I begin by providing the link to an article of mine on Rice and Carter that just went up on Front Page Magazine today:
This is one time when I ask, please, that it be distributed broadly. A lot of people still don’t know about Carter.
Perhaps the best news I heard today was that Condoleezza Rice, who is arriving here on Saturday night, has now said she will not be bringing invitations to the conference. This is after an earlier statement that she would be. A sure sign that things are not moving smoothly.
The US isn’t even sure yet if Saudi Arabia will come.
Also on the plus side is the statement by Israeli head negotiator, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, that there would be no timetable on negotiations. This is in face of the insistence by her counterpart, Ahmed Qurei, that there had to be a deadline for finalizing negotiations.
On the other hand, there are matters that are thoroughly infuriating. Enraging, actually. Seems "US officials" are letting Israel know that we are expected to remove "illegal" settlements before the conference. Actually the message was that Washington had invested a lot of political capital in the process and the parties were now expected to deliver. You like that? The US is eager to see Israel provide an appearance of "giving."
As the Road Map is presumably the way we’re supposed to be going to be going in negotiations, Barak and Fayyad — joined by Gen. Dayton — will be meeting to see how phase I of this plan can be implemented. It is with an eye to this that the settlements are being mentioned.
The Palestinians are saying they’ve made good progress recently in disarming some "operatives." This is supposed to qualify as their commitment to phase I, which actually calls for "an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere."
However, complain the Palestinians, "Israel has done little so far." Thus the Americans are expecting us to take down some settlements, presumably in line with Phase I as well.
At any rate, a representative of the prime minister’s office says there certainly isn’t time to do any dismantlement before the conference. The simple fact is that if the government attempts to do this, there will be a considerable outcry and resistance.
I’ve alluded to this before: "illegal" settlement is a political term as much as a legal one; the situation is far more complicated than the term would imply, with all settlements having some legal sanction but some missing a part of their documentation.
Now Defense Minister Barak has indicated that no settlements would be dismantled before next year, as there were currently on-going negotiations with settlers. In some instances, there is the hope that settlers will leave voluntarily. However, it was also announced that "the ministry has began a series of meetings with the settlers’ leaders, in an effort to reach a joint solution as to the outposts’ status." What does this mean? Some of the so-called illegal settlements may be legalized.
Also heartening was the signing by 53 members of the Knesset of a petition calling on the government "to honor the ‘right of purchase’ of Jews in the city of the Patriarchs, and to allow Jewish settlement in those homes and lands which were purchased for their ‘full price.’"
This is a significant step towards securing rights for Jews in Hebron, who are harassed by government actions.
As the petition states:
"Hebron is the city of the Forefathers of the Jewish people, the commencement of the monarchy, where Jewish settlement is anchored both by ancient historic privilege, and also by government decisions and recent international agreements. Mass visits of hundreds of thousands annually prove that the Jewish people vote with their feet in favor of a continued
Jewish presence in Hebron. Therefore, there is no justification for the state of Israel to prevent Jews from actualizing their ‘right to purchase’ of those properties which were legally purchased for their ‘full price.’"
Amen and amen. Could it be that our people are now — in the face of horrendous risks — beginning to wake up to the fact of Jewish rights?
I hope to follow with more on this soon.
Giving expression to Jewish rights , as well, is a landmark court case:
Acting as a group, represented by Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, 150 Israeli citizens, have initiated an unprecedented criminal prosecution of the Wakf leaders in Jerusalem. Filed today in Jerusalem District Court by means of a seldom utilized section of the criminal code, the indictment charges that the Wakf has engaged in the deliberate destruction of ancient Jewish relics on the Temple Mount.
The Wakf has brought in heavy equipment for purposes of "renovations" on the Mount, and Israeli archeologists have discovered trashed Jewish artifacts in the earth that was discarded. (I recently wrote about this.)
If convicted, the Wakf officials would serve years in prison.
The IDF has uncovered seven tunnels in southern Gaza used for smuggling weapons. As always with these discoveries, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Nine Kassams hit Sderot today.