Sunday, December 18, 2005

A7news: Tomorrow's Likud Race Heats Up

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Likud Race Heats Up
The three leading candidates in the Likud primaries are taking their final swipes, a day before the vote. Feiglin says Netanyahu voters are like a "battered wife covering the bruises with make-up."
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 1. Likud Race Heats Up
 2. Religious Zionist Parties Seek to Compromise
 3. Double Standard U.S. Policy on Hamas
 4. Rains of Blessing Felt in Sea of Galilee
 5. Ya’alon: Iraq Moved its Chemical Weapons to Syria Before War
 6. Latest Terrorism Victim Buried in Hevron
 7. Two Terrorists Die in Attempted Attacks from Gaza
 8. On A7TV: French High School Graduates Visit Israel

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Editor: Hillel Fendel
Sunday, December 18, 2005
17 Kislev 5766


1. Likud Race Heats Up
By Hillel Fendel

The three leading candidates in the Likud primaries are taking their final swipes, a day before the vote. Feiglin says Netanyahu voters are like a "battered wife covering the bruises with make-up."

The candidates in tomorrow's election are, in order of support according to latest polls, front-runner Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Jewish Leadership faction head Moshe Feiglin, and Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz. Polls open Monday at 10 AM for the nearly 130,000 party members.

Shalom has closed the gap somewhat with Netanyahu, and is also said to have a better-oiled machine for "getting the vote out."

Netanyahu continues to accuse Shalom of planning to turn the Likud into an extension of Ariel Sharon's Kadima party. "I will make the Likud a large party that will make sure Jerusalem remains whole and united," Netanyahu said. He has exhorted his supporters that victory will only be guaranteed, and with a comfortable margin, if the volunteers in the field work hard to bring every supporter to the polling booth.

Shalom, for his part, has accused Netanyahu of planning, if he loses, to quit the Likud and head a right-wing bloc with Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party. "Total nonsense," Netanyahu said in response to the charges.

Yesha Council head Bentzy Lieberman has endorsed Netanyahu. "A reading of the political map," Lieberman said, "shows that only Netanyahu has realistic chances to head a strong nationalist camp and deal with the grave dangers presented by Sharon and the left. Electing Feiglin as head of the Likud will merely reduce the party's electoral strength in the national election."

Feiglin responded to Lieberman's call with a bitter tirade, seemingly the result of deep frustration at the nationalist camp's failure in stopping the disengagement/expulsion:

"We saw just a few months ago the wonderful ability of Lieberman, [Pinchas] Wallerstein and their colleagues in the Yesha Council leadership in preserving the settlement enterprise. Just like a battered wife who covers up with make-up the bruises she received from her husband, so too Bentzy and his friends return again and again to Bibi [Netanyahu], who embraced Arafat and who enabled the disengagement. Because of the Yesha Council, Bibi knows that he can safely carry out the next expulsion, because the settlers will always forgive him."

Minister Katz, headed for a 4th and last place showing in tomorrow's election according to the polls, was also not pleased with Lieberman's call. "Supporters of the NRP and National Union should not intervene in internal Likud issues," Katz said.

Michael Puah, a leading member of Feiglin's Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction in the Likud, said he agrees with Katz: "Outside elements need not get involved."

Arutz-7 asked, "Would you say the same even if those outside elements supported Feiglin? After all, many feel that the Likud - as the largest right-wing party and the one whose candidate will, in many ways, represent the right-wing - belongs to all potential right-wing voters?"

Puah: "Yes, I would say the same. The Likud 'belongs' only to those who registered with the Likud."

A-7: "How do you answer those who say that a vote for Feiglin will only weaken Netanyahu's chances to beat Silvan Shalom, and that a Likud under Shalom would be more likely to go along with Ariel Sharon's policies?"

Puah: "A vote for Feiglin is a vote for strengthening the Likud and restoring it to its true ideals - and this will be true even if Silvan Shalom heads the party. For after all, even if Shalom wins, what will he get - 41%? This means that his supporters are in the minority, and we will bring the Likud back to its values."

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2. Religious Zionist Parties Seek to Compromise
By Hillel Fendel

The NRP refuses to accept Benny Elon as head of a joint list with the National Union - but is apparently willing to entertain the possibility of his brother, Rabbi Moti Elon, at the top.

The two parties say they want to merge for the upcoming elections, but have been unable to reach agreement on "personnel" issues. These include the questions of who will head the list - National Religious Party leader Zevulun Orlev or National Union head Benny Elon - and how to divide the top 10 places between the two parties.

Benny Elon, also a rabbi and former yeshiva dean, heads the National Union party, while his brother, Rabbi Moti Elon, is the Dean of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Old City of Jerusalem. The two are sons of retired Supreme Court Justice Menachem Elon, who himself is a student of the Hevron Yeshiva, an ordained Rabbi, and a Doctor of Laws from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Moti Elon, a nationally-renowned lecturer and educator, is said to be considering the possibility of heading the joint list.

Another name mentioned as a compromise option for the two parties is Rabbi Rafi Peretz, the head of the pre-military yeshiva that was recently uprooted from Atzmona to the Halutza Sands area.

Ideological differences also divide the two parties, as was evidenced by an interview NRP leader Zevulun Orlev granted in the Friday edition of the Jerusalem Post. He said that the closure of a public-religious school would be more painful to him than the dismantling of a community in Judea and Samaria. Orlev later explained that there was always the hope of returning to areas that were given away, but if a religious school is closed down, "we have lost those students."

On-line critics responding to reports of this quote noted that religious schools and yeshivot were also closed down and lost in Gush Katif.

Orlev also said in the interview that though he does not want to "give up anything" in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, "it's clear that in a real peace agreement Israel will have to give up something."

MK Tzvi Hendel of the National Union, who has long called for a merger between the two parties, said, "I view MK Orlev's remarks with gravity. We will demand clarifications from MK Orlev, and we will convene a faction meeting to discuss this."

Two polls conducted late last week show that the NRP running alone would receive only three Knesset seats - the minimum possible. Two other surveys show the party doing somewhat better, receiving between 4 and 6 seats under certain circumstances. The polls show the National Union receiving an average of nearly two seats more.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said he believes that in the end, the merger will come to fruition. "It's true that Orlev is more pink than orange," Eldad said, meaning that he is not as right-wing as the National Union and even some of the NRP, "but the NRP people also understand that they are liable not to even get into the Knesset if they run alone, and they will choose unification... The merger will give a push to the volunteers in the field to work even harder as the elections draw near."

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3. Double Standard U.S. Policy on Hamas
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu and Hillel Fendel

The U.S. is funding a Hamas-controlled town in Gaza despite a ban against financing terrorist organizations. Congressmen warned that funds to the PA might be cut if Hamas wins elections.

The U.S. government's Agency for International Development has given the Hamas-controlled village of Bani Suheila $392,000 for road projects, according to Middle East Newsline. It quoted the mayor of the town, where Hamas won 12 out of 13 seats in recent local elections, as saying he expects more projects for funding.

On the other hand, the House of Representatives passed a resolution by a 397-17 vote on Friday, warning the Palestinian Authority (PA) that it could face a cut in aid if it does not require Hamas and other terrorist organizations to disarm. The resolution urged the PA not to allow a still-armed Hamas terror organization to run in next month's election, saying that Hamas participation could undermine the ability of the United States to provide assistance.

The European Union, the biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority, also says it might curb aid to the PA - if Hamas wins the election next month. EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana told reporters in Tel Aviv, "It is very difficult that parties that do not condemn violence ... without changing those positions can be partners for the future,'' Solana said.

PA officials responded by saying that neither the EU nor the U.S. should intervene in internal Palestinian Authority affairs.

Last May, David Satterfield, number two man in the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs bureau, declared that the Bush administration "will neither recognize nor engage with" Hamas or Hizbullah members who are elected to office and do not disarm.

FBI director Robert Mueller told told a Senate committee earlier this year, "We are committed to cutting off the flow of funds from the United States to Palestinian terrorist organizations."

The State Department's policy on Hamas participation in the elections has been less firm than that expressed by the House of Representatives. State Department officials have said they are not happy with Hamas taking part in the January 26th election, but that the matter is an internal PA issue.

Officials have consistently side-stepped reporters' questions as to whether the U.S. will cut back funds to the PA if Hamas wins enough seats to become part of a coalition government. State Department spokesman McCormack said on Friday, "Well, let's, you know, first of all, let's let the elections take place...."

Meanwhile, Hamas is supplying other Arab terrorists with improved missiles, according to Middle East Newsline. It quoted military sources saying the weapons have been delivered to terrorist gangs affiliated with the ruling Fatah party, as well as to the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.

"Formally, Hamas has pledged to honor a ceasefire arranged by the Palestinian Authority," Newsline quoted a military source. "So, rather than fire the Kassams themselves, they give them to their terrorist allies."

The Hamas terrorist organization began in the 1980s as a Moslem fundamentalist alternative to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Yasser Arafat. It was based on social welfare programs and terrorism, and uses drug trafficking and car thefts as a source of funds.

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4. Rains of Blessing Felt in Sea of Galilee
By Hillel Fendel

The country-wide Sabbath rains raised the level of Lake Kinneret, Israel's largest water reservoir, for the first time this winter. It still has three meters to go to reach its optimal level.

The lake, also known as the Sea of Galilee, has started to rise, after the usual summer evaporation and dry season lowered its level to its lowest point in over two years. It stood more than two feet higher at this time last year.

The exact numbers: The Kinneret rose 1.5 centimeters over the weekend, and now stands at 211.73 meters below sea level. The optimal level is 208.8 meters below sea level, such that another 2.93 meters of rain is desired this winter.

Each centimeter of Kinneret height means another 1.7 million cubic meters of water. If the maximum level is reached, authorities must open the dams in order to prevent flooding in Tiberias and Ein Gev.

The current weather reports call for some rain in the morning hours, which will peter out by the afternoon. Scattered rains are now forecast for Monday night and Tuesday morning.

The heavy weekend rains caused flooding and/or closure of some roads in Tel Aviv, Lod, and Zikhron Yaakov.

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5. Ya’alon: Iraq Moved its Chemical Weapons to Syria Before War
By Scott Shiloh

Former IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon said in an interview with the New York Sun on Thursday that Iraq moved its chemical weapons to Syria six weeks before the war started.

"He transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria,” said Ya’alon. “No one went to Syria to find it.”

Ya’alon’s assertion that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were clandestinely sent to Syria on the eve of the war contradicts U.S. President George W. Bush’s statement last Wednesday at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. Bush said then that “much of the intelligence” on Iraq “turned out to be wrong,” and that it appears that Saddam did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

Despite his admission to what could be one of the greatest intelligence blunders of all time, Bush defended his decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

“Given Saddam's history and the lessons of September the 11th, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat - and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power,” said Bush.

Ya’alon, who was IDF Chief of Staff from July 2002 to June 2005, speculated, however, in April 2004 that Iraq transferred its weapons “to another country, such as Syria.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also contended that Iraq’s WMD were transferred from Iraq to Syria before the war. In December 2002, Sharon told Israel's Channel 2 Television that “chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria."

Syria has long been known to be developing its own chemical weapons (CW) of mass destruction. In March 2004, former CIA director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Damascus has an active CW development and testing program that relies on foreign suppliers for key controlled chemicals suitable for producing CW."

A senior official in the Iraqi embassy, Entifadh Qanbar, generally supported Ya’alon’s claim that Iraq moved its chemical weapons to Syria, but said that his government “is basically operating in the dark” because it doesn’t control its own intelligence agency.

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6. Latest Terrorism Victim Buried in Hevron
By Hillel Fendel

Yossi Shok, the 54th casualty of anti-Israel Palestinian terrorism this year, was buried today in the Jewish cemetery in Hevron.

Shok, 35, was shot by Palestinian Arab terrorists from a car that passed his own vehicle. He was on his way home on Friday afternoon to Beit Haggai, south of Kiryat Arba, and 20 miles south of Jerusalem; with him in the car were two sisters, also residents of Beit Haggai, who were physically unharmed in the attack. They said they noticed something amiss when a car overtook them with its window open in a heavy rain - but that before they had a chance to react, massive fire was opened at them.

Shok was rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he was pronounced dead.

Five other Jews have been murdered in the past six months in two similar attacks by what is assumed to be the same terrorist cell. In June, teenagers Avichai Levy, also of Beit Haggai and Amiad Mantzur of nearby Otniel were murdered via shots fired from a car as they stood on the side of the road near Beit Haggai. Two months ago, three Jews, including newlywed Matat Adler, 21, her cousin Kineret Mandel, 23, and 9th-grader Oz Ben-Meir, were murdered as they waited for a ride at the Gush Etzion junction. Each of the attacks occurred shortly after the army took down checkpoints as good will measures for the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Friday's attack, too, occurred just hours after the IDF took down a checkpoint on the approach road to the Arab village of Fawwar, from where the murderers apparently came. In response to the murder, the IDF said it would replace dozens of checkpoints on the roads in the vicinity and increase road patrols. It was reported today that the army had already reinstated 55 checkpoints in the vicinity.

Shok is survived by his wife Sagit, their five children aged between one month and nine years, and three brothers - including Arutz-7 Hebrew news editor Yigal Shok. Over 500 people took part in the funeral, which set off from Beit Haggai and ended in the Jewish cemetery in Hevron. His 9-year-old son Yonatan spoke of his father's "warm hug and many acts of hessed (kindness)."

Yossi Shok was a member of Beit Haggai's secretariat and headed the town's emergency defense unit. A native of Netanya, he moved to the southern Hevron Hills community shortly after he married, and worked as an engineer for the Kiryat Arba Development Company.

Arutz-7's Kobi Sela reported that dozens of cars took part in the funeral, and stopped at the site of the murder. "The residents are angry and very concerned," he reported, "at the removal of the checkpoints and at the fact that murderous terrorists are free to roam their roads. Some of them held a protest this morning outside the army headquarters, and one soldier came out and said to me privately, "If I could, I would tell you how strange some of the decision-making here is.'"

Prime Ministerial aide David Baker said after the attack, "With the Palestinian Authority not lifting a finger to fight terror against Israelis, Israel cannot be expected to sit by idly - nor will we."

Hevron Hills regional council chairman Tzviki Bar-Chai, speaking with Arutz-7's Hebrew department today, said, "Today we're OK, but what about in 2 weeks and in four weeks? The problem is that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz don't see themselves as fighting an all-out war against terrorism..."

Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) also blamed soft governmental policies for the attack. "The Prime Minister and Defense Minister allowed armed Arabs on the roads," he said, "in order to ensure Palestinian Authority elections, despite repeated warnings of the terrorist dangers involved."

Beit Haggai, despite its terrorism losses of the past few months, has grown by more than 30% over the past several months, welcoming some 20 new families.

Shortly after the funeral ended, a Kassam rocket was fired some 50 kilometers to the west, from Gaza towards the power plant in Ashkelon. No casualties or damage were reported.

Another tragedy that accompanied the killing on Friday was the car-accident death of Neta Yitzchaki near Shilo - just as her father Yinon, a member of the Kiryat Arba emergency unit, was responding to the terror attack.

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7. Two Terrorists Die in Attempted Attacks from Gaza
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

One Arab terrorist was killed by IDF fire and another died when a Kassam rocket misfired Saturday. The IDF continues to shoot artillery shells to prevent mortar shell and rocket attacks.

Army sources said an Arab terrorist from the Popular Resistance Committee was placing mines on the patrol road near Gaza's Erez crossing when soldiers spotted him and killed him with gun and tank fire. One of the mines exploded, but no one was injured.

"The troops saw that he was dealing with various wires and suspected that he was planting a bomb. They opened fire at him and identified a hit," an army spokesperson said.

Another Arab terrorist, 25-year-old Khaled Abu Sitta, died after launching rockets at Israel. Arab sources claimed that the IDF killed him in a missile strike. The army denied the report, saying he apparently died after one of the rockets misfired. Sitta was a member of the Abu el-Reesh Brigades, of the ruling Fatah party.

On Sunday afternoon, a Kassam rocket was fired towards southern Ashkelon; some reports said it landed inside the power station complex. No one was hurt. A car filled with explosives was found outside a hospital in Shechem, and was neutralized by PA forces.

The IDF carried out aerial attacks Friday night, targeting thirteen access routes used by terrorists to reach rocket launching sites. "The objective of targeting these routes is to prevent the passage of terrorists to the rocket launching grounds, and to disrupt the repeated attempts to fire projectile rockets at Israeli targets," an IDF spokesman said.

In Samaria, soldiers wounded an Islamic Jihad terrorist near Tul Karem after the wanted man tried to flee.

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8. On A7TV: French High School Graduates Visit Israel
A7tv's weekly culture magazine "Israeli Salad" with Yoni Kempinski
  • The “Lone Soldiers” - The Jewish agency held a special event for security personnel who immigrated on their own to Israel in order to join the IDF and the Israeli Police.
  • In which Israeli Academic institution will we learn next year? French high-school graduates visit Israel.
  • How to deal with the expulsion trauma? Experts and psychologists gather to discuss this issue.
  • Newborn quadruplet - “Good News Update” about this nice addition to the Jewish nation.
  • Depicting the stories of the bible – An exhibition of Abel Pann’s art.
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