Monday, November 13, 2006


Israel to Pursue Action Against Gaza Rocket Fire - Jonathan Ferziger and Gwen Ackerman

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel will pursue military operations to stop rocket fire from Gaza, even as he expressed regret for the accidental killing of 18 Palestinians. The shell that hit a Palestinian home in the northern Gazan town of Beit Hanoun was "a tragic mistake'' and meant to strike militants in a nearby orange grove who had fired a Kassam rocket into Israel, Olmert said.

"Military operations will continue as long as there will be firing of rockets,'' he said. (Bloomberg)

Top Hamas Officials: We Want All of Palestine, from the River to the Sea

In the nine months since it came to power, Hamas has not changed its views. Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mash'al told the London-based daily Al-Hayat on Oct. 12: "Why am I required to [recognize] the legitimacy of an occupying [entity]?

It is true that there is an entity called Israel, but I do not wish to recognize it." Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar stated on Oct. 20 that "Israel is a vile entity that has been planted in our soil, and has no historical, religious, or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalize our relations with this entity.

The history of this region has proven that occupation is temporary.

Thousands of years ago, the Romans occupied this land and left. The Persians, Crusaders, and English came and went. The Zionists have come, and they too will leave. [We say] no to recognizing Israel, regardless of the price we may have to pay."

Al-Zahar also said: "We [aim to liberate] all our lands....If we have the option, we will establish a state on every inch of land within the 1967 [borders], but this does not by any means imply that we will relinquish our right to all the Palestinian lands. We want all of Palestine from Naqura to Rafah, and from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river." (MEMRI)

MI5 Director: More Britons Are Turning to Terror - Michael Evans

In a stark public warning, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the Director-General of MI5, revealed that the security service's caseload had risen by 80% since January and now involved about 30 "Priority 1" plots.

It has identified 200 terrorist networks involving at least 1,600 people, many under the direct control of al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. "More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalized or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organized training events here and overseas," she said.

Dame Eliza said that she was alarmed by the "scale and speed" of the radicalization, which security sources later said had intensified since the 7/7 bombings. "Young teenagers are being groomed to be suicide bombers....Killing oneself and others in response is an attractive option for some citizens of this country and others around the world.

[The] threat is serious, is growing, and will, I believe, be with us for a generation." (Times-UK)

Argentina Seeks Arrest of Former Iranian President Rafsanjani

An Argentine judge ordered international arrest warrants on Thursday for former Iranian president Ali Rafsanjani and eight others in connection with the 1994 bombing of the major Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral issued the order two weeks after Argentine prosecutors formally accused the Iranian government of masterminding the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. (Reuters/New York Times)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

IDF Inquiry: Radar Malfunction Caused Botched Shelling - Amos Harel

Maj.-Gen. Meir Kalifi, who headed the IDF inquiry into the Beit Hanoun incident, presented the inquiry's findings Thursday. The inquiry found that a malfunctioning electronic card in the artillery battery's guidance system, which was replaced five days ago, was the cause of the errant fire. The card fed the battery's guidance system with wrong coordinates.

The Israeli-developed "Shilem" guidance system has been in use by the IDF for roughly 30 years. It is considered reliable, and IDF inquiries found that this is the first time this particular malfunction has occurred in the system or similar systems used abroad. (Ha'aretz)

Security Council Meets on Beit Hanoun Incident - Yitzhak Benhorin

Danny Carmon, the deputy head of the Israeli delegation to the UN, said during a Security Council meeting Thursday that the escalation in Gaza stems from Palestinian rocket fire on Israel, which is acting "in self-defense." Carmon said that Israel withdrew from Gaza in the hope that the Palestinians would manage it responsibly as a first step to the establishment of a Palestinian state that can live side by side in peace with Israel. But since Israel left Gaza, Palestinians have fired 1,000 rockets at Israel.

"Israel is asked again and again to show restraint. But the question is until when. After 1,000 rockets? 2,000 rockets?" Carmon asked.

He spoke about the need to release the Israeli soldiers while Karnit Goldwasser, the wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser, was present. "She is here to remind members of the Council who voted on Resolution 1701 that they are obliged to fulfill what they voted for and act for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers." (Ynet News)

Palestinian Rocket Attacks Injure Three Israelis - Shmulik Hadad

Three people sustained injuries from shrapnel and several others suffered from shock Thursday evening when a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed just a few meters from a store in a crowded Sderot shopping center. Earlier Thursday, two rockets landed in the western Negev. (Ynet News)

Israel, U.S. Ponder New Ways to Collect Intelligence in Lebanon - Aluf Benn

Israel and the U.S. are considering different methods for collecting intelligence in Lebanon that would replace the overflights of Lebanese airspace by Israel. "We do not want to embarrass the government of Lebanon and create tensions with the states who deployed, at our request, troops to the United Nations force.

If a solution can be found that would not require the overflights, and we could have another means to learn what goes on over there, perfect," a senior political source in Jerusalem said Thursday.

Among the possible alternatives are the use of American satellites or intelligence-gathering flights carried out by other countries, with the approval of the government of Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)

See also French Forces Almost Fired on Israeli Jets in Lebanon - Molly Moore

French peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon came within seconds of firing missiles at Israeli F-15 fighter jets that repeatedly dived on their positions last week, according to French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. (Washington Post)

"Work Accident" Destroys Gaza House - Mijal Grinberg

An explosion in Gaza City Thursday destroyed the house of Talal Abu Safiyah, a local commander of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Palestinian security officials said the blast was caused by explosives inside the house. (Ha'aretz)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Murderous Strategies - Marty Peretz

I am not indifferent to the death of Palestinians. I am especially not indifferent to the death of Palestinians caused by Israeli fire. But I think I do know who is indifferent to the death of Palestinians, and especially ecstatic if they are killed by Israeli fire. And it is Palestinians themselves.

The 18 killed in Gaza by a fatally awry Israeli artillery attack is nothing less than a great human tragedy. But those now dead were not targets, any more than victims of friendly fire are targets. When Palestinian weapons hit Israeli civilians, it is Israeli civilians who are the designated victims.

The Palestinians make no pretense on this matter. The rockets they have been sending into Ashkelon and Sderot are not even aimed at military bases. The Palestinian authorities have civilians in their sights. Have pity on the Palestinians. But aim your criticism at those who think killing Jews is a solution to the Palestinian problem. (New Republic)

Stopping Palestinian Rockets - Anshel Pfeffer

Both the efficiency and morality of using "preventative" artillery fire against Palestinian rocket launchers have been debated at length over the last few years.

Artillery is still the quickest and cheapest method to harass the rocket teams and minimize their threat. It is also the safest for IDF soldiers. Artillery batteries on a 24-hour alert, well within Israeli territory, are still the fastest and safest rapid-reaction tactic available.

The Palestinian rocket teams are constantly being hunted down, by all the military and intelligence elements at Israel's disposal.

In Gaza there is no job with a lower life-expectancy than a member of a rocket team. Hundreds have already been killed by artillery shelling, manned and unmanned air-strikes, tank cannon, and from ambush by ground forces. And that's not counting dozens more killed by the rockets exploding prematurely on the launching pad or in storage.

The IDF can't prevent rockets being fired in almost random directions from any point in the Gaza Strip, but they have managed to make it virtually impossible for the Palestinians to take real aim. (Jerusalem Post)

When Bush Meets Olmert - David Makovsky

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert will meet President Bush at the White House on November 13 as part of a prescheduled visit to address the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Los Angeles.

Neither Bush, nor Olmert, has any firm political initiative in mind.

Olmert is not coming to Washington with the strategy he had in May, when he obtained Bush's qualified blessing for his West Bank "Convergence" plan. At least for now, Olmert has taken this idea off the table.

In the wake of the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war, some Israelis fear that unilateralism has emboldened Hizballah and Hamas radicals. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Human Rights NGOs Neglect Hamas' Use of Human Shields

The Palestinian use of human shields to protect armed gunmen and rocket launching crews from Israeli responses is widespread but largely unreported.

On Nov. 2, amidst the ongoing warfare in Gaza, armed Palestinians entered a mosque in Beit Hanoun to escape from IDF units.

A standoff developed and on Nov. 3, Hamas broadcast a radio appeal for women to go to the mosque and act as human shields, providing cover for the gunmen to escape.

The use of human shields contravenes Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Convention, article 51 (7), which states that "the parties shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations." (NGO Monitor)

See also Fact, Fiction, and Fabrication Among NGOs - Ruthie Blum

NGO Monitor provides "raw facts about what the non-governmental organizations are doing," says associate editor Sarah Mandel.

And what many of them are doing, according to Mandel, is using the mandate of their funding - championing international human rights - to pursue political agendas that seek to delegitimize Israel.

Which is why NGO Monitor was established in the first place five years ago following the Israel-bashing and underlying anti-Semitism at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. "If human rights standards are applied non-universally, they cease to mean anything.

This is not only applicable to Israel; it's applicable to other crises in the world which are neglected because international human rights NGOs are not interested in those crises, or because those crises don't suit their agenda," Mandel said. (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Calls on Muslims to Attack American Targets

Hamas' military wing on Wednesday called on Muslims around the world to attack American targets after a deadly Israeli strike in Gaza.

"America is offering political, financial, and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas said in a statement. (AP/International Herald Tribune)

See also Statement by President Bush on Gaza Incident (White House)

Terminate Mandate of UN Special Committee, Israel Urges

The mandate of the Special Committee that investigates Israel's practices in occupied Arab lands should be terminated "once and for all," Israeli representative Ran Gidor told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Describing the Special Committee's work as "utterly divorced from reality," he said the only effect of the "absurd, indeed, shameful, waste of resources" was to undermine the credibility of the UN as a relevant and serious player in global politics.

He said the election of a Hamas leadership had escalated Gaza-based terrorist activities. Palestinian leaders, rather than heeding the Quartet's calls to commit to non-violence, had consolidated terrorist links with Syria and Iran.

He described the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People as redundant bodies and "anti-Israel propaganda apparatuses."

Israel urged the Palestinians to stop wasting their efforts on futile diplomatic maneuvers and concentrate on the only possible way to emerge from the current situation: ending terror, accepting all existing agreements, and reopening direct peace talks with Israel. (ReliefWeb/United Nations)

At the UN, Discord Over Confronting Iran's Nuclear Ambitions - Warren Hoge

A meeting of six nations working on a resolution to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions broke up Tuesday with the ambassadors reporting widening disagreements and lessening prospects of a swift accord.

Wang Guangya, the ambassador of China, said, "Clearly, I think in a number of difficult areas that the differences cannot be bridged." (New York Times)

See also Iranian Ayatollah Stands Firm on Nukes - Nasser Karimi

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei said Wednesday his country would continue to acquire nuclear technology. (AP/Washington Post)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

IDF: Shells Were Aimed 500 Meters from Houses in Beit Hanoun - Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff, and Aluf Benn

An initial Israel Defense Forces investigation has found that the artillery shells that killed 19 Palestinians in northern Gaza on Wednesday were "aimed 500 meters away from where [they] hit," head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, told Israel Channel 2 television.

"Our estimate is that it was something connected with the aiming devices, or the alignment, or the balance between them, or our radar's location of the shell hit....Our investigation is concentrating on these points."

Galant defended the shelling, saying: "Israel's citizens don't know how many times artillery fire has prevented Kassam [rocket] launches.

When you fire at the launching area two or three hours in advance, there is a good chance of preventing the Kassam fire."

On Tuesday, four new and improved Kassam rockets were fired at Ashkelon from an area north of Beit Hanoun. Later the IDF obtained intelligence that Hamas intended to fire more of the new-model rockets at Ashkelon Wednesday morning, apparently from the same site - which was chosen because it is not visible from any IDF lookout post. (Ha'aretz)

Airstrike Kills Senior Hamas Leader - Josh Brannon

Two Hamas operatives were killed and four others wounded when the IDF opened fire on a Kassam rocket-firing cell in northern Gaza on Wednesday.

Ahmed Awad, the head of Hamas' Kassam rocket firing unit, was killed along with another Hamas operative when missiles struck their car. Israel was placed on high security alert Wednesday after the shelling in Beit Hanoun.

Security officials said they had intelligence of four specific terror cells with explosives seeking to strike inside Israel, as well as 14 more general threats of terror cells in the final stages of preparations.

Palestinians in northern Gaza launched 11 Kassam rockets at Israeli borderline communities. One rocket slammed into a central Sderot street, spraying shrapnel that injured one man and heavily damaged nearby shops. Another Palestinian rocket struck south of Ashkelon, igniting a large fire. (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues Thursday - Shmulik Hadad

Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets Thursday morning at Israel. One rocket landed in the town of Sderot near a public institution, damaging the building and several cars. (Ynet News)

Some Israeli Children Can't Remember Life Without Kassam Rockets Falling - Miri Chason

To the children of Sderot and the western Negev, life in the shadow of Kassam rockets fired at them by Palestinians has been a traumatic experience for a long time. Some even told the Committee for Children's' Rights Tuesday that they don't remember life without them.

"We have no normal life. We never know what will happen the next hour when Kassams fall; we are not only afraid for ourselves, but also for our families. It's traumatic to think that someone close to us will get hurt. It's just terrible," said Bar, who testified before the committee.

"I have a hard time concentrating in school, and the Kassams affect my entire life," said Niv. "Every time I want to do something, I give up because I think that the alarm will go off at any moment." (Ynet News)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

A Gunner's Nightmare - Steve Linde

After serving in IDF Artillery, I can only say that this is every gunner's nightmare scenario: killing innocent men, women, and children. There's a key difference between Hamas and Hizballah fighters and Israel's.

They intentionally fire rockets at civilian targets, hoping for maximum casualties and damage. We don't.

The artillery troops who fired at Beit Hanoun weren't hoping to hit civilians. They were targeting terrorists firing rockets. What does the international community expect Israel to do if it is hit daily by rockets? Ignore them? Stop the rockets, and the artillery will stop, says the IDF.

War is a dangerous game, and once you start firing rockets or guns, people will get hurt, and not always the people you plan to hurt. That's the sad fact, and no one feels good about it. The writer is managing editor of the Jerusalem Post. (Jerusalem Post)

Want to Win Media Game? Don't Apologize - Roee Mendel

The difficult images broadcast on Wednesday from the accidental shelling of a residential house in Beit Hanoun shocked the world. According to Dr. Ra'anan Gissin, former Prime Minister Sharon's media adviser, Israel must deal with the Palestinians on the ground and in "the virtual front, the media front."

"You must broadcast the images of the terror groups hiding their rockets and launching those rockets from those residential areas. The world doesn't see enough of those images."

Zvi Mazel, Israel's former ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, is of the opinion that Israel mustn't apologize for Beit Hanoun. "The world must be told in the clearest manner that the responsibility lies solely with the terror organizations, which bring it on themselves."

Mazel says that the world must understand that despite Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinians continue to relentlessly launch Kassam rockets at Israeli towns with the intent to kill.

"The world must understand that the lives of Israeli citizens have become hell - they can't work, they can't live, not to mention the economic damage." "Terror groups are committing crimes," he says. "We have nothing to apologize for - we are operating against an enemy which calls for our annihilation and that enemy forces us to fight in populated areas." (Ynet News)

How Should Israel Respond to War Crimes Accusations? -

Dr. Avi Bell(Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

It is legal for armed forces to make mistakes. It is not a war crime if after the fact one turns out to be wrong in believing that a house contains a combatant. If, as is inevitable, Israel made occasional mistakes in targeting, that is not a war crime.

The question of intent is crucial.

If a belligerent attacks what it believes is a legitimate target, and it turns out after the fact that only civilians were killed, there is no war crime.

Hizballah committed war crimes in the recent war that far exceed in gravity and quantity all those Israel is accused of.

Hizballah launched thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on northern Israel, deliberately targeting civilians in violation of the laws of war.

Hizballah still holds two Israeli prisoners of war incommunicado, without permitting access to the Red Cross, in violation of the laws of prisoners of war in the Third Geneva Convention.

Hizballah combatants dressed as protected civilians, thereby committing illegal acts of perfidy. They carried out military operations from civilian areas in order to use protected persons as shields, another violation of the laws of war.

Under the laws of war, if a residential home serves as a base or a hiding place for combatants or a storehouse for weaponry, it is a legitimate military target. Thus, if one sees a residential home bombed, or even fifty bombed homes, this is not evidence per se of a war crime.

French President Jacques Chirac claimed that Israel's counterstrike on Lebanon was "totally disproportionate" to Hizballah's attack on Israel. Yet such a claim has no basis in international law.

When states act in self-defense, in response to an armed attack, they may use as much force as necessary to achieve the military objective.

Thus the U.S. could use as much force as it needed in order to topple the regime in Afghanistan; it did not need to limit itself to the amount of force used by al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks.

UN: No Evidence of Uranium-Based Israeli Munitions in Lebanon

UN experts have found no evidence to support a press report that Israel used depleted uranium (DU) munitions during the July-August conflict in Lebanon, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) says.

"The samples taken by the UNEP scientists show no evidence of penetrators or metal made of DU or other radioactive material," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "In addition, no DU shrapnel, or other radioactive residue was found.

The analysis of all smear samples taken shows no DU, nor enriched uranium nor higher than natural uranium content in the samples."

The UNEP statement said inspectors looking specifically at the DU issue had visited 32 sites south and north of the Litani River.

In October, the British Independent quoted Chris Busby, the British scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, as saying that craters at Khiam and At-Tiri in southern Lebanon caused by Israeli bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures." (AFP/ABC-Australia)

Iran Proposes Defense Pact with Gulf States

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said Tuesday that countries bordering the Persian Gulf should sign a defense pact to provide security along the strategic waterway.

"Signing a collective defense and security treaty among the Persian Gulf states will guarantee peace and security in the region," he said. Iran has been flexing its military muscles in a new series of war games in its southern Gulf waters since Nov. 2 - coinciding with U.S.-led naval maneuvers in the same region. (AFP/Defense News)

Iran Calls for Saddam to Be Executed - Ali Akbar Dareini

Iran called on Iraq Tuesday to carry out its death sentence on Saddam Hussein, saying the former dictator who waged an eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s was a criminal who deserved to die. (AP/Washington Post)

Shias Call for Saddam Execution to Be Broadcast Live on Television - Ned Parker (Times-UK)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Two Palestinian Rockets Land Near Ashkelon School - Shmulik Hadad

Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at the Israeli city of Ashkelon Tuesday, with two of them landing near a school in the city, two more at the industrial area, and one near a strategic installation. (Ynet News)

Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot Wednesday, Wounds One - Shmulik Hadad (Ynet News)

19 Palestinians Killed in Northern Gaza - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel

IDF artillery shells struck a residential area in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun early Wednesday, killing at least 19 Palestinians and wounding dozens of others. (Ha'aretz)

Palestinian Civilian Casualties in Beit HanounIn an effort to disrupt and prevent the firing of rockets at Israeli population centers, the IDF on Wednesday carried out preventative artillery fire at the area from which Kassam rockets were fired Tuesday at Ashkelon, in order to disrupt attempts to resume fire.

Following reports of Palestinian civilian casualties, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz ordered a halt to artillery fire in the Gaza Strip pending investigation.

IDF activity targets terrorist organizations and infrastructure only, and not Palestinian civilian targets, while the terror organizations deliberately target Israeli civilians.

The IDF expresses regret at any harm to uninvolved civilians, but stresses that the responsibility for this rests with the terror organizations, which use the Palestinian civilian population as a "human shield," carrying out terror attacks and firing Kassam rockets at Israeli population centers under cover of the Palestinian population. (IDF Spokesman)

Hamas: Israel Must Be Wiped Out - Ali Waked

Palestinian government spokesman Dr. Ghazi Hamad said that Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth, in response to an IDF strike Wednesday in Beit Hanoun. (Ynet News)

U.S. Expects Israel to Agree to Gaza Deployment of PLO Brigade from Jordan - Anshel Pfeffer

A senior U.S. official told Israeli reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. expected Israel to agree to the deployment of the Palestinian Bader Brigade from Jordan to the Strip and to work for a diplomatic solution to the Gaza situation rather than a military one.

Though there is little support within the army and the public for a return to the settlements in Gush Katif, there is a growing realization that including the north and south ends of the Strip in the withdrawal was a tactical mistake.

The explosives brought through Rafah - with the Egyptians turning a blind eye - are quickly transformed into more rockets fired from the northern Gaza area once controlled by the IDF around the now nonexistent settlements of Dugit, Nisanit, and Elei Sinai. (Jerusalem Post)

Are There Signs of a Jordanian-Palestinian Reengagement? - Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari (ICA/JCPA)

U.S. Official: Israel Won't Bomb Iran - Tovah Lazaroff

Iran's nuclear facilities are too vast to be destroyed by a single air attack so Israel is unlikely to bomb it to forestall Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

"We do not have enough information about the Iranian nuclear program to be confident that you could destroy it in a single attack. The worst thing you could do is try and not succeed," the official said.

In Iran there are as many as 200 sites that are part of their nuclear program, he noted. As a result, he said, "I do not see that Israel is going to do something like that.

In all our conversations, thus far, Israel has stressed that this is an international problem. Israel does not want to make it an Israeli problem." (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

IDF Views Beit Hanoun Operation - Hanan Greenberg

After a weeklong IDF operation in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, Givati Brigade commander Col. Yoel Strick summed up the operation Tuesday.

"We moved as we wished in Beit Hanoun, searched the streets and almost every house."

"This operation does not provide a solution for everything that is going on in Gaza, but it will certainly have an important effect. It's also about the many arrests we made, which we hope will provide new information about the terror infrastructure.

It's wrong to connect it directly to rocket figures.

The goal was to operate inside the town, in the areas that are considered the most crucial core of the infrastructure, and the fact is that in the end we moved through those areas freely, without being shot at."

Col. Strick says that IDF forces also uncovered five weaponry manufacturing facilities, buildings where missiles and explosives were prepared. During the operation Col. Strick met in person with the director of the Beit Hanoun hospital. "I asked him what equipment he was missing and we made sure he got it." (Ynet News)

No Partner for an Interim Agreement - Efraim Inbar

Progress in dealing with protracted ethnic conflicts such as we have in the Holy Land requires a reliable strategic "address."

This means that each side of the conflict must have a political leadership that can authoritatively negotiate and subsequently implement an agreement.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian political system lacks a strong and effective political center. As a matter of fact, the Palestinians are on the verge of civil war and it is unclear at this stage whether any party will succeed in establishing an effective monopoly over the use of force in the PA.

The two largest political parties, Fatah and Hamas and their associated militias, are too weak to constitute a strategic address for Israel, and the chaotic situation in the PA is likely to continue for some time.

The remaining available strategy is simply to wait until the Palestinians put their house in order, which may take a long time.

Over a decade, territorial concessions on the part of Israel and generous international financial support have had no positive impact on Palestinian society, which has degenerated into chaos.

Outside intervention has little chance of overcoming the political and social dynamics within the Palestinian entity. Only the Palestinians can extricate themselves from their dismal situation and eventually become a true partner for negotiations with Israel.

The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. (

Iran's Target Practice - Editorial (Wall Street Journal, 8Nov06)

One clue that the ruling Iranian mullahs have something other than peaceful nuclear energy in mind is the huge investment they're making in ballistic-missile technology. Just last week, Iran test-fired dozens of Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 missiles, which have ranges up to about 2,000 kilometers.

A large swath of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Eastern European real estate is already within range of these Iranian missiles. Among the potential targets are India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and southern Russia.

The missiles also pose a direct threat to the many U.S. bases and troop deployments in the region, especially in Iraq.
We're surprised that more Western Europeans, who will soon be within range of Iranian missiles, don't seem worried about this threat.

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