Dr. Minerbi: ‘The Vatican Almost Always Sides With The Palestinians Against Israel; This Is Likely To Continue Under New Pope’
‘Vatican Has Remained Silent Over Expulsion Of Christians From Moslem World and Palestinian Territories, Even Bethlehem’
‘Joesph Ratzinger Was Never A Nazi’
(Apr. 22) What is likely to be the attitude of the new Pope, Benedict XVI to the Jewish people as a whole and the State of Israel? In this wide-ranging interview, Dr. Yitzak Minerbi, an Israeli expert on Vatican affairs assesses this question and the Vatican’s approach to how the Moslem world treats its Christian minorities. Dr. Minerbi was interviewed by David Essing:
IDF Chief Of Staff Ya'alon: 'Terror Flare-up On West Bank After Disengagement, If Abu Mazen Does Not Crack Down'
'Yesterday's Palestinian Attack Reflects Trend In Gaza Strip'
Government May Postpone Gaza Withdrawal Because of Religious Holiday
(Apr. 19) IDF Chief of Staff, General Moshe Ya'alon warns of increased Palestinian terror attacks on the West Bank after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that is slated for sometime this summer. On April 15th, ISRACAST interviewed analyst Shalom Harari who revealed that Israeli security services forecast the Palestinians may launch Intifada#3 toward the end of the year.
In the southern Gaza Strip, a Palestinian shooting attack wounded an IDF soldier and an Israeli civilian in the Philadelfi Axis security zone. Meanwhile in a surprise development, the Gaza evacuation may be postponed for three weeks because of a religious holiday.
David Essing reports:
Analyst Shalom Harari: ‘Palestinians May Launch Intifada #3 In September Or Toward End of the Year!’
‘Palestinian President Abu Mazen Is Doing Almost Nothing To End Chaos In The Palestinian Street’
‘Abu Mazen Gives Orders But Old Guard Of Yasser Arafat Does Nothing To Carry Them Out’
(Apr. 15) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has returned home from the Crawford summit with the future of the Roadmap peace process still in doubt. Sharon demands that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) start dismantling the terrorist organizations, which launched over 80 Qassam rockets and mortars at Israeli settlements and IDF positions in the Gaza Strip earlier in the week. In an effort to shore up Abu Mazen, President George W. Bush is sending out two top officials to try and shore up the shaky Palestinian leader.
For an assessment of the current situation, ISRACAST interviewed one of Israel’s top experts on the Palestinian Authority and leadership, IDF Brig. Gen.( Reserve) Shalom Harari of the Herzylia Inter- Disciplinary Center. Harari was interviewed by David Essing:
Analyst David Essing:
‘The Bush - Sharon Summit Was Maintenance Stop On Way To The Roadmap’
‘Bush Rapped Sharon’s Knuckles Over Maale Adumim
While Also Calling On Palestinian President Abbas To Step On The Gas’
(Apr. 12) There were few surprises at the Crawford summit. Although Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed to disagree over settlement building, the American leader stood by his commitments of last April about no Israeli return to the armistice lines of 1949 (1967). In addition, ‘changes on the ground, including existing major population centers, must be taken into account in any final status negotiations’. Moreover, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must ‘stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure’. But of no less importance, was the Israeli - U.S. discussion of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Defense Minister Mofaz:
‘Despite Palestinian Shelling in Gaza, Israel Is Not Giving Up On Mahmoud Abbas’
‘In the North, Hezbollah May Attack Within Hours or Days!’
(Apr. 11) After launching some 80 Qassam rockets and mortars in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian shelling has died down. The Palestinian terrorists targeted Israeli settlements and IDF positions. There was some damage but no Israeli casualties; one Israeli family was saved by the reinforced roof of their home, when it took a direct hit. After Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz telephoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a sharp warning, the shelling petered out. Briefing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Mofaz said Israel has still not given up on the new Palestinian leader. A somber warning came from a senior IDF officer who warned that Hezbollah is planning to heat up Lebanon’s border with Israel.
David Essing reports:
Three Thousand Israeli Policemen Deployed To Prevent Far Right Jewish Worshippers
From Praying on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount
Palestinian Authority Does Nothing To Prevent Terrorists Launching Some
70 Qassam Rockets And Mortars At Israeli Settlements And IDF Positions In Gaza Strip
(Apr. 10) The current ‘cease-fire’ is now facing its gravest crisis. The current flare-up follows several Palestinian violations this past week that culminated in 3 Palestinian youths being shot dead while trying to infiltrate. In Jerusalem, Israeli police have arrested 16 far right Jewish worshippers who tried to ascend the Temple Mount to pray at the site of the First and Second Biblical Temples. Hundreds of years after the destruction of the Second Temple, Moslems built the Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the site and refuse to allow Jews to worship on the Temple Mount.
David Essing reports:
Dr. Dan Schueftan: ‘Roadmap Process Should Deal With Population Mix Within Future Israeli-Palestinian Borders’
‘Exchanges Of Land Inhabited By Israeli Arabs To Palestinian State Is A Solution’
(Apr. 08) Dr. Dan Schueftan, a Middle East expert at Haifa University, contends peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should also deal with land exchanges. In order to avert, future tension and conflict between Jews and Arabs within Israel, and between the Jewish state and ‘Palestine’ one solution could be the exchange of Israel’s ‘little triangle’ which is populated by Israeli Arabs to the new Palestinian state. Dr. Schueftan, who is now completing a book on Israeli Arabs, discusses this issue that is also being considered by some left-wingers in Israel.
Dr. Schueftan was interviewed by David Essing:
Analyst David Essing: 'No Israeli Intention To Start Building 3,500 Maale Adumim Housing Units In Near Future'
'Defense Ministry Announcement Was Result Of Poor Publicity'
Both Israeli and U.S. officials have been working hard to clear up one flap after another in the run-up to next week's summit meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Bush ranch in Crawford Texas. First, there was the leak of what American Ambassador Dan Kurztzer did or did not say; and then the flak over Israel building 3,500 new housing units linking Maale Adumim on the West Bank with Jerusalem. David Essing reports:
PM Sharon: ‘Iran Is Still Bound On Producing Nuclear Weapons: It Will Top My Agenda With President Bush’
IDF Intelligence: ‘Europeans Are Cooperating With Iranian Ploy To Produce One Nuclear Bomb Annually’
(Apr. 04) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s upcoming meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush may be delayed because of the Pope’s funeral; in any case, Sharon presented his positions on a number of issues the two leaders will likely discuss, when he briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today. David Essing reports:
In The Holocaust, The Young Priest Who Carried A Jewish Girl For Miles On His Back To Safety
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: ’Pope John Paul II Was One Of The Greatest Leaders Of Our Time And A Friend Of Israel And The Jewish People’
(Apr. 03) Like people around the globe, Israel and the Jewish people have paid tribute to Pope John Paul II. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called upon Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom to represent Israel at the Pope’s funeral. David Essing reports:
Likud MK Landau: ‘The Battle for Gaza is the Battle for Jerusalem!’
Labor MK Shochatt: ‘Netanyahu Won’t Try to Topple Sharon before Disengagement; Early Election Is More Probable After Withdrawal’
(Apr. 01) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s ruling Likud party was battered from within this week; 27 of Likud’s 40 MKs in the 120 member House voted for the national referendum against the position of their own leader, Ariel Sharon. The Likud’s big guns lined up against Sharon: Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Education Minister Limor Livnat.
The referendum gambit was widely viewed as a device for delaying and perhaps totally tordepoeing the evacuation, which is officially rejected by the Likud although it’s their leader’s idea. So how long can this abnormal, perhaps absurd, situation go in inside the country’s ruling party? David Essing reports:
(Apr. 01) It’s been a dramatic week in Prime Minister Sharon’s drive to carry out his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements this summer. Sharon fought off fierce opposition to the historic move not only from the far right opposition but also from within his ruling Likud party. In the Palestinian Authority, terrorists have shot up the Ramallah headquarters of President Mahmoud Abbas; in reaction a senior Palestinian security of official has resigned. In the first of two installments, David Essing assesses the outcome on the ground and possible future developments in light of a looming split within the Likud:
Likud MK Landau: ’The Prime Minister Has Turned Coalition Into Brothel By Cabinet Appointments To Buy Support For Gaza Withdrawal’
Vice Premier Peres: ’Sharon Has To Consider How Split The Coalition Is Over Disengagement’
(Mar. 30) There has been strong condemnation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to appoint 3 more cabinet ministers and 5 deputy ministers, all of whom support his Gaza withdrawal plan. David Essing reports:
IDF General Zeevi-Farkash:
'Hamas Is Adopting Irish Model Of Political And Terror Wings'
'Terrorists Are Preparing Major Terror Attacks Including Kassam Rocketing From The West Bank'
'Syria Will Not Relinquish Its Domination Of Lebanon Despite Troop Redeployments'
(Mar. 29) Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, the head of IDF military intelligence says Hamas is adopting the 'Irish model' of entering politics while maintaining its terror wing; (Sinn-Fein is the political party while the IRA carries out attacks). The intelligence commander warned that Hamas and other terror groups were preparing major terror attacks including the launching Kassam rockets from the West Bank. The Syrian redeployment of troops in Lebanon was to lessen international pressure; Damascus has no intention of giving up its control over the Lebanese state. David Essing reports:
Israel's Nuclear Reactor At Dimona Can Withstand Very Strong Earthquakes
(Mar. 29) Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, says Israel's Dimona reactor is very safe and can withstand very strong earthquakes. In an interview with IsraCast's David Essing, Steinitz said these were the conclusions of a special team that he lead to Dimona which included experts on geology and earthquakes. Steinitz went on to say that the Dimona reactor is much safer today than it was in the 60's, 70's and 80's because most of its systems were replaced with more modern systems. The Committee chairman added: 'we know more and we are more experienced today. Dimona is not an old reactor now but actually a new nuclear reactor.'
Deputy Premier Olmert:
’Massive Vote Proves There Is No Way To Halt Gaza Withdrawal’
’We’ll Now Call Hundreds Of Thousands Of Protestors To Block The Evacuation’
’There Is No Majority For The Referendum
Which Would Only Deepen Differences Among Israelis’
(Mar. 28) Israel’s Parliament the Knesset has voted down a bill to hold a national referendum on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements. The vote was 72-39 against the referendum in the 120 members Knesset. The referendum is widely viewed as a ruse to block the withdrawal. Prime Minister Sharon’s ruling Likud party split over the referendum with more voting for it than against. In any case, opponents to the withdrawal are not giving up.
David Essing reports:
Sharon-Lapid Deal Guarantees New State Budget Preventing Government's Fall
Gaza Referendum Bill Now Dead Letter
Kurtzer Aftershock - Damage Control
(Mar. 27) It has been an amazing political weekend, even by Israeli standards. First the reported comments of U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer appeared to sabotage Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's drive to implement the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements this summer. But just over 24 hours later, Shinui leader climbed down from a high tree to accept some $160 for Shinui's political interests; this has saved the new budget, prevented the fall of the government and the end to Sharon's withdrawal plans, for the time being anyway. U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer also got into the act by reportedly denying Sharon's claim of a deal with President Bush on Israeli settlements blocs on the West Bank.
Yediot Ahronot Newspaper: ‘American Ambassador Kurtzer Said There Is No U.S. Understanding That Israel Will Maintain Settlement Blocs On West Bank’
‘Sharon Government Will Fall After Gaza Withdrawal; Palestinians Will Then Launch New Wave Of Terrorism’
‘Iranians Should Understand That U.S. Will Launch Missile Strike Against Nuclear Sites Unless Teheran Halts Nuclear Weapons Program’
Ambassador Kurtzer: ‘Press Report Is Full Of Inaccuracies’
(Mar. 25) U.S. Ambassador has startled political circles in Israel and obviously elsewhere by his reported comments. At a closed lecture to Foreign Ministry trainees in Jerusalem, the Ambassador reportedly made some undiplomatic and candid remarks about a number of burning issues. The Yediot Ahronot newspaper today carries banner headlines with a detailed account with quotes from the Kurtzer lecture. The ambassador has issued a statement categorically denying the report which he says is full of many ‘inaccuracies’.
Israeli Arab Allegedly Participated In Deadly Bombing of Tel Aviv Nightclub
Suspect Reportedly Exploited His Israeli Identification And Knowledge To Drive Suicide Bomber to Target
(Mar. 24) A twenty-six year old Israeli Arab citizen from Baka al Garbiyah has been indicted in a Tel Aviv Court for helping to plan and carry out the suicide bombing of the Tel Aviv nightclub last month. The bomb blast murdered five Israelis and wounded fifty others who were queing up to enter the Stage nightclub along the city's popular Mediterranean promenade. David Essing reports:
IDF Chief of Staff Ya’alon: ‘I considered resigning immediately after the false allegations of Defense Minister Mofaz. The affair has damaged the IDF and I have had to persaude officers not to resign in protest’
Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee expresses confidence in Chief of Staff and seeks explanation from Prime Minister Sharon about why General Ya’alon’s term was cut short
(Mar. 22) The furor swirling around what is viewed as the firing of the IDF Chief of Staff reached a new pitch today when General Ya’alon briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee. General Ya’alon presented what he called the ‘facts’ of the affair and wound up with wall-to-wall support from committee members. David Essing reports:
IDF Intelligence: ‘For the first time, Palestinian security forces are actively preventing terror attacks on Israel; but they are not dismantling terror organizations or confiscating illegal weapons’
IDF Chief of Staff Ya’alon: ‘Terror organizations are exploiting current lull to regroup, rearm and retrain’
‘They will hold veto power of when to sabotage peace process’
(Mar. 22) A new dramatic development... for the first time the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are actively foiling terror attacks against Israel. This was disclosed by IDF Brigadier Yossi Kupperwasser in a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. However, on the other hand the Palestinian terror organizations are being left free to build up their strength leaving them a veto power on when to sabotage the peace process. David Essing reports:
Ukraine's Sale Of Cruise Missiles With A Nuclear Potential To Iran
Also Pose Deadly Threat To Europe
(Mar. 21) According to reports published in the British journal "Financial Times" Ukraine has admitted that it exported 12 long range cruise missiles to Iran and six to China in 2001; the missiles were reportedly sold without their nuclear warheads. Ukraine's prosecutor-general told reporters that the Russian businessmen suspected of masterminding the sale, was arrested last July in Prague in response to a Ukrainian warrant. If the new missiles become operational, Iran will be in striking distance of all Middle East states as well as most countries in Europe.
(Mar. 18) Within several days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was said to have persuaded the terror organizations to accept a 'tahadiya' temporary cease-fire with Israel, Palestinian gunmen shot three IDF soldiers and an Israeli policeman on the West Bank. The incident highlights the highest hurdle facing Abbas if he is sincere about halting the violence and working out a peace deal with Israel.
David Essing reports:
Analyst Michael Widlanski: ‘Israeli Security Forces Decided Not To Arrest Palestinian Terror Cell In Tul Kerem Which Later Murdered Five Israelis In Tel Aviv Bombing; At The Time, Israel Did Not Want To Be Seen As Violating Current Lull’
At Cairo Meeting, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Persuades Hamas and Islamic Jihad To Continue Current Timeout, While Pledging Not To Dismantle Terror Groups
(Mar. 18) This week, General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, the chief of IDF Intelligence, declared that Israel is paying a very heavy price in trying to advance the current peace process with the Palestinians. The Intelligence commander did not elaborate? Dr Michael Widlanski, a Middle East analyst at the Rothberg School at Hebrew University, has apparently discovered what the intelligence chief meant. Widlanski tells IsraCast that Israeli security forces were aware of the dangerous terrorist cell in Tul Kerem that carried out the night-club bombing in Tel Aviv, but decided not to smash the ring for fear of upsetting the current lull with the Palestinians. In this interview with David Essing, Dr Widlanski talks of what apparently transpired as well as assessing the outcome of the Palestinian meeting in Cairo:
Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon has said that they will keep their weapons despite US calls for them to disarm and the withdrawal of the Syrian army from the country.
(Mar. 17) In a live interview with Hezbollah's El-Manar television, he made it clear that the weapons would be used only against Israel and not internally in Lebanon.
Nasrallah said, 'We will only call a ceasefire in agreement with the Lebanese when the proper time comes, not when Bush demands. There is a threat from Israel at the moment. As long as this threat continues, our weapons will remain as a guarantee.'
'We are ready to remain until the end of time a terrorist organization in Bush's view, but we are not ready to give up protection of our country, our people, their blood and their honor.'
'What is required is that Hizbollah be disarmed so that Lebanon can be left without protection' he added.
UN secretary general Kofi Annan and his wife Nane, the niece of Raul Wallenberg, who as a Swedish diplomat saved tens of thousands of Jews during the holocaust, in addition to forty presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and mayors, participated in an international demonstration against anti-Semitism at the inauguration of the new holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem.
Shabak security chief Avi Dichter: 'Right-wing fanatics may carry out Doom's Day attacks to prevent disengagement.'
Analyst David Essing: 'Disengagement issue may have become internationalized like Iranian nuclear threat and Syria - Lebanon situation'
(Mar. 15) Palestinian terror attacks have dropped, but the Jewish terror threats have soared over the controversial disengagement issue.
That was the message from the country's top security officials Shabak security chief Avi Dichter, IDF Chief of Staff designate Dan Halutz, and police commissioner Moshe Karadie in a briefing to cabinet ministers. In the bigger picture, analyst David Essing is of the view that the disengagement question may now have been internationalized as part of US president George W. Bush's new multilateral approach to coping with Middle East flashpoints.
David Essing reports:
Sunday Times: 'Israel has approved military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, if diplomatic efforts fail'
Analyst David Essing: 'Apparently report is part of carrot and stick policy being coordinated by US'
(Mar. 13) The British newspaper the 'Sunday Times' reports that Israel’s security cabinet has approved an airborne operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities if all else fails to block the ayatollahs from acquiring nuclear weapons. PM Ariel Sharon was said to have convened the secret session at his Negev farm last month. The newspaper also reported that the US approved the Israeli strike. David Essing says although there is no confirmation on the report, it may be part of a 'carrot and stick' policy now being coordinated by the Bush administration to prevent the Iranians from producing 'the bomb'.
David Essing reports:
The Resolution Was Adopted At The Europian Parlament In Strasburg, France. The Implication Is That All 25 State Members Of The EU Must Relate To Hizbullah As a Terrorist Organization, This Includes France, Which Until Now, Has Opposed To This Move.
(Mar. 13) The resolution was passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 473 in favor and 8 against, with 33 abstentions.
The wording of the resolution says, 'Parliament considers that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities by Hizbullah. The (EU) Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them.'
‘Were such an attack to occur, it would stagger the world economy and thrust
tens of millions of people into dire poverty.’
(Mar. 11) In an address to the special international conference on terrorism held in Madrid, the UN Secretary General warned of the threat from terrorist organizations to carry out nuclear attack. The conference marked the first anniversary of a terrorist strike in Madrid, which killed 191 people.
Kofi Annan stressed:
‘That such an attack has not yet happened is not an excuse for complacency. Rather, it gives us a last chance to take effective preventive action.’
The Palestinian Authority intends to execute within the next few days 15 Palestinians who were condemned for acting against terror attacks
(Mar. 10) At the time that the Palestinians are conducting negotiations on how to prevent terror attacks against Israel, senior Palestinian officials of the Palestinian authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, have disclosed that 15 Palestinians are soon to be executed.
In Israel there is no death penalty even for terrorist killers, however, human rights organizations both in Israel and abroad remained silent over the planned Palestinian executions. The strongest opposition is coming from Former Prisoner of Zion Ida Nudel. The Palestinians may carry out the execution without prior notice in order to prevent international pressure.
Palestinian Authorities Have Approved Executions of 15 Palestinians Who Prevented Terror Attacks
(Mar. 04) At the same time, that the Palestinian Authority calls on Israel to release terrorists who murdered Israelis, the PA is planning to execute Palestinians who acted to prevent the terror attacks.
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Akramah Sabri, the chief Muslim leader, has issued a special edict approving the execution of 15 Palestinians.
(Mar. 02) Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, said in an interview with the Italian newspaper,
La Republica: "…first is that we refer to the United Nations, from which the Resolution was issued. We will respect it…” “…our troops will be redeployed along the Syrian-Lebanese borders, but on the Lebanese side of the border.”
"…the Washington ultimatum has been issued with bad timing: for the 60% of our troops started the withdrawal in 2000.” “…but what is at stake is very important: it touches the core of stability in Lebanon and at our borders.”
Later Assad put off the idea that the Americans would attack Syria.
Sharon Spokesman Raanan Gissin: ‘Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing Is A Direct Challenge By Terrorists To The Leadership Of Mahmoud Abbas’
‘Peace Process Now Depends On Performance Of Palestinian Security Forces Within the Next Few Days’
‘Suicide Bombing Will Not Affect Israel’s Decision To Evacuate Gaza Strip Next Summer’
(Feb. 26) The Palestinian suicide bomber, who murdered and maimed scores of Israelis outside a Tel Aviv nightclub Friday night, is threatening the peace process renewed at the recent Sharm el Sheikh summit. Three Israeli men and one woman were murdered, three arrived DOA at hospital. Some fifty others were injured, some seriously. Again, the explosives were packed with steel nuts and bolts to increase the deadly effect. Dr Raanan Gissin, Prime Minister Sharon’s media advisor, assesses the situation in this interview with David Essing:
Prof. Eyal Zisser: ’Syrian Pledges To Withdraw In Lebanon Are Aimed At Buying Time And Riding Out International Storm’
‘Too Early To Say If Lebanese Protest Demonstrations Will Develop Into Lebanese Intifada Against Syria’s Domination’
‘Russian Sale Of Sophisticated SA-18 Missiles To Syria As Well As Russia Nuclear Aid To Iran, Indicates Moscow Wants To Get Back Into Middle East Game’
(Feb. 25) Just how sincere are the latest declarations by Syrian officials to withdraw their troops in Lebanon to the Be’ka Valley? Why has Syria, after collaborating with guerilla attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, now further defied America by forming an alliance with Iran and in effect joining the ‘Axis of Evil’ of President George W. Bush? After supplying nuclear aid to Iran, Russia is now selling sophisticated weapons to Syria- is this simply to make a fast ruble or does President Vladamir Putin have something else in mind?
Professor Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University, is a leading Israeli expert on Syria - he analyzes these questions and others in this interview with David Essing:
'Former Air Force Commander Dan Halutz Is Right Commander At Right Time For IDF'
'General Halutz Will Apply IAF Star Wars Technology to Ground Forces'
'Look For New Chief Of Staff To Build Smaller, Faster Ground Units With Greater Fire-Power'
(Feb. 24) These are some of the remarks of Knesset Member Eliezer 'Cheetah' Cohen, a retired IAF combat pilot who served with the Air Force Commander who has been named new IDF Chief Of Staff. Colonel Cohen says Halutz was not only a crack fighter pilot who flew the Phantom and F-16, he is known in the IAF as a brilliant planner. In this revealing interview with David Essing, Cohen also talks about how the IAF has become second to none in the air.
Former Israel Air Force Commander Dan Halutz Appointed IDF Chief Of Staff
First Time Air Force Commander Becomes IDF Top Soldier
Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee Blasts Defense Minister Mofaz For Ousting Current IDF Chief Of Staff
(Feb. 22) Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has named former Israel Air force Commander Dan Halutz as the new Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. Halutz, who now serves as Deputy Chief of Staff, takes over from General Moshe Ya’alon, just days before the controversial evacuation of the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements. Meanwhile, in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, there was wall-to-wall criticism of the Defense Minister for not granting the customary extra year to General Ya’alon. While not explaining his decision, Mofaz said time would prove he had made the right decision.
David Essing reports:
Israel Releases 500 Palestinian Prisoners In Good Will Gesture
Sharon Aide Weisglass: 'Current Disengagement Is Only One Of The Cards At Present’
‘No Political Negotiations On Roadmap Unless Palestinians Dismantle Terror Organizations’
Likud ‘Rebels’: ‘We Will Try And Topple Sharon Government Over State Budget, Unless Prime Minister Agrees To National Referendum On Withdrawal’
(Feb. 21) Within twenty-four hours after the historic cabinet decision on withdrawal, Israel has released 500 Palestinian prisoners. This as Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s top aide, spelled out how the Prime Minister views future developments. Meanwhile, the Likud MKs opposed to the disengagement, are threatening to bring down the government over the budget.
David Essing reports:
Settler Leaders: ‘We Are Not Giving Up; The Campaign Is Also To Forestall Future Withdrawals From Judea and Samaria’
Cabinet Approves New Route For Security Fence, Which Now Includes 7% of Palestinian Territory
(Feb. 20) The Israeli Cabinet has voted in favor of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements. The evacuation is slated to begin on July 20th. Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Sharon’s chief rival in the ruling Likud Party, lead 4 other ministers in voting against the disengagement because it did not include a national referendum on the controversial issue. Previously, the cabinet voted for the withdrawal in principle; today the cabinet decided to implement. Last week, the Knesset also voted for the withdrawal plan and the 1$ billion compensation package. Reacting to the cabinet vote, settler leaders declared they would step up their campaign to block the withdrawal.
David Essing reports:
The Knesset Passes Crucial Compensation Law For Gaza Withdrawal
Death Threats To Prime Minister Sharon As Withdrawal Plan Gathers Steam
(Feb. 16) The Knesset has passed the evacuation - compensation bill necessary to carry out Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements this summer. The vote was 59-40 with 5 abstentions. However, as the Prime Minister moves his evacuation plan forward, he may also be facing mounting death threats.
David Essing reports:
Defense Minister Mofaz Refuses To Extend Chief Of Staff's Term
Defense Minister's Step Is Being Viewed As 'Slap In the Face' To General Ya'alon
(Feb. 16) The regular term of service for the IDF Chief of Staff is three years; however, it is customary almost the rule, that this is extended by another year. In fact, it has never happened that a Chief of Staff 'was sent home' after just three years. Now, for whatever reason, Defense Minister Mofaz has informed General Ya'alon that he is not getting another year and will be retired in July, just before the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in northern Samaria.
David Essing reports:
(Feb. 16) As reported by ISRACAST on Feb 1st, Russia is going ahead with the sale of advanced SA-18 ground to air missiles to Syria. Speaking to the Foreign Press Association in Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reacted to this development and the assassination of Rafik Hariri, widely believed to have been engineered by Damascus. Israel has expressed concern that Syria will supply the missiles to Hizballah in south Lebanon, which attacks Israel from across the Lebanese border.
IDF: ‘Identity Of Hariri Assassins Still Unknown, But Syria Is Top Suspect’
Chief Of Staff Yaalon: ‘Israel Expects Palestinian President Abbas To Start Dismantling Terror Groups Within Weeks, Not Months’
‘Israel Never Agreed To Immediately Give Up Check-points Around Jericho’
(Feb. 15) IDF Chief of Staff General Moshe Yaalon has briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on a series of burning issues. One of his top intelligence officers presented an assessment of who might have assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut yesterday. With its long record of murdering its political opponents in Lebanon, Syria is at the top of the list of suspects.
Although praising the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in halting terror attacks, General Yaalon also said Israel expects the new leader to start confiscating the terrorists weapons within weeks not months. The Chief of Staff had tough words for any IDF soldier who refuses to carry out withdrawal orders.
David Essing reports:
PM Sharon: ‘I’m Not Afraid Of Jewish Terror Threats To Me - Final Cabinet Vote On Withdrawal Next Sunday!’
MK Eitam: ‘Sharon Is Manipulating Incitement By Jewish Extremists To Arouse Public Opinion Against Withdrawal’
Warnings: ‘We Got Rabin, We’ll Get Sharon!’
(Feb. 14) A major confrontation between Prime Minister Sharon and his withdrawal opponents erupted in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Sharon said it was clear who was behind the recent wave of incitement by opponents to his withdrawal plan. MK Effi Eitam of the National Religious Party retorted that Sharon was manipulating the incitement for his own political purposes.
David Essing reports:
IDF Intelligence: ‘Palestinian Security Making Genuine Effort To Prevent Terror Attacks On Israel; However, Not Dismantling Terror Infrastructure’
Palestinian Street Has Influenced Hamas To Accept A Time-Out In Attacks, Hamas Has Yet To Agree To Cease-fire’
Israeli Sources: ‘Former Lebanese Leader Hariri Apparently Assassinated By Damascus For Calling On Syria To Get Out Of Lebanon’
(Feb. 14) Brigadier Yossi Kupperwasser, a senior IDF intelligence officer, says there has been a dramatic drop in Palestinian terror attacks against Israel. Briefing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the officer said the new situation reflects the changes carried out by new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. At the same time, the Palestinian Security apparatus was not dismantling the terror infrastructure and Hamas has agreed to a lull in attacks but not a cease-fire.
The Israeli view is that Syria is responsible for the huge car bomb that murdered former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and many others in Beirut. Hariri recently criticized Syria’s refusal to end its occupation of Lebanon.
David Essing reports:
Hamas Shells Israeli Settlements In Gaza Strip...No Casualties
Israel Calls On Palestinian President Abbas To Immediately Halt The Bombardment
Israeli Officials: 'Hamas Is Challenging Abbas Cease-fire With Israel Declared At Sharm el Sheikh'
(Feb. 10) In the Gaza Strip, Hamas terrorists have fired dozens of mortars, Kasam rockets and
anti-tank missiles at Israeli settlements. There have been no Israeli casualties but one
building was hit and the electricity grid was damaged. Hamas says it was reacting to the
death of a Palestinian by IDF gunfire. The IDF says troops opened fire when they
spotted a group of four Palestinians trying to infiltrate the settlement of Atzmona.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held urgent consultations and called on Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately halt the attack; otherwise Israel will be
forced to act. Jerusalem has also been in contact with Cairo and Washington, informing
them of the gravity of the situation. In another development, Hamas gunmen have taken
control of a Gaza jail and released Hamas suspects who had been arrested by the
Palestinian security service.
PM Sharon: ‘No National Referendum On Disengagement; Those Who Warn Of Civil War Are Trying to Block Gaza Evacuation’
Knesset Speaker Rivlin: ‘There Is A Real Danger of Civil War, If No Referendum’
Foreign Minister Shalom: ‘I Will Lead All-Out Campaign For Referendum’
(Feb. 09) Twenty four hours after the Sharm el Sheikh summit, a new drive by Likud members for a national referendum on the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements. Two key officials, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin have come out loud and clear in favor of the referendum. However, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has retorted that there will be no referendum.
David Essing reports:
(Feb. 08) At their Sharm el Sheikh summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have announced a cease-fire. Abbas said all attacks against Israelis everywhere would be halted. The newly elected Palestinian leader declared that the quiet starting today was a new start on the road to peace and the first step toward the Roadmap which calls for Israel and Palestine to live in peace. The cessation of hostilities would grant both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples the opportunity to move swiftly ahead in the peace negotiations.
At the same time, Abbas called for a halt to Israeli settlement activity, and the release of all Palestinian prisoners. He criticized Israel’s building of the security fence to keep out suicide bombers, saying the fence was not conducive to co-existence. As for the permanent settlement, the Palestinians seek a state on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem its capital and the Palestinian leader also said the refugee issue must be resolved in the final status negotiations.
Abbas, as did Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, also called for Syria and Lebanon to be included in the peace process. For his part, the Palestinian leader pledged to keep all his commitments adding that the Palestinian people had opted for peace by voting him into office in last month’s election. He declared that the Palestinians must have ‘one authority and one gun!’ However, Abbas added this must be achieved not by force but through dialogue. David Essing reports:
(Feb. 08) Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have announced a cessation of hostilities at their summit meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Due to the historic importance of the event, ISRACAST presents the translated text of Sharon's address. Further coverage and analysis to follow shortly.
Secretary Rice: 'U.S. Is Appointing General William Ward As Security Co-ordinator Between Palestinians And Israel'
President Abbas: 'I Have Persuaded Hamas And Other Groups To Accept A Cease-fire With Israel'
Israeli Officials: 'Now Up To Palestinians To Deliver On Halting Terrorism'
(Feb. 07) U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has wound up her whirlwind visit to Israel by meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Rice then announced that the U.S. is sending General William Ward to oversee the training of the Palestinian security forces and monitoring security coordination between Israel and the Palestinians. Washington is also making good on a $350 million dollar aid package by sending $40 million dollars immediately. The Secretary’s visit has laid the groundwork for the Sharon - Abbas summit meeting hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el Sheik on Tuesday.
David Essing has this background report:
'Israel & Palestinians Must Be Ready To Make Hard Choices To Advance Peace'
'Israel Should Refrain From Unilateral Steps In East Jerusalem, Palestinians Must Halt Terrorism'
(Feb. 06) U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has begun her visit to Israel by calling on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to leave the status of east Jerusalem to negotiations and not to prejudge the issue by taking unilateral steps. As for the Palestinian terrorism, it was unacceptable and must not be permitted to derail the peace process. On Iran's drive for nuclear weapons, Rice said 'this is the time for diplomacy' to stop Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The Secretary also said it would be 'a mistake' for Russia to sell advanced missiles to Syria, a country which supports terrorism and dominates neighboring Lebanon.
Interviewed on Channel One television by reporter Ayala Hasson, Secretary of State Rice was first asked why she would not be participating in the Sharon-Abbas summit hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el Sheik on February 8th.
The Goal of Sharm El-Sheik Summit - Crossing The Current Crevasse To The Roadmap
Current Phase - ‘Pay As You Go On Installment Plan’
‘Palestinian President Abbas Orders His Security Apparatus To Behave Like U.N. Observers Toward The Terrorists!’
(Feb. 04) Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and newly-elected President Mahmoud Abbas are about to meet at the invitation of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Although both sides have started pulling back from the four and a half years of bloodshed and violence: they are at odds over the scope of concessions in this phase. About to make her entrance on the new Middle East stage is the new U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. David Essing reports:
German President Kohler: ‘Israel Must Be Able To Live Within Internationally Recognized Borders Free Of Terror…My Country Has Proven This Time And Again Through Its Actions.’
‘Germany Will Always Stand By Israel And Its People’
Prime Minister Sharon: ‘Although Israeli-German Relations Are Under The Shadow Of The Holocaust, Germany Is A Firm Friend Of Israel’
Cabinet Minister Naveh: ‘I Boycotted President Kohler’s Speech Because Every Time I Hear German I Think Of My Mother In Bergen Belsen’
(Feb. 02) German President Horst Kohler has addressed the Parliament of the Jewish State in Jerusalem. Kohler is on an official visit marking forty years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. After opening his address in Hebrew, Professor Kohler then said ‘I want to reaffirm here today that responsibility for the Shoah is part of Germany’s identity’ and he added ‘I bow my head in shame and humility before the victims’. He condemned the Palestinian terrorism against Israel saying the terror must end: ‘Suicide bombings are crimes for which there can be no excuse or justification’. The German President visited the town of Sderot, the Israeli town that was repeatedly shelled by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are to Hold a Summit Meeting on February 8th
(Feb. 02) Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has invited Sharon and Abbas to meet in the Egyptian resort Sharm El Sheik on the Red Sea.
Dr. Ra'anan Gissin, prime minister Sharon's media advisor, told David Essing of the development and Israel's expectations for the upcoming visit of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
General Zeevi-Farkash: ‘Palestinian President Abbas Has Deployed Security Forces But Is Not Confronting Terrorists in Gaza’
‘Iran, Hizballah And Syria Are Now Urging Terrorists To Step Up Attacks And Sabotage Israeli-Palestinian Peace Effort’
‘Russia Has Sold Syria Advanced SA-18 Ground To Air Missiles Mounted On Vehicles’
(Feb. 01) Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, the commander of IDF military intelligence, says Palestinian President Mahmoud is depending on persuasion rather than on an active counter-terror campaign to rein in attacks on Israel from Gaza. Although Abbas has ordered his security forces to set up roadblocks and patrol the border area, he is not making arrests or confiscating illegal weapons. The IDF intelligence chief says the Palestinians are not ready to enforce a total cease-fire until the upcoming Abbas-Sharon summit meeting next week. Appearing on Israel Television’s IBA news, Analyst David Essing was interviewed by Yochanan Elrom: