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Iranian Bomb 2010

IDF Intelligence: 'Our Worse Case Scenario Is That Iran May Acquire The Bomb In Early 2010!'

Prime Minister Olmert: 'Possible To Reach Written Understandings With Palestinians By End Of 2008'

'Israel Will Not Agree To Return Of Palestinian Refugees – They Must Be Resettled In Palestinian State'

Iranian missiles

In what might be one of his last briefings to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee - outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert summed-up Israel's strategic situation. His briefing came against the background of his Kadima party's leadership primaries on September 17th, to select a new party leader. IsraCast reports that at  the closed door briefing, a senior IDF intelligence officer warned that if all goes well for Iran, it could acquire nuclear weapons by early 2010.

PM Ehud Olmert (Photo: Amit Shabi)

'Iran has made several technological successes recently and if it does not hit any hitches it could acquire nuclear weapons by early 2010!' That was the the assessment of a senior IDF intelligence officer - Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz . At the closed door session, the officer stressed this would be the case if the Iranians continue to overcome problems in their nuclear program. The Iranians were stonewalling the international community and were not worried about any new sanctions which could dissuade from producing the bomb. In light of this, Iran was preventing international arms inspectors from doing their jobs.

Palestinians: in the Gaza strip, Hamas was preserving the current Tahdia cease-fire and any of the minor violations, such as yesterdays launching of one Qassam rocket at Sderot, were carried out by one of the smaller radical organizations. At the same time, Hamas was continuing to build up both its offensive and defensive capabilities. It was producing more Qassam rockets, trying to achieve a longer range and improve accuracy, as well as constructing new positions and bunkers inside the Gaza Strip. Egypt was acting more to stop the smuggling from its Sinai territory into the Gaza Strip but this was not proving to be very effective. Quantities of weapons and explosives were still flowing into Gaza.

On the other hand, Israel has substantially increased humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip from her territory. At present, 770 trucks loaded with food, medicine and other supplies, drive into Gaza every week from Israel - that's 300 more than before the current cease-fire.

The Iranian Missile Range

On the West Bank, President Mahmoud Abbas has taken action against Hamas charity organizations but not against the Hamas terrorist wing. This Abbas leaves to Israeli security forces. In his presentation, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pressed for agreements as quickly as possible with both the Palestinians and Syria. In his words:  'Every day that passes means Israel will have to pay a higher price in the future'. In his view, the international community was now considering more favorably the idea of one bi-national state for both Israelis and Palestinians. This is an anathema for most Israelis. In order to obviate this possibility - Olmert felt it was imperative to reach an agreement with the Palestinians on final borders for Israel and Palestine as soon as possible. At the same time, this would not mean implementing the agreement immediately because Israel should not give up territory as long as the threat of Palestinian terrorism continued. The outgoing prime minister also stressed that Israel could not accept the return of Palestinians refugees. Nonetheless, Olmert was convinced it was possible to reach written understandings on the question of final borders with the Palestinians by the end of the year.

Syrian President Bashar Assad

Syria: the price for peace with Syria would be high, Olmert said, but worth it. He was apparently referring to and Israeli return of the Golan Heights to Syria. At present, Syrian president Bashar El-Assad was conducting a two track approach - on one hand a peace initiative with Israel and renewing contacts with the west as reflected by the recent visit of the French president Sarkozy, while also maintaining close ties with Iran. This seems to be paying off for the Syrian leader. On the ground, the situation between Israel and Syria was quiet along the Golan Heights, although Syria was continuing to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Russia: Olmert said that Israel could not ignore Russia as a world power and a 'deep and intimate dialogue was being conducted between Jerusalem and Moscow'. And the Israeli leader went on to disclose 'Vladimir Putin has told me that Russia would not play a one-sided role as it had in the past in totally supporting the Arabs'.

At the briefing, several Knesset members wanted to officially bid farewell to the outgoing prime minister, but Olmert said this would not likely be his last appearance before the committee.

David Essing

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