It’s just aout three weeks since an Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem utilized a heavy tractor to overturn buses and cars in a terrorist attack in the heart of Jerusalem.
Today another driver of a tractor left his construction site in Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe neighborhood and drove onto King David Steet, apparently seeking to recreate this terrorist incident. He attempted to overturn a bus and crashed into several cars, overturning one. Eyewitnesses said he also tried to lower the blade of his equipment on the head of a passerby but just missed. At least sixteen people were injured, one seriously, before he was shot dead, apparently in a combined effort by a civilian and police, as he neared Gan Hapa’amon (Liberty Bell Park), at the intersection of King David Street and Keren Hayasod. Street.
It is reported that the terrorist was Hassan Abu-Tir, a resident of the Umm Tuba neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem, and possessor of an Israeli identity card. Hassan is a relative of the Hamas parliament member Muhammad Abu-Tir, who is being held in Israeli prison.
Passage to eastern Jerusalem was reportedly blocked for a period as the police were seeking two additional individuals. Perhaps more information will follow in the next day or so.
Barack Obama is here in Israel now and all of this occurred about half a block from the King David Hotel, where he will be staying tonight. I might hope that this would help bring home to Obama the situation that we are living with.
Tonight a press conference was held in Jerusalem by the Coalition for a United Jerusalem, which consists of the American Israeli Action Committee, the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel, Emunah Women, Rabbinical Council of America in Israel, Worldwide Young Israel Movement, and Zionist Organization of America.
These groups — all American organizations with representation in Israel — took advantage of Senator Obama’s presence in Jerusalem to raise serious questions about his position on Jerusalem.
In his recent speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Public Policy Conference, Obama said, “Let me be clear…Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” (“Undivided” is a code word universally understood to mean that it would remain exclusively under Israeli sovereignty.)
Within days he had backtracked, explaining that what he meant when he said “undivided” was simply that the city shouldn’t again be divided by barbed wire as it was between 1949 and 1967. He suggested that there was room for Palestinian sovereignty in the city as well. In a CNN interview, he said he thought a good “starting point” for negotiations was the Clinton plan advanced at Taba in 2000, which called for a divided city, but actually was subsequently taken off the table.
Now the Coalition publicly called upon Obama to:
— Reaffirm his original remarks made at the AIPAC Conference.
— Disavow his subsequent retraction.
— Declare that security and access to all holy places can only be guaranteed by Israeli sovereignty.
— Acknowledge that Israeli withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza have led to destabilization and increased terror, and that this presages a similar deterioration likely to occur in eastern Jerusalem if Israel were to withdraw and turn the area over to Fatah, which would like be usurped by Hamas.
— Take immediate steps to introduce a more balanced and pro-Israel perspective by appointing a number of foreign policy advisors who are more likely to consider an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Past and present formal and informal advisors to Obama in his campaign offer an extremely one-sided “pressure Israel” view predisposed to rejecting the possibility of a unified Jerusalem.
All of the salient points were made during the course of this press conference regarding why Jerusalem should remain undivided:
Issues of security if half of the city were to be in the hands of Fatah or Hamas, which would be able to shoot at western Jerusalem.
Religious issues regarding our right to retain control of our holiest site, which the Palestinians are eager to usurp.
The long-standing tradition of Jerusalem as a Jewish city, going back 3,000 years.
The affront to Israel of not allowing her to determine her capital without challenge, when no other nation is similarly challenged. Connected to this, the fact that the vast majority of Israelis is opposed to division of the city.
The actual logistical impossibility of dividing the city, as Arab and Jewish neighborhoods are intertwined.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to town to visit on Sunday and addressed the Knesset yesterday, the first British prime minister to do so. He attempted to begin and end with a phrase in Hebrew. He described himself as a life-long friend of Israel and described his father’s ardent support for our nation. He praised Israel’s achievements “in the face of the war, terror and violence, intimidation and insecurity” as “”truly monumental,” saying they represented a “boundless capacity of mind and spirit.” He pledged to fight academic boycotts of Israel inside of Britain.
“Let me tell the people of Israel today,” he declared, “Britain is your true friend.”
And then… then he advised those gathered that “peace is within your grasp.” This peace would be founded upon “a two-state solution based on 1967 borders,” with “Jerusalem the capital for both,” a “just and agreed settlement for refugees” and “freezing and withdrawing from settlements.”
They do it every time. This is the mantra, with every single “friendly” visitor seeming to consider it de rigeur to make this pronouncement. It was not enough for Brown to say we need to make accommodations with the Palestinians in order to achieve peace, that we must negotiate flexibly to that end. He had to spell it out — ’67 borders (they were armistice lines, Mr. Prime Minister, not borders), sharing of Jerusalem and all. These are issues that are supposed to be negotiated, yet he has determined the outcome already.
The problem is that the Palestinians have convinced the world that they have a right to these things and that justice won’t be done unless they receive them. Many of the world’s leaders don’t give a damn about us at all and are eager to accommodate Arabs. But even those professing friendship have conveniently convinced themselves that if only this can be achieved peace will be possible, and take it upon themselves to advise us of this.
Prime Minster Brown should be told that true friends don’t ask friends to surrender their ancient heritage and box themselves into a non-defensible position.
I — with others — have been speaking for some time about the need for a change in the paradigm of thinking in the Western world with regard to this issue. It’s time for recognizing that the notion of a Palestinian state is failed: That in 14 years the PA has not built necessary civic and economic infrastructure and does not provide equal rights under the law, or freedoms of speech or press or basic human dignity. That the PA is thoroughly allied with terrorism. The “moderate” Abbas rejoiced for Kuntar’s release, for heaven’s sake!
The notion of a Palestinian state is ridiculous on the face of it. And yet the world will not let this go.
Unfortunately, it’s harder to tell the world this when we have Olmert as prime minister. He held a joint press conference with Brown and, while he defended our need for settlements, announced that he believes that there can be an agreement with the PA by the end of 2008 and that we are “closer than ever.”
The days of Olmert as prime minister, howev
er, are numbered. After considerable infighting, the Kadima party has changed its constitution so that an early primary is permitted. A date — presumably in September — now must be set for the party leadership contest.
In response to some of the fierce internal Kadima fighting that went on with regard to this, Olmert reportedly referred to Livni as a “backstabbing liar.”
While an unnamed Kadima MK said, “Olmert is a corpse that has already started to stink and he needs to be removed as soon as possible.”
As to the possibility of an indictment of Olmert, we’re being by State Attorney Moshe Lador that a decision on this will be coming soon. The body of evidence being gathered against Olmert would soon be handed over to Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz, who will make the final decision.
The cross examination of Talansky is still in process, but daily more questions are raised about his reliability as a witness, as he “forgets” things he knew before, or professes confusion as to why he said what he did before, or just contradicts himself.
The state’s case is not built exclusively on his testimony however, as Israeli investigators went to the US to garner documentation and further testimony. And there is as well the question of Messer’s willingness to talk.
Besides which, there is the new issue of alleged double billing of non-profits for Olmert’s trips, with excess funds having gone for his private use.
I cannot predict how this will play out. There is a strong desire in many quarters to see true justice done. Very clearly, at a minimum, Olmert is finished in politics because his associates and the nation have heard enough. The statement about his being a corpse that has started to stink says it all.
Case after case has been cited of leaders who resigned because of legal or even complex political difficulties. Even Nixon was evoked in this regard the other day — Nixon having had the sense to say that his remaining in power while he fought the accusations against him would distract the nation from important business. Only Olmert has hung on despite everything, and to hell with the nation.
Whether he will be held legally accountable for his various doings remains to be seen.
Al-Hayat in London reported today that according to an Egyptian source — Egypt being the go-between in negotiations on Shalit — Marwan Barghouti is among the 70 prisoners that Israel has so far agreed to release in exchange for Shalit. This would be another huge error — another victory for terrorist forces that makes a mockery of Israeli justice. To the best of my knowledge this has not yet been confirmed by other sources.
Barghouti, a Fatah leader, founder of the Tanzim and major instigator of the first Intifada, is serving five life sentences. As the man who gave his blessing to a 2002 terrorist attack on a Bat Mitzvah party that killed six and wounded 30, he is just one more evil being who should never see the light of day. He would surely be recidivist, returning to terrorism as a leader.
In spite of Hamas demands, however, it is being said that Israel has refused to release Popular Front Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat, who was involved in the assassination of Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.
In any event, the Egyptian source is saying that Hamas will not release Shalit unless Israel agrees to all 450 names that have been passed via Egypt. The full demand is for 1,000 prisoners, but it is 450 names that are critical to Hamas. If Israel has only agreed to 70, there are many other names besides Saadat that are being refused.
Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin reported to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today that Hamas has taken advantage of the “ceasefire” to plant mines across widespread areas of Gaza.
(Sounds to me not only that we should have gone in before this happened, but that when we ultimately do, which, one assumes, eventually we will, there will have to be more air operations.)
Diskin additionally reported that the smuggling of weapons into Gaza has continued without letup, as well, and that the group has rockets that can reach Kiryat Gat and likely Ashdod. As Hamas is gaining strength during this time, it has a vested interest in maintaining the “quiet.”
Diskin is opposed to the “ceasefire,” and says that we need a presence inside of Gaza in order to combat terrorism. He is also opposed to the release of Barghouti.