Newsletter : 6fax0214.txt
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Mandatory IDF Service to be Reduced to 28 Months
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced that in 2010, service for male soldiers would be
lowered from the current three years to 28 months. The decision is based on
recommendations of the Ben-Bassat Committee. Soldiers serving additional time would be
compensated, with improved salaries and conditions for combat soldiers and special forces.
The plan would also result in the elimination of some of the special units, such as Nahal
and Hesder Yeshiva service.
Study: Thousands Would Die in Iran Strike
Thousands of military personnel and hundreds of civilians would be killed if the United
States launched an air strike on Iran to prevent it developing nuclear arms, a British
think tank said in a report released on Monday.
The report by the independent Oxford Research Group said any bombing of Iran by U.S.
forces, or by their Israeli allies, would have to be part of a surprise attack on a range
of facilities including urban areas that would catch many Iranians unprotected.
The London-based Sunday Telegraph said American Central Command, Strategic Command
planners were 'identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an
operation'; U.N. nuclear watchdog agency strips most surveillance equipment from Iranian
"I think there is at least a 50:50 risk of some sort of real crisis, probably with
military action, before the end of next year," said the report's author, Prof. Paul Rogers
of the University of Bradford.
"There is always the possibility that the Israelis do (it). I don't think you can rule
that out," he told Reuters. "For the Israelis, having an Iran which is getting anywhere
close to a nuclear weapons capability is simply not acceptable."
An attack could eventually lead to a lengthy confrontation involving many other
countries in the region, could mean the closure of the Gulf, and would probably have a
"formidable" impact on oil prices, as well as spurring new attacks by Muslim radicals on
Western interests, the report said.
"A U.S. military attack on Iranian nuclear infrastructure would be the start of a
protracted military confrontation," the report said. Such a confrontation would probably
involve Iraq, Israel and Lebanon as well as the United States and Iran, with the
possibility of Arab Gulf states being involved as well.
"Military deaths in (the) first wave of attacks against Iran would be expected to be in
the thousands," it said. "Civilian deaths would be in the many hundreds at least," it
added. "If the war evolved into a wider conflict, primarily to pre-empt or counter Iranian
responses, the casualties would eventually be much higher."
Western states suspect Iran of secretly aiming to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its
nuclear facilities are intended to produce only electricity. Washington and Jerusalem have
said they would prefer to solve the dispute through diplomacy but have not ruled out
The report said an attack by the United States or Israel on Iran would probably spur
Tehran to work as rapidly as possible toward developing a nuclear military option. It said
U.S. forces, already tied down in Iraq, would have a limited number of military options
when dealing with Iran and would have to rely almost entirely on the Air Force and Navy.
Any attack would have a "powerful unifying effect within Iran", bolster the Tehran
government, and mean any future U.S. relationship with Iran would be based on violence.
The report concluded that a military response to the crisis would be a "particularly
dangerous option and should not be considered further."
Netanyahu: "Olmert is Detached from Reality"
Likud Chairman Netanyahu said that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is dangerously
ignoring the Hamas rise to power. "Olmert is detached from reality," Netanyahu told Army
"He did not see that his policy of free withdrawals led to the Hamas victory, and he
did not foresee the firing of Kassams at Ashkelon, and he does not see the Hamas state
that has arisen atop of Gush Dan [the greater Tel Aviv-Netanya area]."
Netanyahu similarly criticized the media for underplaying the Hamas dangers. When Army
Radio interviewer Razi Barkai said, "OK, we've exhausted the diplomatic topic, let's
discuss something else," Netanyahu laughed and said,
"I know that the media has its limitations, but to think that we've exhausted this topic
in two minutes is simply a joke. We have just undergone a veritable earthquake, with the
rise of a fundamentalist-Islamic terrorist organization to power, giving it the ability to
create another Iran right on our border - and we just pass over it as if it were
Olmert, in one of his first public speeches since assuming Prime Ministerial duties a
month ago, said last night that his Kadima Party is the only alternative for the Israeli
public: "On the right is a conservative party that is detached from reality and buried in
slogans of the past - the Likud - while on the left is a radical socialist party led by
Amir Peretz." Olmert also said, "A government headed by myself will not conduct any
negotiations with Hamas."
Both the Likud and Labor responded sharply to Olmert's speech. A Labor Party response
attacked Olmert's mention of a seven-year plan to fight poverty: "The amount he spends on
cigars is more than the minimum wage."
The Likud initiated a campaign Monday emphasizing the Russian invitation to Hamas - and
the French half-hearted approval of such - as an indication of Olmert's perceived
weakness. "Putin and Chirac are giving Olmert a lesson," the new Likud slogan states.
Kadima's new slogan is, "Israel is stronger than Bibi."
Netanyahu told Army Radio "Olmert reveals inexperience in his attempts to deal with a
complex reality that can be dealt with. He allowed Hamas to vote in Jerusalem, gave it
money, brought the partition wall closer to central Israel, and now, after the horses have
run away, he wants to close the barn doors that he left open."
Netanyahu was asked twice if he regarded Olmert as unfit to serve as Prime Minister.
Despite his harsh criticism of Olmert, Netanyahu preferred to dodge this question -
apparently in order to leave open the option of the Likud's joining an Olmert-led
government in the future.
"The Likud will build a wall against Hamas with international help, and we will ensure
that the Jordan Valley and Judean Valley remain a part of the State... It must be
understood that Hamas is not Fatah. You have to listen to them and believe them. Olmert
will withdraw in order to enable another Iran to be built here. I have to tell the public
the truth: This danger can be reduced.
"There is no difference between Kadima and Labor, they are both left-wing parties.
Olmert has taken Peres, and Chaim Ramon, and Dalia Itzik. There is a choice: Either the
Likud policies that foresee developments, or a policy of illusions led by Olmert, leading
to continued strengthening of Hamas."
Outgoing Palestinian Parliament Gives Abbas More Powers
By VOA News
The outgoing Palestinian parliament has given Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas new
powers just days before the Islamic terrorist group Hamas comes to power.
The parliament, which is dominated by Abbas' Fatah party, passed an amendment Monday
allowing him to name judges to a court that can veto laws passed by the legislature. Hamas
leaders called the measure "illegitimate" and vowed to overturn it when the group takes
over the legislature Saturday.
Spokesmen for Hamas also say it has settled on a prime minister who belongs to the
militant group. Earlier, Hamas said it preferred an independent for the post. The group
said it hoped Fatah would join a new Palestinian government, but Fatah has said it would
Olmert Says Constitution a Must; Netanyahu Agrees but Warns Against U.S. Model
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset plenum on Monday that the next
parliament should seek to draw permanent borders and adopt a Constitution to ensure Israel
remains a democratic and Jewish State.
Speaking during a ceremony marking the 57th anniversary of the Knesset, Olmert said:
"The members of the 17th Knesset, which will enter this plenum in a number of months, will
face a series of historical tasks. We will face a major task of establishing Israel as a
democratic and Jewish state. The first step to reaching this objective will be the setting
up of permanent borders. Another object which is no less important will be the realization
of the commitment made in the Declaration of Independence to adopt a Constitution.
"The Constitution will ensure that the State of Israel will act in accordance with
Jewish and democratic ethics. It will ensure the protection of human rights and the
establishment of clear regulations for government and of course the introduction of a fair
system that will protect the rights of the Arab minority," Olmert said.
Olmert added that the Constitution would ensure government stability in a country where
the average life of any government is 23 months. "We need to prevent situations where
ministers are replaced before having time to enter their offices. We need to ensure that
stable government can overcome everyday considerations and take long-term decisions."
Olmert rival Binyamin Netanyahu also voiced unequivocal support for the adoption of a
written Constitution, saying "the reason we need a Constitution is evident in the
democratic elections of our neighbors...democratic elections are necessary but
insufficient condition for democracy."
Netanyahu also warned of the gradual erosion of Israeli democracy: "On the Knesset's
57th birthday I wish to say something because the truth should be told. Despite Israel's
achievements, there is a problem of trust between the Knesset and the voters, between the
public and its representatives, and it is true to say that a dangerously distorted image
of the Knesset has been developed in the heads of the public and I think it is our task to
stop this trend."
He also warned of premising the Constitution on the U.S. model: "The Constitution needs
to protect the citizen from the group, from tyranny, but today it also has to provide
tools for the government to protect itself and the citizens from the reality we live
Israeli Campaign to Nix 'Palestine' Tag on Oscar-Contending Film
Israel and U.S. Jewish groups have lobbied organizers of next month's Academy Awards
not to present a nominated film about Palestinian suicide bombers as coming from
"Palestine," an Israeli diplomat said yesterday.
With Israeli-Palestinian tensions running high, the provenance of "Paradise Now" is as
combustible an issue as its plot in the run-up to the March 5 ceremony, which will be
watched by millions worldwide. A drama about two West Bank men recruited to blow
themselves up in Tel Aviv, "Paradise Now" is a contender for the Oscar in the "best
foreign film" category.
Many Israelis were irked when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in
publishing the nomination, said that "Paradise Now" came from "Palestine."
While the tag remains on the Academy's web site, the diplomat, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said he expected the film to be described as coming from the "Palestinian
Authority" during the awards ceremony.
"Both the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles and several concerned Jewish groups pointed
out that no one, not even the Palestinians themselves, have declared the formal creation
of 'Palestine' yet, and thus the label would be inaccurate," the diplomat said. The
academy could not immediately be reached for comment.
"Paradise Now" was a broad co-production involving an Israeli Arab director and actors,
Palestinian crew and locations, a Jewish Israeli producer and private European
Major Israeli cinema chains have shunned the film, with distributors citing concerns of
low audience turnout, given its generally sympathetic portrayal of suicide bombers.
Palestinians have mostly responded well to "Paradise Now," although some voiced
misgivings at its depiction of one bomber who undertakes his deadly mission because of
social pressure, as well as to avenge the travails of Israeli occupation.
The controversy around "Paradise Now" compounds an already fraught Academy Awards for
Israel, thanks to several nominations garnered by Steven Spielberg's "Munich." A thriller
about the reprisals Israel launched after 11 of its athletes died in a Palestinian raid on
the 1972 Olympic Games, Munich has been accused by pro-Israel groups of skewing history
and criticizing Israel's security policies. Spielberg called the film his "prayer for
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