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THIS WEEK - January 21

Sderot Quiet - But Girl Dies Of Wounds From Recent Qassam Attack

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - Quo Vadis?

Likud Rebels Battle Sharon For Withdrawal Referendum

Cheney-Hersh-Iran: Common Denominator

David Essing reportson some of the main news developments over the past seven days

Ella Abukasis

Palestinian security forces have deployed in the northern Gaza Strip to prevent terrorists from launching more Qassam rockets and mortars at Sderot and other Israeli targets. But for seventeen-year-old Ella Abukasis it is too late. Ella has died of wounds she suffered last Saturday night in a Qassam rocket attack on Sderot. She was walking home with her ten year old brother Tamir, when sirens warned that Palestinians had launched more Qassam rockets at her hometown. While shielding her brother, Ella was critically wounded in the head by shrapnel. Tamir was moderately hurt. After doctors at Be'er-Sheva's Soroka hospital declared that Ella was clinically dead, her parents agreed to disconnect the life support systems. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned Ella's father to say how hard the decision must have been.

How serious is the attempt by the new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas? Writing in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, columnist Eitan Haber put the Palestinian issue into historical perspective in his article, 'A Miserable People'. Haber also served as an advisor to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Eitan Haber

While we are still shrouded in heavy mourning for the deaths of our children and while we continue to feel the pain of the war of terror which has now entered its fifth year, we may still distinguish between the headline of a deadly Palestinian attack and the photo of the ruins of a Palestinian home and ponder: 'What in the Hell is so screwed up with our neighbors, the Palestinian people, who for one hundred years, one hundred! Have one produced not even one, one! Person of stature who will lead his people from slavery to freedom, from darkness into bright light? What is so warped with this people, who have not found the leader who will rescue them from the endless rivers of blood and death, from despicable poverty and from their catastrophe which is not yet over?'The past century produced leaders such as Jomo Kenyata in Kenya, Nelson Mandela in South Africa and many others; and certainly David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin for us. They dreamed of independence and fought for it and led their people to great moments and glorious hours. So how is it that among the millions of Palestinians one finds only Haj Amin Al Housaini, who led them to their great disaster of the pain-filled 'Nakba'; and Ahmed Shukeiri who starred as a buffoon in his embarrassing appearances. Then Yasser Arafat was born who probably, in another few years, will be unknown to Palestinian school children.Now it's the turn of Abu Mazen that is, Mahmoud Abbas. From the sidelines he appears and sounds these days, as if a state has suddenly fallen upon him and he is seeking his way. He does not exude charisma or great stature: in our terms he appears and sounds more like a leader of blue-collar workers in Tel Aviv during the 1930's - a small man without a great vision; a man whose position is too great for him. Abu Mazen does not look or sound like the leader who will, once and for all, rescue the miserable Palestinian people from the ocean of mud in which it is drowning. Where in the Hell is their David Ben-Gurion?But on second thought: maybe we're wrong? Maybe this Abu Mazen will be like our Prime Minister Levi Eshkol during the Six-Day War; a leader who, without the fanfare of drums and trumpets, will lead his people to security and peace?

{Eitan Haber, 20-1-05}


Rebels vs. Sharon

'It ain't over, till it's over!' That's the motto of the Likud Knesset members who oppose Prime Minister Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements next summer. The 'rebels' or 'loyalists' as they prefer to be called are circulating a petition among party members calling on Sharon to hold a national referendum on the withdrawal. In an interview with IsraCast , MK Uzi Landau, the 'rebels- loyalists' leader says the recent escalation in Palestinian terrorism only serves to persuade more Israelis that withdrawing now will be a big mistake.

The Prime minister's dependence on the votes of Arab and far-left MKs, outside of the coalition, is also arousing mounting irritation in the Likud.On the other hand, if Palestinian President Abbas succeeds in reining in the terrorism and the new dialogue with the Palestinians develops, Shas party officials say there is a good chance they will join Sharon's coalition. The Shas votes will probably enable Sharon to implement the withdrawal; without Shas will have to agree to the referendum or call an early election.


Iran's Nuclear Threat

Dick Cheney

What do U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh and Iran have in common? First, Hersh wrote in the New Yorker magazine that the U.S. has mounted clandestine reconnaissance operations inside Iran to identify and locate nuclear facilities. The report was denied by the U.S.Several days later, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney warned that Washington was worried Israel might attack Iran's nuclear facilities; this was Cheney's comment in a MSNBC interview: 'If, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.' And Cheney added: 'We don't want a war in the Middle East if we can avoid it. And certainly in the case of the Iranian situation, I think everybody would be best suited by or best treated and dealt with, if we could deal with it diplomatically'. The U.S. Vice-President went on to say Israel might attack the Iranian nuclear facilities 'without being asked'.This is the most explicit American statement about a possible Israeli pre-emptive strike so far. In 1981, Israel Air Force jets destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in Iraq, which was widely condemned including by the U.S. Later, Israel was credited with preventing the Iraqi dictator from developing a nuclear bomb. As for the Bush administration it has a declared policy of preventing Iran from developing the bomb. Cheney's message that Israel might preempt again, without asking anyone's permission, serves as a warning to European leaders who have been dragging their feet over taking the threat of Iran's nuclear weapons development to the U.N. Security Council and imposing sanctions.Last November, Prime Minister Sharon warned that Iran will probably succeed in enriching uranium for nuclear members by next spring and this would be 'a point of no-return'. General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, the chief of IDF intelligence says Iran might be able to produce the 'bomb' as earlier as 2007. The Iranians are also known to have developed ballistic missiles with a capability of targeting many European capitals. Israeli intelligence sources have revealed the Iranians also have plans for an inter-continental missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

David Essing

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