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|Thursday, Jan 21 ’10, Shevat 6, 5770|
1. Netanyahu: Israel Must Surround PA Entity
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says that Israel will have to encircle any new Arab entity in Judea and Samaria, in order to prevent rocket smuggling.
Speaking with foreign reporters on Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said that Israel must ensure "an efficient way, at the entry and exit points, to stop rockets from being smuggled into the territories close to Israel."
“This will require an Israeli presence on the eastern side of the Palestinian state,” the prime minister continued. “I don’t know how it will be executed, but it has to happen.”
Netanyahu has long held that Israel must control the Jordan Valley, which is the eastern edge of Judea and Samaria, in any future peace arrangement with the Palestinian Authority. He has similarly said that any future PA state must be demilitarized.
Netanyahu to Abbas: Get Down From Tree Already
The prime minister called yet again for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to enter into resumed negotiations with Israel without conditions: “They must get down off the tree. They climbed up a high tree, and they like it there. The more ladders they are brought, the higher they climb up.”
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat ignored Netanyahu’s calls for a resumption of talks, but said, “Netanyahu is once again trying to set facts on the ground by himself.”
2. Elon: Real Danger to Jerusalem as Israel’s Undivided Capital
Leading PA and Norwegian diplomats met for a high-level meeting in Jerusalem on Monday, prompting concern on the part of some Israelis regarding the future of the Israeli capital. The meeting was held in an eastern Jerusalem hospital on Mt. of Olives, with the participation of Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Rafik Husseini of chairman Abbas’ office, PA Jerusalem minister Ahmed A-Rawidi, and others.
Nine years ago, in August 2001, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the closure of the PA eastern Jerusalem headquarters in Orient House. One of the leaders of the campaign to do so, then-MK Benny Elon, now says this move is in danger of being overturned.
In fact, some Quartet representatives suggested this week that the Orient House and other PA institutions in eastern Jerusalem be reopened as yet another enticement to the PA to resume talks with Israel.
Benny Elon, who served as Tourism Minister from 2001 to 2004, says the developments are “critically dangerous.”
“This is the big test of the Netanyahu government,” Elon told Arutz-7, “and I hope he reads the signals. Jerusalem is the heart of our state, and there cannot be any compromise. Yes, the Orient House was closed, there has been massive Jewish building in nearby neighborhoods such as Shimon HaTzaddik and Nissan Beck [purchased by Jews in 1874, opposite Damascus Gate – ed – but all this is worthless if the Palestinians take over buildings in the eastern part of the city and operate their institutions from there.”
‘American Policy: Eastern Jerusalem for PA’
“The PA’s desire to make Jerusalem the capital of Palestine is becoming an increasingly acute danger,” Elon said. “There are several foreign consulates near the Orient House, and particularly the American consulate which focuses on Arabs, while the American consulate in the other side of Jerusalem serves Israelis – and they operate with a clear policy that eastern Jerusalem will become the capital of Palestine, Heaven forbid. The danger is very real, and we must take action immediately.”
‘PA Stubborness on Jerusalem is to Our Benefit’
“[Special Mideast envo George Mitchell is working quietly and wisely towards recognition of a Palestinian state,” Elon warned, “while Netanyahu is very weak in this area. He has already offered recognition of a [demilitari Palestinian state, for the first time in Likud history, and the dangers that it will actually come to pass are very real. Our only chance is that the Palestinians are holding out for Jerusalem – and we must therefore be very strong here. Netanyahu is not strong regarding Judea and Samaria, and is not strong regarding a Palestinian state – but I believe that he is strong concerning Jerusalem, and he must prove it, immediately.”
‘Worse than the Destruction of 20 Towns’
“I hope that our public is smart enough to realize that the policy of ‘another house and another dunam’ is not enough. We saw how, with one misguided political decision, they erased 20 flowering communities from the face of the earth. The existential dangers that Israel will face if a Palestinian state is formed with Jerusalem as its capital in any shape or form are greater than if 20 communities were to be destroyed, Heaven forbid.”
‘Ben Gurion’s Approach is Out of Date’
Elon emphasized that we must recognize the concrete dangers of diplomacy and diplomatic decisions: “We wake up sometimes when the bulldozers are about to knock down a house, but the decisions to send the bulldozers were made long before. Some of our politicians still adhere to the Ben Gurion approach of ‘U-N, Shmu-en,’ and that ‘it doesn’t matter what the goyim say, but rather what the Jews do’ – all this has been proven wrong in Gush Katif and elsewhere. We must wake up and read the signals and realize that the talks leading to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital are advancing all the time. I call on Cabinet ministers like Uzi Landau, Gideon Saar and others who have shown great loyalty to Jerusalem to fight this battle and understand that we have a virus here that can be overcome only when it is still small.”
3. Fighting Terrorism: Britain Ends Flights from Yemen
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on Wednesday the immediate suspension of direct flights from Yemen to London – because of terrorism fears.
Brown also announced a series of other air travel security-enhancing features, including the creation of a new no-fly list, the expand of its million-name "watch list," and the introduction of controversial full-body scanning machines in UK airports.
"We have agreed with Yemenia airlines, pending enhanced security, that they suspend their [two weekl direct flights to the UK from Yemen, with immediate effect," Brown said.
The prime minister, speaking in Parliament, described Yemen as "an incubator and potential safe haven" for terrorism. He said that British officials are meeting with their Yemeni counterparts in Yemen’s capital Sana’a in order to improve security.
A Yemenia spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that Britain had demanded that London-bound flights from Yemen stop in either Paris or Cairo for extra security checks, including unloading the plane of both passengers and luggage.
The Associated Press reports that security officials believe that three-quarters of the terrorist plots against the United Kingdom are planned in the western border regions of Pakistan. Yemen, too, is known to be an unwitting host to many Al-Qaeda cells. The recent attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner was carried out by a Nigerian student believed to have been radicalised in Yemen.
4. Barak Signs Ariel College Upgrade to University
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has reportedly given his stamp of approval to an upgrading of the status of the Judea and Samaria College in Ariel, to that of a “university center.” After two years in this interim status, the authorities will decide whether to give the institution full university status, thus making it the first university in Judea and Samaria.
Coming at a time in which authorities are cracking down on construction in Judea and Samaria, the move can be seen as sending a conciliatory message to the Jews in these areas.
Sources in Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Our Home party took credit for pressuring Barak into making the decision. “We congratulate the city of Ariel which, today, became a city with a formally recognized university,” they said. “As Israel Our Home promised when the government was established, in accordance with the coalition agreement, Ariel College is turning into a university less than one year into the government’s term.”
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) congratulated Ariel College for the change in status, which he said it should have received five years ago. He threw some cold water on the celebrations, however, when he asked whether the Defense Minister “would allow the university to construct new classrooms for the students who were bound to join it now” – a reference to the ongoing construction freeze.
The rector of the college, former MK Cohen-Orgad, said that the college has been functioning as a university for years from the point of view of research, publications, faculty and level of study so that this recognition was well deserved.
The National Union’s Chairman, MK Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz, said that “the progress of the Nation of Israel is stronger than all those who weaken it. Barak’s recognition of Ariel College as a university is what the Jewish Sages defined as ‘a bad angel says amen in spite of himself.’”
5. Knesset Speaker Rivlin and MK Eldad to Be ‘Tried’ in Jordan
The Jordanian prosecution authorities have given the green light to a criminal proceeding in Jordan’s courts against Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and MK Aryeh Eldad. They are being charged with endangering of the sovereignty of the Hashemite Kingdom by saying that Jordan is the Palestinian state.
The charges were brought by four lawyers who contend that Rivlin and Eldad called for turning Jordan into the Palestinian state and creating a ‘Larger Israel’ on both banks of the Jordan River.
The plaintiffs said that the statements by Rivlin and Eldad endanger Jordan, and can thus be prosecuted according to Section 118 of the Jordanian Criminal Law. They note that Jordanian law applies to foreign citizens who attempt to damage the country’s sovereignty.
A court date for the proceeding has not been set.
The Israeli Ambassador to Jordan was reprimanded by the Jordanian Foreign Minister in May 2009, when MK Eldad made his statement. Eldad was unrepentant, however, and repeated his claim: “Jordan is Palestine, period.”
About 70% of Jordan’s population is Palestinian but the kingdom is ruled by the Hashemite minority. Both present-day Israel and present-day Jordan were included in the British Palestine Mandate after World War I, but the British gave 80% of the territory — then known as Transjordan — to the Arabs, and advocated the partition of the rest of the land between Arabs and Jews.
6. Bomb Scare at Munich Airport, Suspect Flees
Terminal 2 in Germany’s Munich airport was shut down Wednesday after a man whose laptop triggered an alarm for explosives fled with the device.
Over 100 outbound planes were prevented from departing the airport, with flights to Munich that were waiting to take off being grounded for hours around the world.
Officials were quick to offer possibilities excluding a terror attempt.
German federal police spokesman Albert Poerschke told a local news agency that the alarm "doesn’t necessarily have to mean that there were explosives inside."
A special unit of police sniffer dogs and 200 police officers sought the mysterious man for over three hours before the hunt was called off.
Poerschke listed various possibilities as to what had happened, none of which were that the man – who reportedly carried only hand luggage – had attempted to bring explosives onto a plane. Among the options: "the man didn’t realize there were more checks to come," "it’s possible that the passenger was in a big rush and he didn’t hear, or didn’t want to hear" the alarm, he may have had to "just run to his flight," or the explosive scare may have been a false alarm, according to Poerschke. Yet another reason presented for the alarm is that other chemical substances, like perfume, set it off.
The terminal – which is used for flights to European Union countries, and does not require passengers to present passports – was closed at 3:30pm and reopened at 6:42pm local time.
It is not clear how the man escaped despite the fact that airports worldwide have beefed up security in the wake of a recent attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Michigan on December 25.
7. HAZMAT Exercise Simulated Smallpox Terror Attack
The emergency exercise by the security forces and health system last week simulated a smallpox attack by terrorists, Haaretz reported Wednesday. The participants were asked to respond to an imaginary scenario in which terrorists carrying the smallpox virus had disguised themselves as European tourists, and purposely passed through crowded places in order to infect as many people as possible.
Scores of representatives from dozens of countries took part in the exercise. One of the scenarios rehearsed involved an imaginary purchase of tens of thousands of medicines against the illness.
The fire department of Tel Aviv took part in the exercise along with the fire departments of Herzliya, K’far Sava and Petach Tikva.
The exercise simulated the infection of about 1,000 people with the virus. The ‘identification and cleansing’ crews and the medical staff were not told in advance what biological material they would be facing.
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