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December 22, 2009

A7News: ‘Forum of 7’ Sends Decision on Shalit Deal to Hamas

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Tuesday, Dec 22 ’09, Tevet 5, 5770
Decision Sent to Mediator After a difficult night, the "Forum of Seven" ministers sent its decision on a swap deal for hostage soldier Gilad Shalit to the German mediator.mini_0.jpg Today`s Email Stories:
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1. ‘Forum of 7’ Sends Decision on Shalit Deal to Hamas
by Hana Levi Julian and Gil Ronen Decision Sent to Mediator

After four hours of difficult talks that ended after midnight, the "Forum of Seven" cabinet of select ministers tasked with coming to a decision on whether to accept the latest prisoner swap offer from Hamas terrorists sent its response to the German mediator, Ernst Uhrlau.

The intense discussions had been conducted as the Shalit family and protestors for and against the proposed deal were picketing outside the Prime Minister’s Office.

The ministers’ response will be handed by Uhrlau to Hamas on Tuesday, according to an anonymous source close to the negotiations quoted by the Reuters news agency. It appears that Netanyahu has agreed to release the terrorist murderers demanded by Hamas – but not to Judea and Samaria. This negates a major condition of Hamas, leaving the ball in the terrorist organization’s court.

The "Forum of Seven," led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud), includes Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Our Home), Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor (Likud), Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor), Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), and Minister Without Portfolio Dr. Binyamin Begin (Likud). The latter three have basically opposed the deal, leaving Netanyahu with the decisive vote.

Aviva Shalit, mother of the abducted soldier, told reporters Monday night that a vote not to accept the deal would be a death sentence for her son. Asked if he was optimistic after meeting with the Prime Minister, Shalit’s father Noam said that he was “still not in an optimistic state, but not pessimistic either.”

The evening also saw a tense encounter outside the Prime Minister’s Office between Netanyahu’s brother-in-law, Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi, and the Shalits. Ben-Artzi is vehemently opposed to the proposed deal and has repeatedly called on his brother-in-law to stand firm and refuse to release the terrorist murderers.

“We, too, want you to be strong,” Ben-Artzi told Noam Shalit, “but we will release Gilad in the next war.” When asked by Shalit when he thought that might be, Ben-Artzi replied, “In the next two to six months.”
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2. Ayalon: The Realization of Zionism: Strengthening the Periphery
by Arutz Sheva TV Strengthening the Periphery

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon spoke with Arutz Sheva TV about the Knesset’s special events day he initiated today (Tuesday) on the theme of "The Realization of Zionism: Strengthening the Periphery."

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Various issues relating to strengthening Zionism are being addressed, especially as they relate to the Galilee and the Negev. Representatives of the Interior Committee, the Constitution Law and Justice Committee, the Absorption Committee, the Economics Committee and the Education, Culture and Sports Committee will take part, and Ayalon will speak on the topic from the Knesset plenum.

Deputy Minister Ayalon told the Knesset Legislation Committee on Tuesday that Jewish presence should be strengthened in the Negev and other peripheral areas to take control of local lands and to counter Arab occupation.

Arab MK Jamal Zahalka of the Balad National Democratic Assembly called Ayalon’s Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party "racist," to which Ayalon responded, "We are a Jewish state by virtue of our rights here."
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3. Bereaved Siblings to Netanyahu: Don’t Let Us Down
by Hillel Fendel Siblings to PM:Don't Let Us Down

A group of people who have lost siblings to Palestinian terrorists or in war have written to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – who himself similarly lost a brother – asking him not to release 1,000 terrorists in exchange for abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

One of the bereaved siblings, Bentzi Ben-Shoham, whose sister Limor was murdered along with 10 others in the March 2002 attack at Café Moment in Jerusalem, spoke with Arutz-7’s Hebrew news magazine about the letter and about his relationship with the activists working in favor of the release.

Netanyahu, who in these hours and days in the throes of the life-and-death decision-making process regarding Shalit and the terrorists, lost his brother Yonatan in July 1976. Yoni, as he was known, commanded the operation to rescue over 100 hostages held in Uganda, and was the only Israeli soldier killed during the raid; three hostages and all of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist abductors were also killed.

"If the Prime Minister gives in to the Hamas dictates," Ben-Shoham said, "the release of terrorists will be not only his own personal surrender, but that of all of us… Someone who murdered an entire family – can such a thing be freed from prison?"

At the same time, Ben-Shoham feels a sense of obligation towards Gilad Shalit, the young soldier who was kidnapped and has been held captive by Hamas for three and a half years. "Gilad must be returned," Ben-Shoham said, adding that he had helped the pro-Shalit activists in their protest tent.

"I have talked with Gilad’s father Noam several times over the past few months," he said, "and he himself said that he understands me – even if he doesn’t agree. Karnit Goldwasser [whose husband Ehud was kidnapped and murdered by Hizbullah terrorists in 2006 – ed praised me as well."

Arguments in the protest tent were never rancorous or hostile, Ben-Shoham said. "There is always mutual respect and understanding. One extreme argument happened when we discussed the idea of public protests, which I said encouraged Hamas to raise its price for Gilad. I told them that their activities for Gilad should be done quietly."

The letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu states as follows: Your brother sacrificed that which is most precious in order to defend the State of Israel against the drift towards giving in to terrorism. Your brother’s death was necessary, just as is that of any other soldier whom we have sent to battle instead of simply giving in to the enemies’ ‘demands.’

Mr. Netanyahu, if you choose to give in to terrorism, what is the meaning of your brother Yoni’s life? What is the meaning of the risks that he took upon himself, and that many other soldiers and families took upon themselves?

… For many years, you have been the steadfast rock upon which is based the opposition to giving in to terrorism. [Netanyahu is the author of some of the first books on the topic – ed If you fall, who will be able to stand up to terrorism? And who will be to blame for the rivers of blood that will be spilled here as a result – our own blood, and that of our children?

Please do not let us down. Do not disappoint your nation and those who voted for you.

Sincerely, Bereaved siblings of the Almagor Terror Victims Association
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4. As Cabinet Mulls Deal, Study Says Abduction is a Strategy
by Gil Ronen Study: Abduction is a Strategy

Palestinian Media Watch researchers published a study Monday finding that Israel’s policy of releasing large numbers of terrorist prisoners in exchange for its abducted soldiers has turned the abductions into a strategic weapon.

The publication coincides with a day in which Israeli media attention is riveted to the Prime Minister’s Office, where another possible terrorist release is being mulled. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met abducted soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit’s parents early Monday afternoon. At 8:00 PM, the cabinet’s Forum of Seven is scheduled to hold another session in the marathon series of debates it has been holding since Sunday, to reach a decision in the negotiations for Shalit’s release. Shalit’s father estimated that a decision in favor or against the deal would be reached soon.

Preparing for the next abduction

PMW researchers Itamar Marcus, Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Barbara Crook collected more than 50 reports that appeared in Palestinian Authority media between 2004 – when Israel released 400 terrorists in the Tenenbaum deal – and December 2009.

"The release of terrorists by Israel is not perceived by Palestinian society as only the final phase in a bargaining process, but as the first step in the preparation for the next abduction,” they wrote. "There is support for abductions among all Palestinian factions and within the Palestinian leadership, both Fatah and Hamas. Over six years’ time, abduction for bargaining has turned from a tactic into a strategy because of Israel’s willingness to release terrorists.”

The Tenebaum deal led Palestinian spokesmen from both Fatah and Hamas to express support and admiration for Hizbullah. They saw it as a precedent and announced that the release turned abduction into a model for future operations.

In early 2006, senior PA officials made repeated calls for abduction of Israelis. In June of that year, Shalit was captured. A short time later, soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were attacked and abducted into Lebanon. Their bodies were eventually returned in exchanged for Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, four other Lebanese terrorists and the remains of another 197 terrorists. This deal, too, was met with praise in Palestinian media.
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5. 1st-Time Discovery of 2nd-Temple Dwelling in Nazareth
by Hana Levi Julian 2nd Temple-Era Home in Nazareth

The remains of a dwelling from the last days of the Second Temple have been uncovered in the heart of the city of Nazareth. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed the remains of the ancient residential area in the northern Israeli Arab city for the first time to reporters on Monday.

The structure was exposed during a small-scale excavation that was carried out on a nearby church property in light of municipal plans to build in the area.

Archaeologists uncovered in the excavation a large broad wall dating to the Mamluk period (15th century CE) that was built on top of, and “utilizing” the walls of, an ancient building. This earlier building consisted of two rooms and a courtyard which contained a rock-hewn cistern for rainwater. Few artifacts were recovered from inside the building, most of which included fragments of pottery vessels from the early Roman period (1st and 2nd centuries CE).

Proof of a Jewish presence was found in several fragments of chalk (stone) vessels that were discovered. Such vessels were only used by Jews during this period, because such vessels were not susceptible to becoming ritually impure.

A hewn pit, whose entrance was apparently camouflaged, was also exposed. According to IAA exacavation director Yardenna Alexandre, the pit may have been prepared by the local Jews “to protect themselves during the Great Revolt against the Romans in 67 CE.”

The nearby church itself was built in 1969 on the spot the Catholic faith identifies with the house of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and rests on the remains of three earlier churches, the oldest of which is ascribed to the Byzantine period (4th century CE).

“The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period,” observed Alexandre. “From the few written sources that exist, we know that in the first century CE, Nazareth was a small Jewish village located inside a valley. Up to now, a number of tombs… were found in Nazareth, but no settlement remains have been discovered that were attributed to this period.”

The “Association Mary of Nazareth” intends to conserve and present the remains of the newly discovered house inside the building planned for the International Marian Center of Nazareth, the city where Jesus and his family lived during the period the discovered dwelling stood.
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6. Global Anti-Israel Protests Expected on ‘Cast Lead’ Anniversary
by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz New Global Anti-Israel ProtestsThe first anniversary of Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Cast Lead in Gaza is set to be a catalyst for a series of anti-Israel protests worldwide. A mass march to the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel is to include several Western VIPs.

From December 27 through early January, the dates of Operation Cast Lead last year, international pro-Palestinian groups are set to hold "Gaza Freedom Marches" in North America, Europe and Israel. The Gaza Freedom March in Hamas-controlled Gaza itself is slated for December 31. Organizers of the latter event are expecting around 50,000 local participants, with over 1,000 from more than 40 countries, to converge on the Erez Crossing and demand it be opened to free movement by Palestinian Authority residents into Israel.

According to the Gaza march organizers, participants will include: French legislator Alima Boumediene-Thiery; author and Filipino parliament member Walden Bello; former European parliamentarians Luisa Morgantini from Italy and Eva Quistorp from Germany; Japan’s former ambassador to Lebanon Naoto Amaki; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker; President of the US Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Michael Ratner; and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. Among the marchers will be various sectoral groups as well, including a women’s delegation, a Jewish contingent, NGOs, a veterans group and Arabs from abroad with family in Gaza.

The marchers leaving from a point in northern Gaza are to meet up with a group of Arabs and Jews on the Israel side of the Erez Crossing. In what they are billing as a nonviolent event, the protesters will call on Israel to open the border to unfettered travel.

Researchers from the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR) expect "protests and marches by anti-Israel, Islamist and far-left activist groups in various population centers worldwide." Additionally, ITRR analysts cautioned, everything from petty vandalism and "direct action" sabotage, through armed "lone-wolf" attacks on Jewish and Israeli institutions may be inspired by events during this period.
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7. CIA Linked to Palestinian Authority Torture
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu CIA Linked to PA Torture

The CIA is aware of, if not helping, PA “special forces” to torture prisoners and terrorists, mainly those of the rival Hamas faction, the London Guardian reports. The use of torture by both the Fatah and Hamas factions has been well-documented in the past, but this is the first time that the United States has been directly linked with the practice.

A PA minister responded to the report that torture “happens all the time in every country in the world.”

The Bush and Obama administrations have pumped tens of millions of dollars directly into the fledgling PA army, trained by U.S. Army General Keith Dayton. The American Congress several days ago approved a new foreign aid package that for the first time includes the PA and awards it half a billion dollars, on condition that it halt terror and incitement and that it formally recognizes the State of Israel.

It now appears that some of the American funding for the PA has been used by the CIA to work with PA forces, some of whom routinely use torture, despite orders signed last year by U.S. President Barack Obama prohibiting torture of those in American custody. Human rights groups have not charged the CIA with authorizing or teaching torture, but they also have not ruled it out.

They accuse the agency of turning a blind eye instead, rather than ordering PA forces to cease the practice. At least one diplomat said that the CIA is aware of the use of torture.

The Guardian reported, “The relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved – Preventive Security Organization (PSO) and General Intelligence Service (GI) – is said by some Western diplomats and other officials in the region to be so close that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians’ work.”

PA human rights groups have documented several deaths of victims of PA torture, such as forced sleeplessness and victms being forced into staying in painful positions for lengthy periods of time.

Sa’id Abu-Ali, Interior Minister for the PA, admitted to the Guardian that the “Americans help us” but denied they supervise the PA forces. The CIA also denied it supervises PA forces but conceded its operatives work with the PA. Concerning the use of torture, Abu-Ali declared, “[Abuse happen in every country in the world.“

Ibrahim Hewitt, senior editor of the Middle East Monitor, wrote that he is concerned by the report and that the Interior Minister is “in the government regarded as the "moderates" by the U.S., Europe and Britain.”

Last year, the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group released a report that documented 14 years of extra-judicial brutality under the Palestinian Authority, with the direct and explicit support of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.
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