Friday, January 13, 2006

A7News: Likud 'Loyalist' Wins Top Slot, Shinui Crumbles

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Supposedly ´Uprooted´ Olive Trees Still Stand - Pruned
New evidence has led those claiming Jews in the Shomron "uprooted" olive trees to admit the trees were "pruned poorly." Photos also show the IDF has itself pruned thousands of trees in the same way.
Full Story Below

 1. Supposedly ´Uprooted´ Olive Trees Still Stand - Pruned
 2. ´Loyalist´ Moshe Kahlon Wins Likud Vote, Shinui Party Implodes
 3. Disengagement Architect: Netanyahu Will Also Disengage
 4. Mofaz Orders Destruction of Three More Communities
 5. Photo Essay: Sde Boaz Alive and Well Despite Destruction
 6. Suicide Bomber Fails to Injure Soldiers in Jenin
 7. Organization Saves Lives of 1,806 Jewish Children in 2005

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Editor: Ezra HaLevi
Friday, January 13, 2006
13 Tevet 5766


1. Supposedly ´Uprooted´ Olive Trees Still Stand - Pruned
By Ezra HaLevi

New evidence has led those claiming Jews in the Shomron "uprooted" olive trees to admit the trees were "pruned poorly." Photos also show the IDF has itself pruned thousands of trees in the same way.

Israel's three main newspapers, along with the world media, have published steady reports of "Jewish settlers uprooting Palestinian olive trees" accompanied by pictures of the supposedly "uprooted" or "chopped-down" trees – actually very much intact, but with their branches severely pruned back.

Click "play" to view video - click here if video does not appear

Acting prime minister Ehud Olmert, in one of his first acts as the leader of the Jewish state, condemned the "uprootings," adding, "These terrible acts must be prevented - the perpetrators must be apprehended."

Fellow Kadima Party member, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz joined the fray, estimating in front of the TV cameras that 2,000 trees has been "chopped down" in the past year, saying he had appointed a team to investigate the matter and proposed offering compensation to PA residents claiming their trees were axed.

Amira Hass of Haaretz newspaper wrote: "The police have counted 733 trees that were uprooted in 2005." She doesn't just blame Jewish residents, however, saying the Israeli government itself dug up a huge number of trees for the Partition Wall, which both Jewish and non-Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria oppose. "In the village of Qafeen alone, for example, 12,600 olive trees were uprooted for the separation fence," Hass wrote.

The left-wing web site web site shows a picture of the way in which the IDF, sanctioned by none other than Defense Minister Mofaz, prepares trees to be transferred elsewhere when they interfere with the path of the Partition Wall. The branches are pruned down to the trunk - even closer than those supposedly the cut by Jewish vandals.

The Yesha Council began to publicize the video of Arabs chopping branches off of their own trees after issuing several condemnations of the alleged tree-cuttings over the years. A council spokeswoman said that the members heard testimony from the head of Israel's Olive Tree Growers Association saying that every two years or so olive trees must be heavily pruned, all the way to their trunk, in order to encourage a better olive harvest the following year.

Hass responded to the video in Thursday's Haaretz, saying two experts she showed photographs to concluded the trees were not pruned properly and, therefore, must have been cut by Jews. "Palestinian olive trees in the West Bank are clearly being vandalized rather than pruned," Hass said. She then quotes Yoel Marshak, a left-wing activist from the kibbutz movement: It's clear that these were people who were rushing so as not to be caught," he said. "They had a saw, but they didn't saw completely through the branch; they sawed partway through and then broke it off. They didn't saw the trunk, because it is thick; therefore, they cut off the branches."

The other "expert" quoted by Hass admits that the trees will grow back.

Meanwhile, Israeli politicians have continued to condemn the so-called hilltop youth, blaming them for the pruned trees without any evidence shown publicly, photographic or otherwise.

Shabak (General Security Service) Chief Yuval Diskin was reported to have told the Knesset Defense Committee earlier in the week that, "These actions are very grave, in my opinion. Olive trees are just a symptom, and the problem is that there is no effective law enforcement when it comes to the hilltop youth. They have anti-establishment, anti-government and even anarchic characteristics," he said. According to Israeli media reports of the closed session, he added that the GSS "knows which of the settlers are responsible and handed a list to the police and IDF, who have failed to make any arrests." Soon after, GSS sources denied that Diskin had made such a claim and IDF and police spokespeople denied having received any such list.

On Tuesday, a Jewish Shomron resident was arrested with olive branches in his car. It turned out he was a gardener for a local Jewish community and had pruned their trees and saved the branches for firewood.

Meanwhile, Jewish olive growers in Gush Etzion are baffled by the entire episode. "Anyone who knows anything about olive trees knows that cutting off their branches does not kill them – and certainly the Arabs know this," said Eitan, who has an olive orchard that he planted in the hills south of Jerusalem.

"You don't hear about it on the news, but they know this so well, that they have no problem cutting through the trunks of olive trees we plant, or just tying them to a donkey, actually uprooting the trees, and bringing them elsewhere."

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2. ´Loyalist´ Moshe Kahlon Wins Likud Vote, Shinui Party Implodes
By Ezra HaLevi and Hillel Fendel

Anti-Disengagement Likud "loyalist" MK Moshe Kahlon won his party's primaries Thursday, giving him the #3 slot after Netanyahu and Shalom. Shinui Party is in ruins, NRP had a 93% voter turnout.

The so-called Likud "rebels" did well in the primaries, with four of five of the top slots going to those who opposed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan. Three leading anti-expulsion MKs, however, were left off the list: Michael Ratzon, Ehud Yatom and Ayoub Kara.

"We were elected with the message that we are going to change things," Kahlon told Israel Radio. "The Likud will no longer make decisions in the dead of night."

Jewish Leadership faction head Moshe Feiglin expressed satisfaction with the results, even though Michael Fuah, the faction's candidate for the Knesset list, did poorly in the vote.

The Likud Knesset list is as follows:
1) Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu - Unhappily supported Disengagement until the week before implementation, when he left the government in protest of it.
2) Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom - Supported Disengagement from beginning to end, though came out against the abandonment of the Philadelphi Corridor between Gaza and Egypt.
3) MK Moshe Kahlon - One of the less outspoken Likud 'loyalist,' though he voted consistently against the expulsion and is a close associate of MK Dr. Uzi Landau.
4) MK Gilad Erdan - Opposed the Disengagement.
5) MK Gideon Sa'ar - Likud's coalition whip, who maintained good relations with both camps in the Likud, was outspoken in favor of a referendum on the expulsion, and mainly voted against the expulsion.
6) MK Michael Eitan - Supported the Disengagement, but also fought on behalf of residents' and activists' legal rights in Knesset Legal Committee.
7) Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin - Opposed the Disengagement.
8) Health Minister Dan Naveh - Supported the Disengagement.
9) MK Yuval Shteinitz - Supported the Disengagement, but opposed the abandonment of Philadelphi Corridor.
10) Minister Limor Livnat (received enough votes for the 11th slot, but was bumped up because the 10th slot is reserved for a woman) - Supported the Disengagement.
11) Natan Sharansky - Resigned from government prior to implementation of Disengagement, but declined to join the pitched struggle against its implementation.
12) Minister Yisrael Katz - Opposed the Disengagement.
13) MK Chaim Katz - Opposed the Disengagement.
14) MK Uzi Landau - Considered the head of the Likud "loyalists", resigned the government long ago in protest of the Disengagement. He backed out of the primaries for head of the party and backed Netanyahu.
15) MK Yuli Edelstein - Opposed the Disengagement.
16) MK Daniel Benlulu - Opposed the Disengagement.
17) MK Leah Ness - Opposed the Disengagement.
18) MK Naomi Blumental - Opposed the Disengagement.

Next in line were MKs Yatom, Ratzon, David Levy, David Mena and Gila Gamliel, who will apparently not be in the next Knesset. Ahead of them on the Knesset list, according to the Likud charter, will be some 20 new candidates, representing various sectors. Yatom has already announced his resignation from politics.

"Tonight we saw that Likud is the only party in which there is actually democracy," chairman Binyamin Netanyahu announced Thursday night, after the results were announced. "In Kadima there is no democracy, in Shinui there is no democracy - only in Likud." 91 percent of Likud Central Committee members turned out to elect their candidates.

The election of both Natan Sharansky and Yuli Edelstein is expected to help the Likud win the always-sought-after Russian swing vote. Both men were refuseniks in the former Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the anti-religious Shinui Party, unhappy with the results of their primaries, has decided to reject the results by splitting apart from Shinui. They plan to take with them a majority of the MKs and thereby retain the party name. A legal battle is expected, and neither of the two splinter factions can expect to do very well in the coming elections.

Shinui Party chairman Yosef "Tommy" Lapid was re-elected party chairman by a very small margin over challenger Itzik Gilad - a result of recent polls showing Lapid to be a liability to the party rather than an asset. MK Avraham Poraz failed to win the number two slot and immediately announced his resignation from the Party, starting the domino process of resignations that brought with it Shinui MKs Ilan Shalgi, Meli Polishuk-Bloch, Ettie Livni and Ronnie Brizon. They claim they will form a new list on their own without the burden of a central committee, in order to "represent the real Shinui," according to Army Radio.

Shinui had been expected to drop from 15 Knesset seats to less than 5. Fears had been expressed that the party might not even pass the Knesset threshold, as voters migrated to the Kadima and other parties. A poll early in the week said the party could garner as many as seven seats without Lapid at the top. "The only gimmick I can pull out of the hat at the moment is to have Lapid hospitalized and if I go into a coma," Poraz told reporters.

Moledet and NRP Primaries
The Moledet party voted to keep MK Rabbi Binyamin Elon at its top spot, followed by MK Aryeh Eldad, American oleh (immigrant) Uri Bank and Alex Epstein. The four are entitled to occupy the first, sixth, ninth and tenth spots on the National Union list, but Dr. Eldad said before the vote that if he remains in the sixth slot, he will either retire or form or join another party.

MK Nissan Slomiansky won the National Religious Party internal elections, but will remain number two as the top slot is reserved for party chairman Zevulun Orlev. After Slomiansky came former Knesset Member Eli Gabbai, followed by MK Gila Finkelstein, MK Sha'ul Yahalom and Moti Yogev. Following the vote, MK Yahalom issued a call for "all the young people to return home to the NRP."

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3. Disengagement Architect: Netanyahu Will Also Disengage
By Ezra HaLevi

Disengagement architect Maj.-Gen. (Ret.) Uzi Dayan claims that Netanyahu will eventually withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria, and is just "buying time."

Dayan, formerly an IDF deputy chief of staff, first proposed unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 1999, when he served as Ehud Barak's national security adviser. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon kept Dayan as his national security adviser after winning the elections in 2001.

Dayan spoke with the Forward newspaper and was asked, "Which of the main candidates for prime minister — Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz and Benjamin Netanyahu — is most likely to support further disengagement?

"Olmert is closest to the way Sharon did it," Dayan said. "But Olmert is thinking about reaching an agreement with the Americans and I don't think it's going to happen. Peretz is trying to return to negotiations for a full agreement. If Peretz does so without preparing my West Bank disengagement plan as a safety net, we'll end up with another round of terrorism. And Netanyahu is just buying time. In the end, every one of them understands that we will have to disengage from the Palestinians."

Dayan is one of the original proponents of the Partition Wall, bolstering the claims of those who see the so-called "security fence" as nothing less then the drawing of Israel's final border without so much as a referendum or Knesset discussion.

Last Sunday, Dayan announced the formation of a new party, called Tafnit (Change in Direction). The party calls for a withdrawal to the route of the Partition Wall.

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4. Mofaz Orders Destruction of Three More Communities
By Ezra HaLevi

DM Sha'ul Mofaz has authorized the destruction of three Jewish neighborhoods in the Shomron. There are 7, 380 demolition orders against illegal Arab buildings that remain unexecuted.

The threatened communities, called "unauthorized outposts" by the government, are Skully's Farm near Elon Moreh, the Arussi Farm near Har Bracha and Hill 725, near Yitzhar.

Mofaz took advantage of the media attention to the alleged uprooting of Arab olive trees to declare that the outposts to be destroyed are close to the sites of such incidents. Police spokesmen said that the police plan on using tear gas in the coming expulsion attempts, as they did in Sde Boaz on Wednesday. Activists say they will bring their state-issued gas masks in response.

Mofaz made the announcement shortly after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition from residents of the threatened neighborhood of Amona, near Ofra, home to nine permanent houses, postponing its destruction by two weeks. The hearing on the petition is scheduled for Wednesday.

Though the Yesha Council has launched a campaign to save Amona, it has made no effort to help the hilltop communities in question. No members of the council appeared at Sde Boaz, the Gush Etzion community that saw one of its homes destroyed earlier this week. Sha'ul Goldstein, a council member and the mayor of Gush Etzion, told Channel 2 television that he did not know about the plan to destroy the home in Sde Boaz and had a previous engagement. He then claimed, however, that a deal had been made with residents to dismantle the house on their own, and that he was against its construction from the start.

Sde Boaz residents say Goldstein knew full well that the army planned to destroy the house and that claims of an agreement are ludicrous. "In the end, it was a blessing that Goldstein and the Yesha Council stayed away, with their defeatism and their megaphones," one activist said Wednesday. "We all remember Kfar Maimon and see before our eyes how they are selling out communities right and left in exchange for being placed inside the 'security fence' of media approval and worse."

Yesha Council spokeswoman Emily Amrusi told Arutz-7 that such claims are outrageous, "Coming from the same people who claim we 'sold out' Gush Katif, they do not even merit a serious reply."

Sde Boaz, Skully's Farm, Arussi Farm and Hill 725 are all designed after the model innovated by Avri Ran. All were built entirely by Jewish labor, refuse to be fenced in by security barriers, espouse various degrees of environmental consciousness and engage in agriculture. Amona, on the other hand, was built by Amana, the logistical branch of the Yesha Council, using local Palestinian workers and without any agricultural accompaniment.

Residents of Amona, however, are also wary of the Yesha Council's history of choosing public relations over effective action. "Our struggle will be active and not passive," an Amona spokesman told Arutz-7. "There will be no hugs or love for those who come to destroy our homes. We plan on lying down in front of the bulldozers and blocking the roads – the response in Sde Boaz will be our model. In the inner circle we will entrench ourselves inside the houses."

The Civil Lands Administration, which ordered the destruction of an illegal home in Gush Etzion Wednesday, has issued 7,380 similar orders against Arab homes in Judea and Samaria, but they have not been executed.

The courts have approved the orders to tear down the buildings, and The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) this week charged the government with bias against Jewish residents.

Orders to dismantle hundreds of other illegal houses in the Negev also have not been carried out. Bedouins in the Negev have built thousands of illegal metal shacks on land that they have taken over during the past two decades. The government calls them "unrecognized villages," and the police have carried out orders to destroy a small percentage of the buildings.

Investigative journalist David Bedein wrote that the only thing the government fears enough to back down from destroying Jewish neighborhoods is Arab violence. Bedein suggested that if the security establishment saw a serious threat of Jews responding to the destruction of unauthorized outposts by marching on the thousands of unauthorized buildings built in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa, demanding equal enforcement of the law.

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5. Photo Essay: Sde Boaz Alive and Well Despite Destruction
By Ezra HaLevi

The agricultural community of Sde Boaz, a haven of religious tolerance and firm ideals, became the scene of police violence and government-sanctioned destruction Wednesday, but continues to build.

Email subscribers, click here to view photo essay

Residents have sought to create an example of what Israel can be when Jews from diverse walks of life come together to build, getting their hands dirty and breaking a sweat the way their forefathers did, in the hills south of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, despite promises from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Gush Etzion would remain in Jewish hands "for eternity" and a letter from US President George W. Bush, residents found themselves joined by hundreds of fellow Jews in a struggle against bulldozers and riot police sent to demolish a home built by one of the residents and the horses' stable.

(Photos: Sde Boaz residents, Orange Cell, Baruch Brenner and Ezra HaLevi)

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6. Suicide Bomber Fails to Injure Soldiers in Jenin
By Ezra HaLevi

An Arab suicide bomber blew himself up near a group of IDF soldier in Jenin Thursday, but failed to injure anybody but himself. At least one other terrorist was killed.

A joint IDF-Border Police operation was being carried out to arrest wanted Islamic Jihad terrorists. Taking part were members of the elite Duvdevan undercover unit.

The security forces surrounded two houses that the terrorists were known to be hiding in. Three came out, giving themselves up. Suddenly, the suicide bomber, strapped with explosives, rushed toward the troops and blew himself up.

Following the bombing, another terrorist ran out of the house wearing a bullet-proof vest and opened fire at the troops. He was shot dead, at which point another terrorist gave himself up and the soldiers took control of the house. They found explosives and weapons stored in the house and confiscated them.

Islamic Jihad claims a third man was killed, but the IDF denies the claim.

Islamic Jihad terrorists carried out six suicide bombings in the past year. The IDF has increased operations in Jenin and Tul Karem, seeking to reduce the infrastructure of the terrorist group in the two PA-controlled cities, which has drastically increased since the forced removal of Jewish communities from the region as part of the Disengagement.

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7. Organization Saves Lives of 1,806 Jewish Children in 2005
By Israel National News Staff

The Efrat organization says it saved 1,806 Jewish children this past year in Israel by providing financial and social support to pregnant women in distress considering abortion.

"Efrat is thankful to announce that 1,806 Jewish children's lives were saved in 2005. It’s incredible to see these glowing mothers with their children and to know that we helped create that happiness," said Efrat coordinator Tzvi Binn. "However we still have a long way to go, as many of the close to 50,000 abortions in Israel every year are done out of economic concerns."

The Efrat organization reaches out to pregnant women in distress by offering monthly food and baby supplies for a year, free baby equipment and an Efrat volunteer to provide support and friendship during the pregnancy and after.

The organization says that the package of social and financial support that it provides gives the confidence the women and their families need to choose to continue their pregnancies and have their babies.

Efrat says it has "saved the lives of more than 18,000 Jewish children by helping more than 18,000 expecting mothers over the past 29 years."

For more information, visit

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