establishment, which has projected – since 1944 - no substantial waves of Aliya.

A decline in Judea & Samaria and Gaza Arab fertility has been documented by AIDRG, which audited Palestinian births, deaths, school enrollment and voter registration records, kept by the Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education, Palestinian Election Commission and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The decline in fertility is attributed to accelerated urbanization, expanded education, evolving career mentality, higher divorce rate, higher median wedding-age, decline in teen–pregnancy and intense family planning, led by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA. In fact, such a decline is typical of today’s Muslim countries, forcing the UN Population Division to reduce global population projections by 25%. The unprecedented drop in Muslim fertility has been led by Iran’s Ayatollahs and Mullahs: from 10 children per woman twenty five years ago to 1.8 children today.

AIDRG documents a 1.1MN (40%) artificial inflation in the official number of Palestinians in Gaza, Judea & Samaria (2.7MN and not 3.8MN) and a 53% inflation in the official number of Palestinians in Judea & Samaria alone (1.5MN and not 2.3MN). The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) includes in its census some 400,000 overseas residents, it adds over 200,000 Israeli (Jerusalem) Arabs who are also counted as “Green Line” Arabs, it ignores about 200,000 emigrants (since 1997), etc.

The World Bank 2006 survey of education, in Judea & Samaria and Gaza, documents a 32% gap between the number of Palestinian births claimed by the PCBS, and those documented by the Palestinian Ministries of Health and Education. The World Bank attributes the gap to reduced fertility and escalated emigration.

A solid 67% Jewish majority exists on 98.5% of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (without Gaza), compared with a 33% and an 8% minority – west of the Jordan River - in 1947 and 1900 respectively.

There is a demographic problem, but there is no demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State. Moreover, the demographic momentum has shifted to the Jewish sector. Demography constitutes a source of hope and optimism, not fatalism and pessimism, when it comes to long-term social, economic, Aliya and national security policy decision-making.

Obamanomics Is a Recipe for Recession


What if I told you that a prominent global political figure in recent months has proposed: abrogating key features of his government's contracts with energy companies; unilaterally renegotiating his country's international economic treaties; dramatically raising marginal tax rates on the "rich" to levels not seen in his country in three decades (which would make them among the highest in the world); and changing his country's social insurance system into explicit welfare by severing the link between taxes and benefits? The first name that came to mind would probably not be Barack Obama, possibly our nation's next president. Yet despite his obvious general intelligence, and uplifting and motivational eloquence, Sen. Obama reveals this startling economic illiteracy in his policy proposals and economic pronouncements. From the property rights and rule of (contract) law foundations of a successful market economy to the specifics of tax, spending, energy, regulatory and trade policy, if the proposals espoused by candidate Obama ever became law, the American economy would suffer a serious setback.

To be sure, Mr. Obama has been clouding these positions as he heads into the general election and, once elected, presidents sometimes see the world differently than when they are running. Some cite Bill Clinton's move to the economic policy center following his Hillary health-care and 1994 Congressional election debacles as a possible Obama model. But candidate Obama starts much further left on spending, taxes, trade and regulation than candidate Clinton. A move as large as Mr. Clinton's toward the center would still leave Mr. Obama on the economic left.

Also, by 1995 the country had a Republican Congress to limit President Clinton's big government agenda, whereas most political pundits predict strengthened Democratic majorities in both Houses in 2009. Because newly elected presidents usually try to implement the policies they campaigned on, Mr. Obama's proposals are worth exploring in some depth. I'll discuss taxes and trade, although the story on his other proposals is similar.

First, taxes.
The table nearby demonstrates what could happen to marginal tax rates in an Obama administration. Mr. Obama would raise the top marginal rates on earnings, dividends and capital gains passed in 2001 and 2003, and phase out itemized deductions for high income taxpayers. He would uncap Social Security taxes, which currently are levied on the first $102,000 of earnings. The result is a remarkable reduction in work incentives for our most economically productive citizens.

The top 35% marginal income tax rate rises to 39.6%; adding the state income tax, the Medicare tax, the effect of the deduction phase-out and Mr. Obama's new Social Security tax (of up to 12.4%) increases the total combined marginal tax rate on additional labor earnings (or small business income) from 44.6% to a whopping 62.8%. People respond to what they get to keep after tax, which the Obama plan reduces from 55.4 cents on the dollar to 37.2 cents -- a reduction of one-third in the after-tax wage!

Despite the rhetoric, that's not just on "rich" individuals. It's also on a lot of small businesses and two-earner middle-aged middle-class couples in their peak earnings years in high cost-of-living areas. (His large increase in energy taxes, not documented here, would disproportionately harm low-income Americans. And, while he says he will not raise taxes on the middle class, he'll need many more tax hikes to pay for his big increase in spending.)

On dividends the story is about as bad, with rates rising from 50.4% to 65.6%, and after-tax returns falling over 30%. Even a small response of work and investment to these lower returns means such tax rates, sooner or later, would seriously damage the economy.

On economic policy,
the president proposes and Congress disposes, so presidents often wind up getting the favorite policy of powerful senators or congressmen. Thus, while Mr. Obama also proposes an alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch, he could instead wind up with the permanent abolition plan for the AMT proposed by the Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) -- a 4.6% additional hike in the marginal rate with no deductibility of state income taxes. Marginal tax rates would then approach 70%, levels not seen since the 1970s and among the highest in the world. The after-tax return to work -- the take-home wage for more time or effort -- would be cut by more than 40%.

Comment: Get the facts-challenge the mantras and share this information-this is a Middle Class issue!

Now trade. In the primaries, Sen. Obama was famously protectionist, claiming he would rip up and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). Since its passage (for which former President Bill Clinton ran a brave anchor leg, given opposition to trade liberalization in his party), Nafta has risen to almost mythological proportions as a metaphor for the alleged harm done by trade, globalization and the pace of technological change.

Yet since Nafta was passed (relative to the comparable period before passage), U.S. manufacturing output grew more rapidly and reached an all-time high last year; the average unemployment rate declined as employment grew 24%; real hourly compensation in the business sector grew twice as fast as before; agricultural exports destined for Canada and Mexico have grown substantially and trade among the three nations has tripled; Mexican wages have risen each year since the peso crisis of 1994; and the two binational Nafta environmental institutions have provided nearly $1 billion for 135 environmental infrastructure projects along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In short, it would be hard, on balance, for any objective person to argue that Nafta has injured the U.S. economy, reduced U.S. wages, destroyed American manufacturing, harmed our agriculture, damaged Mexican labor, failed to expand trade, or worsened the border environment. But perhaps I am not objective, since Nafta originated in meetings James Baker and I had early in the Bush 41 administration with Pepe Cordoba, chief of staff to Mexico's President Carlos Salinas.

Mr. Obama has also opposed other important free-trade agreements, including those with Colombia, South Korea and Central America. He has spoken eloquently about America's responsibility to help alleviate global poverty -- even to the point of saying it would help defeat terrorism -- but he has yet to endorse, let alone forcefully advocate, the single most potent policy for doing so: a successful completion of the Doha round of global trade liberalization. Worse yet, he wants to put restrictions into trade treaties that would damage the ability of poor countries to compete. And he seems to see no inconsistency in his desire to improve America's standing in the eyes of the rest of the world and turning his back on more than six decades of bipartisan American presidential leadership on global trade expansion. When trade rules are not being improved, nontariff barriers develop to offset the liberalization from the current rules. So no trade liberalization means creeping protectionism.

History teaches us that high taxes and protectionism are not conducive to a thriving economy, the extreme case being the higher taxes and tariffs that deepened the Great Depression. While such a policy mix would be a real change, as philosophers remind us, change is not always progress.

Mr. Boskin, professor of economics at Stanford University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush.

Obama At The Bat

Abe Bernstein , For The Bulletin

Sports fans, always hopeful, are nevertheless realistic in their expectations about the home team's standings. They know that batting averages or pass completions and prior performance counts. Their passion doesn't override their objectivity.
But something happens to that objectivity when it comes to politics and politicians. In politics, we Americans tend not to look at batting averages, prior performance or history. A politician, however limited his experience, can come to the plate, point to center field and most of us will then stand up and cheer in advance of that certain home run. It's particularly true today. Barack Obama has come to the plate with no batting average, no RBIs, no runs scored. His prior experience was as a utility infielder in a Class C minor league (community social worker and then Illinois legislator). But he has been called up to the majors, as a senator and now as the apparent Democratic nominee for president.

Let's consider his voting record in the U.S. Senate as his batting record. In the last 90 days,(April through June) the Senate voted on 80 bills or amendments. Mr. Obama didn't cast a vote on 50 of them. That's consistent with his absentee record as an Illinois legislator. What were some of those bills he wasn't around for?
* He speaks of the sanctity of the environment but doesn't show up for a vote providing clean energy tax incentives (HR 3221).
* He's a no-show for a vote on renewable energy tax credits (Amndt 4387).
* He's not there for a vote on providing educational assistance for our armed forces (HR980).
* Missing in action for a vote holding oil companies responsible for price gouging (S3044).
* No where in sight for a cloture vote on Medicare extensions (S3101).
* AWOL on promotions for Generals Petraeus and Odierno

And what does he do his first time at bat in the majors as the presumed Democratic nominee for president? He points to center field! He's the Babe Ruth of international diplomacy! By virtue of his charisma, he is going to reason with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and persuade Iran to stop building the bomb ... he's going to remove our troops from Iraq and convince the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds to live in peace ... he is going to persuade the Sudanese government to stop the murder in Darfur and, while he is against murder, he nevertheless agrees with the NRA that the right to bear arms is a constitutional right ... and while he also supports a woman's right to choose, she may not choose in a late term pregnancy ... and most significant of all, he promises to turn out the entrenched Washington insiders but has refused to participate in public election funding (after first pledging that he would) and will continue to solicit contributions from these same Washington insiders.

His speeches are marked by a rhetorical art unlike any since the days of Adlai Stevenson. And he uses that art to convince Americans not to look at his batting average or his RBIs. With virtually no executive experience, no prior political leadership at a state or national level, no legislation with his name on it, no consistency or conviction in his recent policy declarations (he has flip-flopped on virtually every major issue), he wants to be president of the United States. And he has convinced millions of Americans to disregard his absentee voting record, disregard his lack of experience, disregard his choice of religious pastors, his choice of friends, his choice of big money contributors, disregard his inconsistencies ... and make him president of the United States!

And these same passionate citizens who would never tolerate a .150 hitter in the clean-up spot of their home team ... these savvy fans are going to vote for Obama for president! Holy cow!

Abe Bernstein is a retired business executive and a Philadelphia sports fan.

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

Iran Building Secret Nuclear Reactor

Memri | 7/31/2008

On July 29, 2008, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported that, according to "highly reliable sources," Iranian authorities had begun construction of a secret nuclear reactor in the Al-Zarqan region close to the city of Ahwaz in southwest Iran, on the Iran-Iraq border.

The paper said that according to sources, Iran was working to distance its nuclear installations from international oversight. The English version of the report, published in the Kuwaiti Arab Times, said, "Disclosing [that] Tehran directed international A-bomb inspectors to other places, sources warned [that] the project poses a very serious threat to international security." Also according to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not know about this site at all, since it was not included in negotiations with Iran in Geneva held in early July.

According to the report, the sources said that during 2000-2003, Iran expropriated the lands and homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region, destroying homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region.

Destroyed homes, fields, orchards, and wells, and built a three-meter-high wall around the project site, which allegedly measures hundreds of kilometers.

The report also said that "the construction of the reactor began with the laying of a pipeline for fresh water from the [nearby] KarounRiver to the site, and the expansion of the Al-Zarqan power station."

Also, the sources said that "the construction works seem to be routine and do not arouse attention, but the tight security around the region is what arouses suspicions regarding the nature of the work." They added that the site is guarded by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel, reflecting its importance and sensitivity.

Following is a summary of the Al-Siyassa report, [1] and from its English [2] version in the Kuwaiti English-language daily Arab Times, which was also published July 29, 2008.

IRGC Commander's Letter to Construction Company: Maintain Complete Secrecy

In its report, Al-Siyassa included a letter dated April 7, 2008 from the office of the assistant of IRGC commander in Al-Ahwaz city Brig. Hassan Jalaliyan, marked "highly confidential," to Mohammed Kayafir, manager of the Mehab Qudus Company for Construction and Supervision, which is building the reactor. The following is a translation of the letter:

"From the IRGC Commander in the city of Al-Ahwas to the director in charge at the Mehab Qudus company for Construction and Supervision Mr. Mohammed Kayafir

"Re: The nuclear reactor at Al-Zarqan


"I thank you for the good services of the Mehab Qudus company, and at the same time I must remind you of the following items:

"1. All construction materials must be transported from the warehouses to the construction site in top secrecy.

"2. As part of the doctrine of caution, we reiterate yet again that during the transport of all required materials, you must ensure that this [transport] does not arouse the suspicions of any citizen in the region through which you are moving.

"3. In general, it is absolutely forbidden to hire any Arabic speakers or any citizen from Khozestan in the framework of the 'Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor' construction project. You must ensure that all manpower, including the driver, the accountant, the warehouse manager, the laborer, the technician, or the guard, comes from the northern provinces.

"In conclusion, we say yet again that all the construction work in this project must be carried out under absolute secrecy.

"From the aide to IRGC commander in the city of Al-Ahwaz, Hassan Jalaliyan."

Below is an image of the document, as it appeared in the Al-Siyassa report:

An Ideal Place to Build a Nuclear Reactor - The Local Residents Can Serve as a Human Shield

Al-Siyassa also reported that the "National Society for Arabstan State took satellite pictures of the location, which looked perfect for the construction of a secret nuclear reactor..." It added, "The site is more suitable for building a nuclear reactor than Bushehr, which is close to American bases." It noted that a nuclear power plant under construction at Darkhovin is in an open area on the main road between Ahwaz and Abadan - while the "Al-Zarqan nuclear reactor is in the middle of very highly populated areas, making it a very difficult target due to a possibility that the Iranian authorities will use civilians as human shields."

On January 31, 2008, the Iran Daily wrote that Iranian Atomic Energy Organization deputy head Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh had said that the nuclear power plant at Darkhovin, in southwestern Iran, would become operational in 2016. [3]

Below is the satellite photo published by Al-Siyassa:

[1] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), July 29, 2008,

[2] Arab Times (Kuwait), July 29, 2008, (the text has been lightly edited for clarity).

[3] Iran Daily (Iran), January 31, 2008,

Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries stress Syria's Right to Restore Occupied Golan

Tehran, (SANA)-The Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries stressed that the Israeli measures of annexing the occupied Syrian Golan are null and void , calling on Israel to withdraw from all of Golan.

In the final statement, adopted at the conclusion of the 15th conference of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries held in Tehran July 29-30 2008 with the participation of Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, the Foreign Ministers on Thursday underscored their support to Syria's just demand and right to restore the whole sovereignty on the occupied Golan.

They called on Israel to release the Syrian prisoners of the Golan, condemning the inhuman treatment practiced by Israeli authorities against them.

The Foreign Ministers also denounced the Israeli aggression on a Syrian establishment in Sept. 2007. They expressed concern over imposing unilateral sanctions on Syria by the US, underlining that the so-called "Syria's Accountability Act" violates the international law and the UN Charter, aims and principles, calling on the US to consider this Act as null and void.

The statement asserted the importance of the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace in the region on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, land-for-peace principle, Madrid terms of reference , the Arab peace initiative and the Israeli withdrawal to the June 4th 1967 line.

Nawal / Zahra

In Wake of Tahdiah Agreement, Escalation in Hamas-Fatah Conflict and in Fatah's Position Vis-à-vis Israel


C. Jacob *


Under the tahdiah agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which went into effect on June 19, 2008, the Palestinians agreed to stop the rocket attacks on Israel in exchange for a cessation of Israel's military activity in Gaza. It was also agreed that there would be negotiations for opening the Rafah crossing, with the participation of Palestinian Authority, Hamas and E.U. representatives. [1]

The agreement was the result of prolonged negotiations, during which both sides withdrew some of their original demands. Hamas waived its demands to include the West Bank in the agreement and to open the Rafah crossing immediately. Israel, on its part, withdrew its demand to stop arms smuggling as a condition for signing the agreement, and did not insist on a clause linking the tahdiah to the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas was very interested in the tahdiah, mainly out of concern that the continued siege on Gaza would weaken its status among the Palestinians, and out of fear that Israel would target its leaders. Nevertheless, the movement has presented the agreement as an Israeli capitulation and as a Hamas victory, emphasizing the lifting of the siege on Gaza and Israel's apparent recognition of Hamas.

Though some of the Palestinian factions expressed reservations about the agreement, they all agreed to the tahdiah. Despite this, some of them have violated the agreement by firing rockets at Israel, on the pretext that Israel's military actions in the West Bank constituted a breach of the tahdiah. Hamas' response to the violations was ambiguous; while one Hamas spokesmen expressed sympathy for the groups that had fired, and stressed that Hamas would not impose the tahdiah by force, other Hamas spokesmen emphasized the need for coordinated action by all the Palestinian factions, stating that those who launch rockets must be arrested. As a matter of fact, Hamas has indeed arrested some activists from Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades who fired or were planning to fire rockets. Israel's response to the rocket fire has been to intermittently close the border crossings, which in turn has led Hamas to suspend negotiations on the release of Gilad Shalit.

The tahdiah has brought about an escalation in the conflict between Hamas and the PA. The PA and Fatah criticized the tahdiah agreement, accusing Hamas of selling out the Palestinian cause - and especially the West Bank - in order to protect its leaders from assassination and in return for "fuel and food that are sold on the black market for a personal profit." PA and Fatah spokesmen also claimed that Hamas has relinquished its hard-line position, and is now pursuing the very same policy that the PA had pursued in the past - a policy that harshly condemned by Hamas at the time. The tension between the PA and Hamas has also resulted in armed clashes between the two sides in Gaza and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the tahdiah is being only partially honored, with each side - Hamas and Israel - trying to pressure the other. Hamas, which sees the agreement as a victory, is calling to escalate the resistance in the West Bank. It has explicitly condoned the recent acts of terrorism in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and has taken responsibility for some of them in a bid to refute claims that it has sacrificed the West Bank and has abandoned the path of resistance. Hamas's military arm, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, even threatened recently to abduct more Israeli soldiers.

Senior Fatah leaders have also escalated their statements - perhaps in attempt to prove that they are no less committed than Hamas to the national cause, and perhaps because Israel's agreement with Hamas has convinced them that force can lead to achievements. In their statements, they stressed that Fatah had not relinquished the strategy of armed resistance, congratulated Samir Al-Quntar on his release from the Israeli prison, and glorified Dalal Al-Mughrabi, who led the 1978 coast road bus hijacking. This, in addition to the violation of the tahdiah by Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades, whose members recently fired rockets at Israel.

Following are excerpts from articles on the tahdiah in the Palestinian press, and from postings on a Hamas-affiliated website.

Hamas: The Tahdiah Is A Victory

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar, formerly foreign minister in the Hamas government, announced: "The tahdiah is a victory for the Palestinian people. Israel agreed to it [only] when it realized that it could not benefit from military action." [2]

Hamas' Perceived Achievements:

Israeli Recognition of Hamas

Hamas political bureau deputy chief Moussa Abu Marzouq stated: "As a result of the tahdiah, Israel has for the first time, officially and genuinely, recognized the legitimacy of Hamas." He added: "It was [the Israelis] who initiated the tahdiah, and we agreed to reciprocate." [3]

Hamas media coordinator Ramadhan Shabet wrote on the Hamas-affiliated website "For the first time, the tyrant has bowed to the will of the people who have risen up against him and who have refused to accept the siege, deprivation and oppression. Congratulations to the people and to the legitimate government in Gaza, who have compelled this enemy to beg for some peace and quiet, when in the past he would brag, calling your honorable resistance 'terrorism' and refusing to recognize the so-called 'terrorism and terrorists.' All this is the result of your fortitude." [4]

Another contributor to the site, Badr Al-Din Madoukh, wrote: "The countdown to enemy's downfall has begun, and the trap has been set for the Zionist enterprise. For the second time in its history, it has publicly agreed to a tahdiah with the resistance forces, which are determined to maintain their strategic goal - [namely] to wipe the [Zionist] entity off the face of the earth... The tahdiah is tantamount to recognition by all sides that Hamas is a major player in the political process, and that any agreement or negotiations over the Palestinian issue must be approved by Hamas." [5]

The Lifting of the Siege on Gaza

Hamas spokesman Isma'il Radhwan said that the movement's main achievement was in the lifting of the siege on Gaza, which was an injustice to the Palestinians. [6]

A Respite for the Palestinian People and Fighters

Hamas political bureau member 'Izzat Al-Rishq said: "The tahdiah is a respite that we have achieved for our people, [allowing them] a breath of air." [7] A contributor to, Ibrahim Al-Shahid, wrote: "We wished to stop for a while the [acts of] aggression against our people, in order to give the resistance groups a chance to rest, to prepare, and to reorganize. That is all we wanted. Our goal was [to give] the warriors a respite, [8] in preparation for the next round. We wanted to give them a six-month break in which to prepare, so they would deal swift death to the Israelis in the next round [of fighting]. [In the meantime] we continue to arm, train, and become stronger." [9]

Proof that Force and Resistance Can Lead to Achievements

Journalist Karem Al-Gharabli of the Hamas weekly Al-Risala wrote: "Hamas has succeeded where others have failed: It has confirmed and enforced the famous maxim that 'what was taken by force will only be regained by force.' This is a strategic achievement for Hamas, which has managed to combine armed [resistance] with political [tactics]." [10] A posting on by Ahmad Al-Hila stated: "The resistance conveyed a clear message, namely, that armed [fighting] combined with endurance and a clear vision can lead to a victory in our struggle against the occupation, and can bring us closer to obtaining our rights... The occupation understands nothing but force, and has no respect for the weak - [so] it is only natural that it has founded its state and its [concept of] glory on an ideology of force. Had it not experienced a bitter failure in countering the 'useless' rockets of the resistance, it would not have signed this tahdiah agreement with the resistance." [11]

Another contributor to the site, Bashar Sa'id, wrote: "The enemy agreed to a tahdiah after it failed to achieve its goal of defeating Gaza and the Hamas government by [a combination of] military means and a suffocating siege." [12]

Contributor Muhammad Shurab commented that Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel were not as effective as suicide bombings, but that Israel's failure to stop these attacks was in itself a victory for Hamas. As a result of this failure, he said, "[Israel's] army suffered great harm and its deterrence [capabilities] eroded... The resistance won the battle, though it paid a heavy price in lives and [damage to] property." [13]

Abducted Soldier Gilad Shalit Left Out Of Tahdiah Deal

A posting on by Majid Al-Zibdeh stated: "The bilateral tahdiah [agreement], which was approved by the various factions of the Palestinian resistance and by the Zionist enemy, came after the Zionist negotiators failed to tie the tahdiah to the issue of the soldier Gilad Shalit. This is a new victory for the Palestinian resistance, [which has managed] to cling to its position despite the heavy siege on Gaza and despite its desperate need for a tahdiah." [14]

Arms Smuggling Clause Not Included in Deal

Hamas leader Isma'il Haniyya said: "[The Israelis] said that Hamas must stop the so-called smuggling of arms by sea and by land... [However,] we did not respond to this call, because it is unjust... [Moreover, stopping the arms smuggling] is beyond the capacity of the [Hamas] government, so we will not undertake such a commitment." [15] Former Hamas spokesman Taher Al-Nunu likewise emphasized that "the tahdiah agreement did not contain any clause on stopping the [arms] smuggling." He added: "Israel agreed to this because the Hamas government made it clear that it had nothing to do with the smuggling issue." [16]

A Chance for National Reconciliation

Ahmad Al-Hila wrote on "The tahdiah is a chance for reassessment in the domestic Palestinian arena, after some severe disagreements that prevailed in the past year among the brothers in the homeland, and after the distinct failure of the political process [vis-à-vis Israel]." [17]

Unlike PA, Hamas Obtained Concessions From Israel

Hamas political bureau deputy head Moussa Abu Marzouq stated that the tahdiah had caused the PA considerable embarrassment, because "Hamas had managed to put a stop to the aggression [against] Gaza while the PA had achieved nothing in the West Bank - either on the political or on the security front." Abu Marzouq added: "[In the West Bank,] the arrests and assassinations continue, and not a single checkpoint has been removed. The PA has not succeeded in stopping the attacks on the Palestinian people. It has failed to defend them despite its continued contacts and negotiations with the enemy." [18]

Majid Al-Zibdeh wrote on "[Hamas'] insistence on its positions and its refusal to accept the Zionist terms [are in striking contrast to] the concessions made by the [PA] negotiators, who have [always] been the weak side in [their] agreements with the Zionist enemy. It is clear to all that if the [PA] negotiator had insisted on his positions, [putting aside] personal and narrow factional interests, these [Palestinian] concessions would have never been made." [19]

Hamas Calls to Escalate Resistance in West Bank While Expressing Commitment to Tahdiah

Calls to Escalate Resistance

The tahdiah has motivated Hamas to escalate the fighting in the West Bank - first, out of a sense that only force will compel Israel to make concessions, and second, as a signal that it has not sacrificed the West Bank in favor of Gaza, and that - in spite of the tahdiah - it has not relinquished the path of resistance. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stressed that "the duty of the resistance [fighters] in the West Bank is to fight," and called upon the PA security forces "to allow [them] to fulfill their task of defending the [Palestinian] people in the face of the Zionist aggression." [20]

The call to escalate the fighting in the West Bank was also manifest in other Hamas statements and publications, such as the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam communiqué taking responsibility for the June 20, 2008 attack on Israeli settlers near Neve Tsuf. The communiqué said: "We will not stand idly by [while the West Bank suffers]... The heroes and knights of the West Bankwill be like a bone in the throat of the occupation." [21] A posting on praised Houssam Duwiyat, who carried out the July 2, 2008 bulldozer attack in Jerusalem, stating, "The Jews need a thousand Houssams." [22] Ahmad Al-Hila wrote on "Since the attempts to reach a political settlement have failed, why don't we take advantage of the fact that there is no tahdiah in the West Bank, and concentrate our resistance effort there, in a bid to stop the cancerous [spread of the] settlements and the confiscation of land?" [23]

Another contributor to the site, Rashid Thabet, wrote in a similar vein: "The honorable and loyal [resistance fighters] can turn the only problematic [aspect] of the [tahdiah] deal - namely the non-inclusion of the West Bank - to their advantage by [escalating] the resistance there, or by using it as a base for [attacks] on every possible target [in Israel]." [24]

Expressions of Commitment to the Tahdiah

Though it did not respond forcefully to violations of the tahdiah, Hamas has expressed commitment towards it and a determination to honor it. Mahmoud Al-Zahar stated: "Hamas and Islamic Jihad have agreed that anyone who violates the agreement - including their own members - will be arrested and his weapons will be confiscated, since [such actions] are not resistance but a sabotage of the resistance." [25] On July 10, the Hamas security forces arrested three activists from the Al-Aqsa Brigades who had fired rockets into Israel. [26]

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: "We in Hamas [hereby] declare that we are committed to the tahdiah, and that we will work with all other Palestinian factions [to guarantee] its success and continuation... Clearly, it was the Zionist occupation that provoked the Palestinian public and the resistance factions by perpetrating the heinous crime in Nablus and executing two [Palestinians] in cold blood after the [prolonged] siege [on our people]." [27]

Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Haya said that "Hamas would not enforce the tahdiah in Gaza by use of arms if the resistance groups violated it," and that "Hamas would not become a policeman securing the borders of the occupation." [28] At the same time, he criticized Islamic Jihad for rushing to respond to the Israeli attack in Nablus, saying: "If it is necessary to respond, it should be done in the West Bank, not in Gaza." [29]

Hamas also criticized the Al-Aqsa Brigades for trying to sabotage the tahdiah through rocket attacks on Israel. Ahmad Al-Filou wrote on "Launching rockets at this time is a Fatah tactic aimed at embarrassing Hamas, which is honoring the tahdiah agreement that it signed out of [a sense of] supreme responsibility. [Fatah is violating the agreement] in order to create a distorted and misleading impression, [namely that] Hamas is against the resistance while the remnants of Dahlan's gang - those cowardly [signers] of the Oslo [Accords] and the agents of the Mossad - are patriotic resistance [fighters]." [30]

Amira 'Abd Al-'Aziz wrote on "Where were the rockets of [Fatah's] Al-Aqsa Brigades when the Palestinians were experiencing hard times in Gaza? Why were they silent [then]? Why did they remain silent while Gaza burned, and what has caused them to awaken now, after [Hamas] signed the tahdiah agreement? Have the rockets and the armed resistance ceased to be 'useless' [as Fatah used to claim]? Or perhaps [the Al-Aqsa Brigades activists] were in a deep coma, and have woken from it only now, when the rockets of Hamas and 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam are taking a rest?... Perhaps orders have come from Ramallah to oppose and sabotage the tahdiah, since Hamas has achieved [this victory] and compelled the enemy to agree to its terms." [31]

PA Spokesmen Criticize Tahdiah Agreement

Although the PA generally supported the tahdiah, some PA officials opposed it and harshly criticized Hamas. Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Nabil 'Omar stated in an interview that "in the tahdiah agreement, Hamas sacrificed the West Bank by stating that the tahdiah would be implemented gradually." He added: "What will Hamas say if Israel enters Nablus? It will condemn it just as we have, but will do nothing, since it has accepted that the tahdiah holds only in Gaza." [32]

Palestinian information ministry official Hani Al-Masri, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "Under the tahdiah agreement, the siege will not be lifted [immediately] but only gradually. [Furthermore, the agreement] does not guarantee the opening of the Rafah crossing, [but leaves] this issue for [future] negotiations... Nor does it include the exchange of prisoners, which is another [missed opportunity], since the Israeli government is under great pressure in this matter by the [Israeli] public and the family of Gilad Shalit... [In addition,] the tahdiah agreement does not include a provision for effective supervision by a third party... The most serious flaw, [however,] is that [the tahdiah] is not contingent on any political process and is not expected to be accompanied by serious negotiations to end the occupation. This makes the tahdiah - if it materializes and endures - [an act of] coexistence with the occupation, when what is needed is an end to the occupation..." [33]

Yousef Muhammad, columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote: "Hamas has sold out the interests of the Palestinian people in order to protect its leaders from assassination and in exchange for some food and fuel sold on the black market for personal profit."

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist and advisor to the Palestinian prime minister 'Omar Hilmi Al-Ghul wrote: "The Hamas leadership has agreed to be a policeman securing the borders of the occupying and aggressive Israeli state. To this end, it has been persecuting the resistance groups, and has even arrested some [resistance fighters], even if it has not made this public... [As a result of the tahdiah,] Gaza and its political forces are under supervision; if some resistance groups develop weapons and carry out resistance operations, Israel will have the right to regard the tahdiah as null and void."

Former PA deputy minister Dr. Sufyan Abu Zaida stated: "Hamas is currently trying to play the role previously played by the PA, when it sought to maintain a tahdiah. What is the difference between an 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam fighter who is [now] responsible for maintaining the tahdiah and is [therefore] preventing resistance fighters from carrying out operations and a soldier from the [PA] National Defense Forces who did this in the past?" [34] Al-Ayyam columnist 'Abdallah 'Awwad wrote: "When Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas] promoted a tahdiah, it was regarded as treason, heresy and collaboration [with the enemy]; however, when Hamas upholds the tahdiah, it [is characterized as] struggle, resistance, victory, and the superior interest of the Palestinian people... Have you forgotten that [your] slogan used to be 'resistance until the liberation of the West Bank?'" [35]

Escalation in Fatah Positions

Escalation vis-à-vis Hamas

The PA has escalated its positions vis-à-vis Hamas, notwithstanding President 'Abbas's announcement of a national dialogue under Egyptian auspices that will involve all the Palestinian factions. [36] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Mahmoud Abu Al-Heja wrote: "I doubt that even one person still believes or hopes that dialogue can lead to a settlement concerning the coup in Gaza... Hamas is determined to break away and pursue its plan to create an [Islamic] emirate... What is to be done? There is no alternative to [taking] a dramatic step - though I am not sure what this step is and how it can be taken. This is the duty and responsibility of the leadership. We rely on it to take this step. [37]

The head of the Fatah bloc in the Palestinian parliament, 'Azzam Al-Ahmad, said that since Hamas has rejected all attempts at mediation, the PA has for the past several weeks been considering declaring Gaza a "rebel region" ruled by a military gang that has carried out an armed rebellion. Al-Ahmad emphasized that if a rebellion erupts in some part of a country, the legitimate government has a right to put it down by force, and to ask for assistance from whomever it sees fit. [38]

Hamas has in fact accused Fatah of perpetrating the July 25, 2008 bombing in Gaza, in which six of its activists were killed. In response to the bombing, the Hamas authorities arrested Fatah members, took over Fatah institutions, and stopped the circulation of the three major PA-affiliated papers in Gaza, while Fatah, on its part, arrested Hamas activists in West Bank. [39]

Escalation vis-à-vis Israel

In the wake of the tahdiah, Fatah officials have also escalated their positions vis-à-vis Israel. The PA leaders are apparently disappointed by the lack of achievements in the negotiations with Israel. According to the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the PA is considering three options regarding future contacts with Israel: the first is to terminate all contacts and to announce the end of the political process; the second is to unilaterally declare the establishment of a Palestinian state; and the third is to withdraw all Palestinian forces to Jericho, leaving the Palestinian cities in the hands of the Israeli army. [40] The change in the Fatah leaders' attitude is clearly reflected in a statement by Yasser 'Abd Rabbo, a senior member of the Palestinian negotiation team, who called for announcing the end of the political process." [41]

PA senior officials have also escalated their positions concerning the armed conflict with Israel. This is reflected in statements praising Samir Al-Quntar and Dalal Al-Mughrabi, who perpetrated terrorist attacks in Israel. Senior officials have also stressed that Fatah will not give up armed resistance. A July 10, 2008 communiqué by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades called to carry out bombings in response to attacks on olive trees by Jewish settlers, since "that is the only language they understand." [42] The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades group has violated the tahdiah by firing rockets at Israel.

Dr. Ibrahim Abrash, a former Hamas minister in Salam Fayadh's government, wrote: "Stopping the resistance in Gaza may be warranted, since there are no Israeli settlements or forces there, but in the West Bank the situation is different. [The West Bank] is not under siege but under occupation, and the settlements continue...

"Can we stop the resistance in the West Bank when it is still completely under occupation?... Had Hamas been a serious resistance movement, it would have stopped the resistance in Gaza the minute Sharon withdrew his forces and settlements out of there, and would have shifted its efforts to the West Bank, which [now] has a greater need for resistance and jihad." [43]

Fatah representative in Cairo Dr. Barakat Al-Farra said: "No one can claim that Fatah has relinquished the resistance, since it was [Fatah] that initiated it four and a half decades ago. [Fatah] has led the Palestinian people throughout its history, and participated in both the first and the second intifada. Fatah fighters served as fuel for the intifadas. Fatah will not give up on resistance in any form, including armed resistance, until the end of the occupation; it will use [this strategy] whenever the interests of the Palestinian people demand it.

"Fatah's strategy is clear to all: we have opted for a political process and [intend] to pursue it. If it fails, we will not put down our rifles. As the late president Abu 'Omar stated in his famous 1974 speech to the U.N. - and as Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas] reiterated in his own famous U.N. address last year - "we come bearing an olive branch [in one hand] and a rifle in the other. Fatah will carry both the olive branch - the symbol of peace - and the rifle, which is the symbol of struggle. This is our strategy today, and we will not abandon armed struggle as long as the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza continues. True, we are prepared to give peace a chance, but this is not surrender on our part. Fatah will not surrender or give up either its weapon or its struggle against the oppressing Israeli enemy." [44]

President 'Abbas, who, like Arafat before him, also heads Fatah, congratulated the families of Samir Al-Quntar and of the other released prisoners. A Fatah spokesman, Ahmad 'Abd Al-Rahman, congratulated Hizbullah and all the resistance forces on their "victory" over Israel and on the return of "the heroes of freedom, the prisoners and the martyrs [to Lebanon] - especially the great fighter Samir Al-Quntar and the martyred fighter Dalal Al-Mughrabi, who led the most glorious martyrdom operation in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict." He added: "The Fatah movement welcomes martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the sake of freedom and independence. [It] promises the Palestinian public to follow in the footsteps of these pure martyrs, and to continue the struggle until the homeland is liberated and the Palestinian state is established, with Jerusalem as its capital." [45] Fatah popular activities coordinator Akram Al-'Aydi said in a press statement: "The martyr Dalal Al-Mughrabi is a supreme symbol of struggle in the history of the Palestinian revolution." [46]

An announcement for a July, 16, 2008 Fatah rally in honor of Dalal Al-Mughrabi included the following quote from Al-Mughrabi: "Fatah taught me the meaning of struggle, of love of the homeland, and of martyrdom." [47] Palestinian Presidential Office director Rafiq Al-Husseini said at the rally: "We will never forget [Dalal's] heroic operation." [48] During a Fatah march in Rafah in honor of Dalal Al-Mughrabi, Khaled Moussa said on behalf of the movement: "Dalal was and is a pioneer of the armed struggle." [49]


A. Clauses of the Tahdiah Agreement:

1. Bilateral cessation of military actions beginning June 19, 2008.

2. The duration of the tahdiah - six months, in accordance with the Palestinian national consensus.

3. Implementation of the tahdiah - with the consent and under the sponsorship of Egypt.

4. Partial opening of the crossings several hours after the tahdiah comes into effect.

5. In the future, Egypt will work towards the implementation of the tahdiah in the West Bank.

6. In the second week of the tahdiah - a meeting between PA, Hamas, and European representatives to discuss a procedure for the opening of the Rafah crossing. [50]

B. Excerpt from Fatah Charter

Chapter One: Principles, Goals, Methods

The Movement's Basic Principles

Article 1.Palestine is part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are part of the Arab nation. Their struggle is part of its struggle.

Article 2. The Palestinian people has a natural and legitimate right over Palestine, and has an independent identity. It has an exclusive right of self-determination, and a right to lead the Palestinian cause without [being subjected to] the authority, sponsorship or guidance of any other [party]. The Palestinian people has complete sovereignty over all its lands.

Article 3. The Palestinian Revolution is the vanguard of the Arab nation in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.

Article 4. The Palestinian struggle is part of the joint worldwide struggle against Zionism, colonialism and imperialism.

Article 5. The struggle to liberate Palestine is a national pan-Arab obligation. The Arab nation will participate in this struggle with all its spiritual and material capabilities.

Article 6. We reject all plans, accords, and resolutions of the U.N. or of any country or group of countries if they deny the right of the Palestinian people to its homeland. All such [plans, accords, and resolutions] are null and void.

Article 7. The Zionist Movement is racist, colonialist, and aggressive in its ideology, goals, organization and methods of operation.

Article 8. The Israeli presence in Palestine is an aggressive Zionist invasion, serving as a colonial base of expansion and as a natural ally of colonialism and imperialism.

Article 9. Liberating and protecting the holy places [in Palestine] is an Arab, Islamic and human obligation.

Article 10. Fatah is an independent national revolutionary movement and is the vanguard of Palestinian people's revolution.

Article 11. The masses who participate in the revolution and bring about the liberation [of Palestine] are the owners of the land.


Article 12. Complete liberation of Palestine, and the eradication of the Zionist occupation state - economically, politically, militarily and culturally.

Article 13. Establishing an independent democratic state with complete sovereignty over all the Palestinian lands, with Jerusalem as its capital - a state that will protect the legitimate rights of its citizens based on justice and equality without any racial or religious discrimination.

Article 14. Setting up a progressive society that guarantees human rights and grants freedoms to all [its members].

Article 15. Active participation in achieving the Arab nation's goals of liberating its land and building an independent, progressive and united Arab society.

Article 16. Supporting all oppressed people in their struggle for self-determination and for the liberation of their homeland, in order to build a stronghold of world peace based on justice.


Article 17. Armed popular revolution is the inevitable and only way to liberate Palestine.

Article 18. Reliance on the Palestinian people, which is the vanguard of the Arab nation that is a partner in the struggle. Achieving solidarity between the Arab nation and the Palestinian Arab people by involving the Arab masses in the struggle [and forming] a united Arab front.

Article 19. Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the armed revolution is a decisive factor in the struggle for liberation. This struggle will not cease until the Zionist presence in Palestine is eradicated and Palestine liberated.

Article 20. Striving for concord among all the national forces participating in the armed struggle in order to attain national unity.

Article 21. Emphasizing the identity of the Palestinians, as a revolutionary and fighting people, in the international arena. This does not contradict the unity of destiny between the Palestinian people and the Arab nation.

Article 22. Rejecting all political solutions offered as an alternative to eradicating the Zionist occupying entity in Palestine, as well as any plan to eliminate or internationalize the Palestinian cause or to impose a mandate upon the [Palestinian] people.

Article 23. Maintaining relations with Arab countries with the aim of encouraging the positive aspects in their positions, as long as this does not affect the ongoing armed struggle and its escalation.

Article 24. Forming strong ties with all liberation movements worldwide which support our just armed struggle, in order to resist Zionism and imperialism.

Article 25. Convincing countries which allow the emigration of Jews to Palestine to put a stop to this, as a contribution to the solution to the problem.

Article 26. Keeping the Palestinian cause separate from any Arab or international conflicts and considering it to be above all controversy.

Article 27. Fatah will not interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries, and will not allow any party to interfere in its affairs or to thwart the Palestinian people's struggle for the liberation of their homeland. [51]

*C. Jacob is a research fellow at MEMRI.

[1] See appendix for the full text of the agreement.

[2] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), June 22, 2008.

[3] Al-Hayat (London), June 24, 2008.

[4], June 22, 2008.

[5], June 25, 2008.

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 20, 2008.

[7] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 22, 2008.

[8] The term "warriors' respite" in connection with the tahdiah was coined by Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mash'al.

[9] June 23, 2008.

[10] June 26, 2008.

[11] June 24, 2008.

[12] June 3, 2008.

[13] June 28, 2008.

[14] June 28, 2008.

[15] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 21, 2008.

[16] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 22, 2008.

[17], June 24, 2008.

[18] Al-Hayat (London), June 24, 2008.

[19], June 21, 2008.

[20], June 24, 2008.

[21], June 24, 2008.

[22], July 7, 2008.

[23], June 24, 2008.

[24], June 27, 2008.

[25] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 28, 2008.

[26] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 11, 2008.

[27] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), June 25, 2008.

[28], June 24, 2008.

[29] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 26, 2008.

[30], July 1, 2008.

[31], July 5, 2008. In defending its firing of rockets in response to the Nablus assassination, the Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigades declared: "This jihad operation was a natural response to the criminal assassination of Al-Quds Brigades commander in Jenin Tareq Abu Ghali and of resistance fighter Iad Khanfar... If the assassination of [our] people continues, [we] will respond forcefully, by turning Sderot and Ashkelon into ghost towns."[31] Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab said that the firing of the rockets did not mean rejection of the tahdiah. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, June 26, 2008.

[32] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), June 25, 2008.

[33] Al-Ayyam (PA), June 28, 2008.

[34] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 28, 2008.

[35] Al-Ayyam (PA), June 29, 2008.

[36] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 28, 2008.

[37] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 28, 2008.

[38] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 28, 2008.

[39], July 26, 2008.

[40] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 25, 2008.

[41] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 16, 2008.

[42], June 10, 2008.

[43] Al-Ayyam (PA), July 2, 2008.

[44] Al-Rai (Qatar), July 13, 2008. It should be noted that following the Oslo accords, Fatah did not annul or amend its charter, nor did the accords require it to do so. For the main articles of the charter, see Appendix B.

[45] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 17, 2008.

[46] (PA), July 13, 2008.

[47] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 16, 2008.

[48] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 17, 2008.

[49] Al-Ayyam (PA), July 18, 2008.

[50], June 18, 2008.

[51], May 11, 2004.

Hamas' Christian convert: I've left a society that sanctifies terror

Avi Issacharoff

A moment before beginning his supper, Masab, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, glances at the friend who has accompanied him to the restaurant where we met. They whisper a few words and then say grace, thanking God and Jesus for putting food on their plates.

It takes a few seconds to digest this sight: The son of a Hamas MP who is also the most popular figure in that extremist Islamic organization, a young man who assisted his father for years in his political activities, has become a rank-and-file Christian. "I'm now called Joseph," he says at the outset. Masab knows that he has little hope of returning to visit the Holy Land in this lifetime.

"I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he'll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity. Maybe one day I'll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God."

Nor does he attempt to hide his affection for Israel, or his abhorrence of everything representing the surroundings in which he grew up: the nation, the religion, the organization.

"Send regards to Israel, I miss it. I respect Israel and admire it as a country," he says.

"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death."

Is that the justification for the suicide attacks?

"More than that. An entire society sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists.
In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheikhs tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds.'"

And yet, in spite of the criticism of the place he left, California can't make the longings disappear.

"I miss Ramallah," he says. "People with an open mind. ... I mainly miss my mother, my brothers and sisters, but I know that it will be very difficult for me to return to Ramallah soon."

To be continued this weekend

Remember summer camp? This is how Hamas does it-today!

Palestinian children on annual vacation can choose between Hamas or Islamic Jihad summer camps, both of which boast militia-style training, Koran classes, lessons on political prisoners

Ali Waked
07.31.08, 01:45 / Israel News

In the Gaza Strip, as in Israel, children are currently in the midst of summer vacation, and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s “summer camps” are in full gear. In the past few weeks, the Palestinian groups have been holding camps throughout the strip, some of them proudly displaying rockets and other weaponry.

Hamas alone is currently conducting no less than 300 summer camps for tens of thousands of children, and the focus is on familiarizing kids with the Palestinian towns and cities destroyed in 1948, as well as instilling religious fervor in them. The camps also feature sports and military-type trainings such as crawling under barbed-wire. Hamas alone is currently conducting no less than 300 summer camps for tens of thousands of children, and the focus is on familiarizing kids with the Palestinian towns and cities destroyed in 1948, as well as instilling religious fervor in them. The camps also feature sports and military-type trainings such as crawling under barbed-wire.

Islamic Jihad has also launched its own summer camps, offering some 10,000 children activities similar to those of Hamas. The kids study passages from the Koran and participate in quizzes on religious matters, with emphasis on the required commitment to political prisoners and Palestinian land. They also learn how to hold a Qassam rocket-launcher.

An Islamic Jihad operative told Ynet that the students were not exposed to real rockets but to ones made of plastic. “In the camps we emphasize the need to unite and put an end to the internal struggles. We called them ‘unity and principle maintaining camps.’”

The third organization conducting summer camps in the Gaza Strip is United Nations Relief Association (UNRA.) Fatah is abstaining from camp operation for the second year in a row, due to the limitations placed on the movement by Hamas, as well as its meager financial resources as a result of Hamas’ takeover.

Pickens Gives New Meaning to 'Self-Government'

Steven Milloy
July 31, 2008

The more you learn about T. Boone Pickens’ plan to switch America to wind power, the more you realize that he seems willing to say and do just about anything to make another billion or two.

This column previously discussed the plan’s technical and economic shortcomings and marketing ruses. Today, we’ll look into the diabolical machinations behind it.

Simply put, Pickens’ pitch is “embrace wind power to help break our ‘addiction’ to foreign oil.” There is, however, another intriguing component to Pickens’ plan that goes unmentioned in his TV commercials, media interviews and web site -- water rights, which he owns more of than any other American. Pickens hopes that his recent $100 million investment in 200,000 acres worth of groundwater rights in Roberts County, Texas, located over the Ogallala Aquifer, will earn him $1 billion. But there’s more to earning such a profit than simply acquiring the water. Rights-of-way must be purchased to install pipelines, and opposition from anti-development environmental groups must be overcome. Here’s where it gets interesting, according to information compiled by the Water Research Group, a small grassroots group focusing on local water issues in Texas.

Purchasing rights-of-way is often expensive and time-consuming -- and what if landowners won’t sell? While private entities may be frustrated, governments can exercise eminent domain to compel sales. This is Pickens’ route of choice. But wait, you say, Pickens is not a government entity. How can he use eminent domain? Are you sitting down?

At Pickens’ behest, the Texas legislature changed state law to allow the two residents of an 8-acre parcel of land in Roberts County to vote to create a municipal water district, a government agency with eminent domain powers. Who were the voters? They were Pickens’ wife and the manager of Pickens’ nearby ranch. And who sits on the board of directors of this water district? They are the parcel’s three other non-resident landowners, all Pickens’ employees.

A member of a local water conservation board told Bloomberg News that, “[Pickens has] obtained the right of eminent domain like he was a big city. It’s supposed to be for the public good, not a private company.”

What’s this got to do with Pickens’ wind-power plan? Just as he needs pipelines to sell his water, he also needs transmission lines to sell his wind-generated power. Rights of way for transmission lines are also acquired through eminent domain -- and, once again, the Texas legislature has come to Pickens’ aid.

Earlier this year, Texas changed its law to allow renewable energy projects (like Pickens’ wind farm) to obtain rights-of-way by piggybacking on a water district’s eminent domain power. So Pickens can now use his water district’s authority to also condemn land for his future wind farm’s transmission lines.

Who will pay for the rights-of-way and the transmission lines and pipelines? Thanks to another gift from Texas politicians, Pickens’ water district can sell tax-free, taxpayer-guaranteed municipal bonds to finance the $2.2 billion cost of the water pipeline. And then earlier this month, the Texas legislature voted to spend $4.93 billion for wind farm transmission lines. While Pickens has denied that this money is earmarked for him, he nevertheless is building the largest wind farm in the world.

Despite this legislative largesse, a fly in the ointment remains.

Although Pickens hopes to sell as much as $165 million worth of water annually to Dallas alone, no city in Texas has signed up yet -- partly because they don’t yet need the water and partly because of resentment against water profiteering.

Enter the Sierra Club.

While Green groups support wind power, “the privatization of water is an entirely different thing,” says the Sierra Club. Moreover, the activist group has long opposed further exploitation of the very groundwater Pickens wants to use -- the Ogallala Aquifer.

“The source of drinking water and irrigation for Plains residents from Nebraska to Texas, the Ogallala Aquifer is one of the world's largest -- as well as one of the most rapidly dissipating… If current irrigation practices continue, agribusiness will deplete the Ogallala Aquifer in the next century,” says the Sierra Club.

In March 2002, the Sierra Club opposed the construction of a slaughterhouse in Pampa, Texas, because it would require a mere 275 million gallons per year from the Ogallala Aquifer. Yet Pickens wants to sell 65 billion gallons of water per year -- to Dallas alone. In a 2004 lamentation about local government facilitation of Pickens’ plan for the Ogallala, the Sierra Club slammed Pickens as a “junk bond dealer” who wanted to make “Blue Gold” from the Ogallala.

But while the Sierra Club can’t seem to do anything about Pickens’ influence with state legislators, they do have enough influence to make his water politically unpotable. This opposition may soon abate, however, now that Pickens has buddied up with Sierra Club president Carl Pope.

As noted last week, Pope now flies in Pickens’ private jet and publicly lauds him. The two are newly-minted “friends,” since Pope needs the famous Republican oilman to lend propaganda value to the Sierra Club’s anti-oil agenda and Pickens needs Pope to ease up on the Ogallala water opposition.

This alliance isn’t sitting well with everyone on the Left.

A writer recently observed, “… I am left asking myself why the green media have neglected [the water] aspect of Pickens’ wind-farm plans? Have we been so distracted by the prospect of Texas’ renewable energy portfolio growing by 4000 megawatts that we are willing to overlook some potentially dodgy aspects to the project?”

It shouldn’t sit well with the rest of us either. Pickens has gamed Texas for his own ends, and now he’s trying to game the rest of us, too. Worse, his gamesmanship includes lending his billionaire resources, prominent stature and feudal powers bestowed upon him by the Texas legislature to help the Greens gain control over the U.S. energy supply.

Steven Milloy publishes and He is a junk science expert, and advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

"Just Suppose"

Arlene Kushner

Political predictions are never written in stone, and certainly I make no claims that what I'm about to write here is anything other than a speculation. But I think it's a reasonably informed speculation and worth sharing...

I wrote yesterday about Netanyahu and Barak having met, and about thoughts that they might have been talking about more than defense issues.

Well, just suppose that...

Netanyahu has convinced Barak that he (Barak) will have a more solid political future if he throws the lot of Labor in with Likud rather than with Kadima. Suppose Barak is sold on the idea that the whole Kadima party is politically polluted and that something of their reputation would ultimate rub off on Labor (not that Barak himself is exactly Mr. Clean, you understand).
This notion that Likud now seeks to represent itself as the party of integrity (no laughing out there, please) is bolstered by Uzi Dayan having joined its ranks. Dayan's Tafnit party platform had a strong plank for clean government -- his endorsement of Likud is like the Seal of Good Housekeeping (for those Americans old enough to remember that).

Suppose Netanyahu has made promises to Barak about the role Labor can play in the coalition, and that Netanyahu and Barak together have decided to finish the Kadima party.

It could happen: they could do it. Without Labor, it is very unlikely that anyone at Kadima's helm would be able to put together a stable coalition.


All of this is by way of saying that it ain't over yet, and we cannot be certain how it will play out -- and certainly cannot be sure that the next government will be Kadima-led.

Haim Ramon, an Olmert mouthpiece and a deputy PM, told Army Radio this morning that Kadima's chances of forming a new coalition are very slim. While Shaul Mofaz, also speaking to Army Radio, said he thinks he has a good chance of winning the Kadima primary, and that he intends to put together a broad-based coalition for a unity government. Right now in polls on the Kadima primary Mofaz is running just a couple of points behind Livni, who previously had a major lead.

And Binyamin Netanyahu is calling for new elections, saying, "This government has reached an end and it doesn't matter who heads Kadima. They are all partners in this government's total failure."


It is apparently as I had speculated yesterday. (Making this speculation was a no-brainer, really.)

Police sources are saying that Olmert decided to step down now because “he recognized that the investigation evidence held by police is serious and solid....The investigation Friday is expected to be difficult and uncomfortable for Olmert. He will be confronted with evidence and documents that have accumulated against him, and it is a fair assumption that he already understands that this involves substantive evidence.” (Olmert is to be questioned again, this time with regard to alleged double billing for travel.)

There are actually commentators who are saying that Olmert has stepped down with dignity, doing what's right for the country. But, hey, I say he's doing what's right for Olmert, as he always does. Far better this than the possibility of being forced out after he's indicted.

What's clear is that he is without humility of any sort or a sense of responsibility for what has transpired. He is, he tells us, only a hard working and innocent man who has been set upon by enemies.


Most disconcerting is Olmert's pledge to keep working on peace negotiations. This raises the issue of exactly what would be tolerated in this country in terms of any commitments he might make to the PA when he is on his way out. We cannot let our guard down here.


Earlier this week, Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that it was highly unlikely that it would be possible to reach a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians by the end of 2008. While there were gaps on issues such as borders and refugees, he said the main sticking point was Jerusalem.

Then, a day later, Olmert announced expectation that it should be possible to reach an agreement on everything else but Jerusalem by the end of 2008, with a mechanism set in place for how to reach a Jerusalem agreement in the following year.


Yesterday the Palestinians weighed in on this. If there is no comprehensive agreement by the end of 2008, we are being told, the PA may stop negotiations. "May." I have never known a group to make so many threats, all of which turn out to be nothing but hot air.

What Abbas's chief of staff, Rafik Husseni, said was, "We will negotiate until the end of the year, and then the president will review our options."

But here's the key: "Without a deal on Jerusalem, there will not be a peace deal at all."

Ahmed Qurei, head of the negotiating team, vociferously agreed:

"There will be no peace agreement with Israel unless there's an agreement on Jerusalem. And there will be no state without Jerusalem. Olmert and the rest of the world must understand that Jerusalem is the core of the problem."

Note: "Jerusalem" means a demand for all of eastern Jerusalem, with us returning to the Green Line. This means, aside from everything else, total relinquishment of the Kotel and Har Habayit (the Temple Mount). This is not going to happen.

So the bottom line is that I don't believe Olmert is capable of signing off on a final deal with the PA before he leaves office. But he can do us damage by going on the record as being committed to things that will come to haunt us later.


Abbas made yet another threat yesterday that is a sure sign of just how precarious the position of the PA is right now. If Israel releases Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament as part of the deal to secure the release of Shalit, Abbas would dismantle the PA. This information, according to Haaretz, came as a "personal message" from Abbas delivered to our Central Command by head of the PA's civic affairs department.

Many Hamas parliamentarians were arrested by Israel after Shalit was captured and about 40 remain in our prisons. Abbas is afraid that their release would end up strengthening Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria significantly just at a time when Fatah and Hamas are embroiled in conflict.

The position that Abbas is taking on this might have the effect of weakening him on the Palestinian street, as Abbas is supposed to be working for the release of all Palestinian brothers.


There is no progress in negotiations to secure Shalit in any event, because Israel is refusing to release all of the prisoners demanded by Hamas -- not because they will strengthen Hamas civic infrastructure, but because they are terrorists. Neither will we permit the opening of the crossing at Rafah as a precondition.

But the question remains as to whether Israel might give credence to Abbas's concerns on this.


Yesterday, Khaled Abu Toameh reports, PA security was put on high alert because Hamas is threatening PA officials in Judea and Samaria -- especially in Ramallah, and the threats are being taken seriously.

Leaflets distributed by Hamas's military wing, Izzadin Kassam, targeted top PA leaders for "collaborating with Israel."

Specifically mentioned were Abbas, PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, PLO executive committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo, top Fatah officials Azzam al-Ahmed and Ahmed Abdel Rahman, and Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior adviser to Abbas.

"Collaborating with Israel": Great climate for negotiating serious "peace talks," no?


Eli Lake, writing in the NY Sun, discusses the fact that there is now likely to be a slow down in PA - Israel negotiations, which will be problematic for Rice, who is pushing for an interim document.

Lake cites David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

"Basically, Secretary Rice would like a summation document that points to the disagreements and the points of convergence between the two parties. The problem is that no political figures like to expose to the public the concessions they make in the absence of a diplomatic breakthrough....There is not much hope for such an agreed-upon document."

see my website

U.S. official: Iraqis told me WMDs sent to Syria

Former head of prisons says incarcerated ex-Saddam forces disclosed move
Posted: July 30, 2008

A former American overseer of Iraqi prisons says several dozen inmates who were members of Saddam Hussein's military and intelligence forces boasted of helping transport weapons of mass destruction to Syria and Lebanon in the three months prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Don Bordenkircher – who served two years as national director of prison and jail operations in Iraq– told WNDWMD warheads to Syria.

A smaller number of prisoners, he said, claimed "they knew the locations of the missile hulls buried in Iraq." Some of the inmates, Bordenkircher said, "wanted to trade their information for a release from prison and were amenable to showing the locations."

The prisoners were members of the Iraqi military or civilians assigned to the Iraqi military, often stationed at munitions facilities, according to Bordenkircher. He said he was told the WMDs were shipped by truck into Syria, and some ended up in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

Other Iraqi military personnel, including former top Saddam associates, have made the same claim.

In early 2006, Saddam's No. 2 Air Force officer, Georges Sada, told the New York Sun Iraq's WMDs were moved into Syria six weeks before the war started.

WND also reported in 2006 a former general and friend of Saddam who defected alleged WMDs were hidden in Syria and said the regime supported al-Qaida with intelligence, finances and munitions. Ali Ibrahim Al-Tikriti, the southern regional commander for Saddam's militia in the late 1980s, said the regime had contingency plans established as far back as the 1980s in the event either Baghdad or Damascus was taken over.

Saddam knew the U.S. eventually would come for the weapons, Al-Tikriti said at the time, and had "wanted since he took power to embarrass the West, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so." So he denied they existed and made sure they were moved into hiding, the former general said.

Among other claims, WND also reported a former U.S. federal agent and counter-terrorism specialist deployed to Iraq before the war said he waged a three-year, unsuccessful battle to get officials to search four sites where he believed the former Saddam regime buried weapons of mass destruction.

Bordenkircher said four of the Iraqi prisoners who separately offered to speak to the "right" people about Saddam's alleged transport of WMD later became involved with U.S. and Iraqi intelligence agencies.

Some prisoners said the drivers, upon return from transporting the WMDs out of Iraq, discussed the movement. They said, according to Bordenkircher, the materials shipped out would return once Iraq got "a clean bill of health from the U.N., and then the program could be kick-started easily."

Four of the prisoners – civilians attached to the Iraqi military – said they worked at the al-Muthana Chemical Industries site. They said the cargo included nitrogen mustard gas warheads for Tariq I and II missiles.

Bordenkircher said the stories of the military personnel and the civilians matched and did not contradict one another.

Bordenkircher also said prisoners confirmed al-Qaida had a presence in Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, specifically in Mosul and Kirkuk.

Iraqis under the command of Uday Hussein, one of Saddam Hussein's sons, supported the al-Qaida elements in the country with training and providing safe harbor, they said.

Bordenkircher also was a senior adviser to South Vietnam's correctional system during the war in Southeast Asia, from 1967-72. His task was to improve conditions for 80,000 civilian prisoners. The U.S. Department of Justice asked him to play a similar role in Iraq, sending him first to Baghdad's infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad in March 2006 to shut it down.

Bordenkircher previously served as Marshall County sheriff of Moundsville, W.Va., and police chief and warden of the state penitentiary at Moundsville.

Comment: We have known this for years, it has been reported for years, it will make no difference. The media and pundits dismiss each and every account. They continue to use the tired and worn -out mantra: "Bush lied, there were no WMD's". We, who know, are partly to blame. We have mistakenly thought that all that was needed was to state the data once-we do not, to this day, jump all over friends, family members, colleagues, pundits, news media officials who continue to chant nonsense-stand up and fight back!