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THIS WEEK 14.01.05

Palestinians Elect 'Moderate' Mahmoud Abbas As President And Then Carry Out Suicide Bombing Murdering Six Israelis

Target Is Israeli Karni Cargo Terminal For Supplying Medicine and Food To Palestinians in Gaza Strip

Prime Minister Sharon Courts Shas

Russia Plans To Sell Sophisticated Missiles To Syria

Pro & Con - Stanley Fischer Named Governor Of Bank Of Israel

THIS WEEK, a review of some of the main news stories in the week ending January 14th.

Karni Bombing (from Al-Jazeera)

10:45 Thursday night, Israel's Karni Terminal to the Gaza Strip: In a good will gesture to the Palestinians, Israel keeps the busy terminal open until 11 at night. Palestinian trucks drive up to a gate in the security wall at the terminal to load medicine, food and other products for Palestinians in Gaza. The Karni terminal has been targeted previously by terrorists and the wall has been built to protect Israelis working inside the terminal. One of the vehicles is a Palestinian truck bomb packed with more than two hundred pounds of explosives. The truck bomb blows up blasting a hole in the wall. Three suicide bombers then dash through the breach, open fire with automatic rifles and detonate themselves near Israeli employees in the terminal. Six Israelis are killed and five others are seriously injured. Part of the terminal was demolished by the huge blast.

It was the first major terror strike since the election of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obviously it was a signal from the terrorists that, election or not, they will carry on the bloodshed and violence. It is also typical of Palestinian reaction to the gestures by Israel to make their lives easier. The Karni terminal which is manned by Israelis for the benefit of the Palestinians will now be closed indefinitely. Other Gaza terminals have also been closed due to terror attacks.

Last month, an IDF soldier and his dog were blown up by a Palestinian bomb at the Karni terminal. It is the same story at IDF roadblocks in the territories. When the military eases up, the terrorists exploit the opportunity for carrying out attacks, even using women and children to smuggle in explosives.

The Six Victims

Then, there is a hue and cry when stringent measures are re-imposed.

The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades of the mainstream Fetah, the organization of Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas claimed responsibility for the Karni bombing. From Israel's point of view it really makes no difference which organizations were involved. Mahmoud Abbas has been elected President of all the Palestinians and as such, he will bear responsibility for all Palestinian attacks. This week, IDF Intelligence chief General Zeevi Farkash said he did not believe Abbas would take on the terrorists. Last week, Shabak security Chief Avi Dichter said the same thing; it will now be up to Mahmoud Abbas to prove them wrong if the political process is to go anywhere. Transport Minister Meir Sheetrit, who runs the Karni terminal, says the Palestinian leadership must have 'zero tolerance' to terrorism. In fact, a senior IDF commander in Gaza says the Palestinian Authority is not lifting a finger. On this score, how come Palestinian security forces did not spot the truck bomb on their side before it reached the terminal? Despite the current expectations after Arafat, the outlook is not that rosy. The Palestinian media report that President Abbas has no intention of confronting the terrorists. Moreover, Israeli intelligence sources say Iran and its proxy Hizballah in south Lebanon are going all out, urging the terror groups to step up their attacks on Israel. And what are Israelis to think, when they again see Palestinians in Gaza, dancing in the streets celebrating the deadly Karni attack!

It has been said of Arafat's involvement in terrorism, that he 'would himself start the fire and then pretend to be the fireman rushing to put it out!' Even if Mahmoud Abbas does not start the fire, does he not have the obligation to catch and punish those who do?In any case, the Palestinians got high marks for conducting the 'democratic' election of Mahmoud Abbas. True Palestinian voters could cast a secret ballot, but they were often forced to vote. For example, Palestinians wishing to enter Israel on election day were turned back by Palestinian police unless they proved they had voted. Sharon Court Shas If Mahmoud Abbas is skating on 'thin ice' so is Israel's Prime Minister Sharon. True, Sharon could make two carve two more cuts in his gun-belt with the Knesset approval for his disengagement cabinet and the new state budget. However, if IsraCast and other commentators, foresaw that Sharon would not be able to carry out the withdrawal without Labor, nobody predicted he would also need Shas. It's doubtful if even Sharon thought he would have to go 'hat in hand' beseeching the second ultra-orthodox party to join his government. But this is now the case, if the PM wants to stem the Likud rumbling from erupting into a crescendo against Sharon's de facto alliance with Arab and far left MKs on withdrawal. Shas will obviously exploit its leverage for all its worth. Well when skating on thin ice, you better keep moving or else you'll go under; this now applies to both Abbas and Sharon. President Bush talks of the Palestinians halting the terrorism and Israel playing her part; however, time is short in light of the terrorists drive to torpedo any step to improve the lot of the Palestinians.

New Russian arms sales to Syria Prime Minister Sharon traveled to Moscow last year for what was described as a friendly and productive meeting with President Vladimir Putin. There were even reports of Israeli-Russian cooperation in combating terrorism. After the reports of new Russian arms sales to Syria, Israelis may ponder: 'With friends like these, who needs enemies?'

Remember, Russia is also building Iran's nuclear reactor. IDF intelligence estimates the Iranians will be able to start enriching uranium for their nuclear weapons program within six months. The Iranian 'bomb' produced with Russian technology could be produced as early as 2007. The Ayatollahs make no bones about their desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth; Rafsanjani is on record saying so publicly. Now enter Syria which hosts the Palestinian terror organizations as well as acting as weapons conduit for Hizballah in south Lebanon. Moreover, Damascus is also under fire from the U.S. for supporting the terrorist onslaught against the American effort in Iraq.

What would Moscow's reaction be say if sophisticated Israeli missiles wound up say in the hands of Chechnyan terrorists?

Bank of Israel Governor Fischer The choice of Prof. Stanley Fischer as Governor of the Bank of Israel has aroused some local criticism. Everyone agrees that Fischer is a world renowned economist with impeccable credentials. He is also a 'warm Jew' who has played a role as advisor from time to time; most notably in the big anti-inflation program in the eighties. Only one problem, Fischer is an American, not an Israeli citizen.

The critics feel there is something wrong about a non-Israeli taking over the country's central bank and they add there are a number of Israeli economists who are qualified. Labor MK Beiga Shochat, a former finance minister, charges that Prime Minister Sharon and Finance Minister Netanyahu simple could not agree on an Israeli candidate; so they offered the job to Fischer who accepted. The critics add the Governor should know the 'ins and outs' of the Israeli economy and what makes it tick.

These are the arguments against appointing Fischer. However, there are more important reasons for giving him the job. First, Fischer's reputation will certainly lend prestige and economic credibility to the state of Israel in financial circles of the world. Moreover, the fact that Fischer is an outsider may be more of an asset than a debit. Maybe he will not be swayed by vested interests from whatever quarter, economic or political and be ready to 'call it as he sees it'. The fact that the Prime Minister and Finance Minister could not see eye to eye further illustrates the political infighting that surrounds the position. Granted the Governor sets monetary and not fiscal policy, but with policies which have created the huge gap between rich and poor, one wonders about just how good Israel's economic planners have been over the years.

In addition, Fischer is a superb choice for his experience of the global economy and foreign money markets.

It is not the same as importing a 'foreign' Attorney General' or IDF Chief of Staff as some had chided.

'The 'patriotic' argument about his not living here may be understandable, but only in part. Do we not love to talk about how the Jewish people are one, whether we live in Israel, the U.S. or Ethiopia?

Why then, if Fischer is willing to give up millions of dollars in order to do something for Israel, should there be any second thoughts about it? Surely, he is a Jew who is coming not to take but to give of his work and expertise to the Jewish state. Is this not what is called Zionism?

David Essing

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