Sunday, December 10, 2006
Peres: Unite against Iran and prevent war
Some headlines and summaries from JTA
A united international community could prevent a war against Iran, Shimon Peres said.
“Iran’s strength derives from the weakness of the international community,” the Israeli vice prime minister said Saturday at the Saban Forum, an annual colloquy of U.S. and Israeli leaders, taking place this year in Washington.
“If there was an international coalition, there would be no need to go to war against Iran, and Iran would return to its natural dimensions.”
It was not clear what possible war Peres was describing, or who would fight it; the comments were made in a closed forum with former President Clinton and provided afterward to reporters in Hebrew translation by Peres’ spokesman.
Israel backs U.S. and European efforts to sanction Iran until it gives up enriching uranium, a step toward manufacturing a nuclear weapon.
Peres described a range of options to prevent Iran’s nuclearization, according to his spokesman: monitoring its missiles with nuclear warhead capability; economic sanctions; limiting its oil production; and assisting regime change.
U.S. says Hezbollah has Iraq role
The United States believes Iran is using Hezbollah to target U.S. forces in Iraq.
Reports have proliferated in recent weeks about Shi’ite insurgents training with Hezbollah during its war this summer against Israel on the Israel-Lebanon border.
Speaking on background, a Bush administration official confirmed to JTA on Saturday that the reports have been substantiated.
“We are deeply concerned at the increasing Iranian role, both directly and through insurgents, including through Hezbollah, to elements in Iraq engaged in violence against our forces,” the official said.
Livni: Promote alternative to Hamas
Israel and the West must help Palestinian moderates create an alternative to the Hamas government, Israel’s foreign minister said.
It was not enough to bolster Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president and the leader of the relatively moderate Hamas party, Tzipi Livni said last Friday at a State Department gala dinner in Washington.
“We have to find a way to strengthen, to create a genuine alternative to the Hamas government — and a genuine alternative is not only a presidency,” Livni said at the dinner, which launched this year’s Saban Forum, an event that brings together Israeli and U.S. leaders.
Until now, U.S. and Israeli policy has been to accept the reality of a Hamas government but to deal only with Abbas until Hamas renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel.
Livni’s thesis was that Hamas was irredeemable, but she would not elaborate for fear of appearing to interfere too heavily in internal Palestinian business.
“I hope we can find a way to empower the moderates in the Palestinian Authority,” she said.
Congress condemns Iran conference
The U.S. Congress unanimously condemned Iran’s conference questioning the Holocaust.
Last Friday, the last day of the 109th Congress, both the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed resolutions condemning the conference to be held Monday and Tuesday in Tehran.
The resolutions were sponsored by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Both resolutions cited Iran’s Holocaust denial in the context of the international community’s efforts to roll back what is believed to be Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
“The Iranian regime’s public anti-Semitic, anti-U.S. and anti-Israel policies underscore the threat posed by a nuclear Iran,” Hastings said in a statement.
“Given the authoritarian regime’s proposed nuclear aspirations, Iran now poses a substantial and credible threat to not only its neighbor, Israel, but also to the United States and to the entire international community.”
Israeli arms sales up
Israel’s arms exports are reportedly at an all-time high despite the setbacks of the Lebanon war.
The latest edition of Defense News journal reported that by late November, Israel had tallied some $4.1 billion in new foreign weapons orders for 2006, outdoing the previous record year, 2002.
The figures made Israel the world’s fourth-biggest arms seller after the United States, Russia and France.
According to Defense News, Israel’s foreign arms clients have been placing orders despite the difficulties faced by Israeli forces in driving back the poorer-equipped Hezbollah during the Lebanon war.
Feds: Illinois man contemplated shul attacks
An Illinois man indicted on charges of planning grenade attacks on a shopping mall considered an attack on synagogue-goers, authorities alleged.
Federal authorities last Friday announced the arrest of Derrick Shareef, 22, alleging he had planned to plant grenades in garbage cans at a shopping mall in Rockford, Ill., about 90 miles west of Chicago.
A transcript of a conversation with an informant reported Shareef saying that Israel’s war with Hezbollah this summer enraged him and he had identified synagogues in the DeKalb area for a stabbing attack.
“I knew that they do their thing on Saturdays, right,” the indictment quotes Shareef as saying.
“I was like, I’m gonna lay low out here, I’m gonna camp out overnight, be out there on Friday night after Jumma Friday payer or Saturday morning about 12:00 or 1:00, I be there. And as soon as I see them fools going in the building, I had planned on trying to grab one, depending on how it was, n****** trying to run in the building all at once and open up shop, I was just going to go over there and shank one or two of them.”
He also is recorded as saying: “They definitely gonna know that this s*** ain’t over, and they not as safe as they thought.”
U.S.: Israel can help moderate Palestinians
Israel can bolster Palestinian moderates by easing conditions, a top U.S. official said.
David Welch, the top U.S. State Department envoy to the Middle East, called on Israel to hew to a year-old U.S.-brokered agreement to allow Gaza Strip commerce to traverse through Israel, and to ease roadblocks in the West Bank.
“I think Palestinian public opinion would be powerfully affected by working to relieve restrictions on access and mobility as called for in an agreement reached with United States help last November,” Welch said last Friday at a State Department gala dinner that launched this year’s Saban Forum, a get-together for U.S. and Israeli leaders.
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