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Iran Threatens Israel
Israel Faxx News Services

A senior Iranian cleric said his country would fire missiles at Tel Aviv if attacked. "If they militarily attack Iran, they should be afraid of the day when our missiles with 2,000-km. range will hit Tel Aviv," Ahmad Khatami told state television. Khatami is a member of the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that supervises Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khatami described the cease-fire that ended the war in Lebanon this week as a triumph for Hizbullah, which Iran sponsors. "I congratulate Hizbullah for its victory, which was the victory of Islam. This was a disgraceful defeat for America and the Zionist regime," he said.

US Blasts Iran, Syria, for Lebanon Comments

By David Gollust (VOA-State Department)

The Bush administration Tuesday sharply criticized Iran and Syria for claiming victory for Hizbullah in the Lebanon conflict. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres meanwhile, who met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said Hizbullah may have lost half of its mainline fighting force.

The Bush administration said that despite its claims of victory, the conflict was a strategic setback for Hizbullah as well for its two main international sponsors. And the State Department's chief Middle East policy expert is taking the leaders of both Iran and Syria to task for comments he says aim to take political advantage of a regional tragedy.

Speaking at Washington's Foreign Press Center, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch lashed out at comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejahd and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad glorifying Hizbullah, which started the conflict July 12 with a kidnap raid into Israel.

Welch said it is a sad situation when leaders of other countries can, as he put it, stand on the rubble of Lebanon in the aftermath of the conflict and proclaim victory for their vision of the Middle East:

"I find it terrible that the president of Iran, who seeks to have his nation respected in the international community should take advantage of this tragedy in the manner he is doing," said Welch. "As for the president of Syria, you can make your own judgment about the quality of his discourse throughout this crisis and his recent speech. It's once again a signal of how little they add to the solution of these conflicts, how instead they're trying to pile on popular emotion and anger at a time of tragedy for their own selfish advantage."

Both the Syrian and Iranian presidents said Tuesday the war had been a victory for Hizbullah and a defeat U.S. policy aims in the region.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed the remarks as blustering, and said once last Friday's U.N. Security Council resolution is implemented, Hizbullah will no longer be a state-within-a-state with the ability to roam free along the Israeli border.

Peres, who met privately with Rice, told reporters here that recent rhetoric notwithstanding, most Arab countries, are pleased about the curbs being put on Hizbullah, which he depicted as an Iranian foreign legion in the Middle East:

"This is in fact today an Iranian armed division, by training, by weapons, by command, by finance," said Peres. "We estimate that Iran provides the Hizbullah with over $100 million a year. They're a paid Iranian force, no matter what the names. Most of the weapons came from Iran, with Iranian instructors in Lebanon. Hizbullah fighters are being trained, part of them, in Iran. So we look upon it as a foreign legion."

Peres said Israel estimates that half of Hizbullah's core fighting force of about 2,500 terrorists were killed or wounded in the 34-day conflict.

A senior official traveling with Peres said Israel believes Iran and Syria may already be trying to re-supply Hizbullah, and that it is looking to the international community to enforce the arms ban included in last week's U.N. resolution.

McCormack said the Bush administration's immediate priority is expediting formation of the reinforced U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL, called for in the resolution. He said Rice discussed the issue by telephone with Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy of France, and that U.S. military planners were in New York meeting with U.N. officials.

The United States will not contribute troops to the expanded UNIFIL but has offered logistical help.

Peretz in Search of Dialogue with Belligerent Syria


Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that Israel should prepare for dialogue with Syria. Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, on the other hand, continues saber-rattling threats against Israel.

"Every war creates political opportunity," Peretz declared on Tuesday. "We must renew dialogue with the Palestinians and Lebanon, and prepare for talks with Syria as well." According to the defense minister, because Israel's enemies now understand that "by force they can not defeat us," this is the moment to open negotiations with them.

Peretz made his comments at a ceremony for Bar-Mitzvah-age children of fallen IDF soldiers. He told the assembled orphans that the sacrifices of the soldiers who fell in Lebanon were not futile, "for without the operational efforts we would not have been able to reach the [current] diplomatic achievement."

On Tuesday morning, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said: "Israel has been trying for decades to gain acceptance in the region. What Israel should know is that every generation has more hatred toward it than the generation before."

Speaking to the Fourth General Assembly of Syrian Journalists, Assad declared that future generations of Arabs will thoroughly crush Israel. His statements were greeted by the audience rising to its feet and cheering, "With spirit and with blood, we will defend you, O Bashar!"

Assad's Tuesday morning speech mirrors comments he made, one day previously, to the Egyptian weekly Al-Usbu'a. The Syrian leader reiterated his country's intention to "liberate" the Golan Heights, adding that the chance of a real peace with Israel was low.

Assad also took the opportunity to chide the Lebanese government for insisting, after almost 20 years, on the removal of Syrian forces from its territory in April 2005. He accused Lebanese leaders of deliberately trying to weaken the Hizbullah and other forces he called "nationalist." "What happened?" Assad asked, "Syria left and the nationalist forces became much stronger."

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday that Syria will have to make a choice whether to continue its support of Hizbullah attacks or to allow Lebanon to build a strong future. "Syria will need to decide where they stand," she said. "Lebanon is supposed to take off in a different direction without them, or they can continue wielding influence [there] and lead an open war front with Hizbullah."

Regarding Hizbullah or any other forces that may try to harm IDF soldiers in the field, Peretz threatened that they would be met with Israel's full power. He also said that Israel would insist that the United Nations forces in southern Lebanon be able to enforce the current cease-fire terms between Israel and Lebanon.

Israeli Military Starts Withdrawing From Lebanon

By VOA News

The Israeli army has begun withdrawing from Lebanon as the ceasefire with Hizbullah guerrillas in that country has generally held for a second day. Lebanese officials said Israeli soldiers have pulled out of Marjayoun, a town they captured last week.

Military Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told Army Radio that the Israeli handover to the new forces could be completed within 10 days. The Israeli army also said Tuesday that Israeli troops in southern Lebanon killed at least three Hizbullah fighters in two separate incidents.

Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli army said Hizbullah terrorists fired several mortar and rocket rounds at Israeli positions in Lebanon. No casualties were reported.

In northern Israel, residents emerged from bomb shelters for the first time in weeks. The region was hit by thousands of Hizbullah rockets during the conflict. Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said his fighters won a "strategic, historic victory" over Israel. President Bush, however, says the month-long conflict was a defeat for Hizbullah.

Livni: Must Return Kidnapped Soldiers


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni left for New York Tuesday night for a meeting with UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. A primary topic on the agenda will be the return of kidnapped soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

In an interview with Ynet, Livni emphasized that "an end of the fighting does not mean an end of the process…The process of returning our kidnapped soldiers will continue. As long as the soldiers are not returned, the operation is not complete. It is the duty of the Israeli government to bring these soldiers home and it will do so."

Livni spoke with Ynet during her tour of northern communities: Nahariya, Kiryat Shmona, Carmiel and Tiberias. In response to claims that military operations should have continued, Livni said: "Military operations, regardless of duration, could not have produced outcomes. It was necessary to move on and focus on the political phase, which was in motion from the onset of the conflict. I believe that the results of the ceasefire agreement, if implemented, are enough. We will only be able to evaluate this in the long-term, not now."

According to Livni, "Hizbullah is currently crippled. It will not risk clashing with Lebanese armed forces. We must understand that there is a chance that this process can change everything that is happening in Lebanon. I'm referring to a multinational force, an embargo on Syria and Iran, distancing Hizbullah from the border. The true test of the military operation and the political process will take place over time. We need to see, over time, if the clauses of the resolution are implemented."

Regarding her imminent meeting with Annan, Livni stated: "I'm going to meet with the UN Secretary-General in order to ensure that the Security Council resolution is properly implemented. I'm not using this word in order exert pressure, rather I want to confirm that procedures are taking place in accordance with Israel's understanding of the resolution.

"I want to emphasize that the future is not only in the hands of the Israeli government, but also in the hands of the Lebanese government. UNSCR 1701 must be implemented in its entirety and any Hizbullah fire in Lebanon will constitute a violation of the resolution. Hizbullah was called to stop its assaults immediately, not only against Israel, but also against IDF soldiers remaining in Lebanon and I call for a full realization of this ceasefire," she added.

In response to an Ynet question regarding plans to create an inquiry committee to examine government failures in handling the conflict, Livni answered "I think the government is responsible for everything it does. I think it is right to censure things if required, but we need time in order to examine the effects and in order to see if the government behaved correctly."

Livni also addressed the issue of Iranian and Syrian involvement in Lebanon, saying: "UNSCR 1701 is intended to loosen these countries' grip on Lebanon. The resolution is contrary to Iranian interests. They desire a front with Israel via Hizbullah. The resolution prevents this and distances Hizbullah."

"Regarding Syria, it will need to decide where it stands. Lebanon is supposed to take off in a different direction, without it. The Syrians cannot influence Lebanon without Hizbullah," she added.

Additionally, Livni discussed the home front, during meetings with northern mayors: "I visited during the battles, the day after. I think that the Israel government is responsible for dealing with any problem that you bring up. The government intends to do this. Many of these issues will already be discussed in the upcoming cabinet meeting, Sunday."

Holocaust Memorial Condemns Tehran Cartoon Exhibit


A leading Jewish organization sounded alarm bells over the opening in Tehran of a Holocaust cartoon contest. Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, urged the rest of the world to react firmly.

"The current exhibition of Holocaust cartoons in Tehran, Iran, a nation that aspires to nuclear capabilities, and whose president has made genocidal statements against Israel, is a flashing red light signaling danger not only to Israel, but to all enlightened nations. History has demonstrated that silence in the face of evil statements, begets evil actions."

The Iranian organizer said the fair was a response to the publication in scores of western newspapers earlier this year of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad which were first published in a Danish newspaper. Some of the cartoons depicted Muhammad as a terrorist and were deemed offensive by Muslims, sparking a global outcry that marked a new low in relations between the Muslim world and the West.

More than 1,100 Holocaust cartoons from 60 different countries were submitted to the Tehran contest. The winner will be awarded a prize of $12,000 (US).

Poll: Jews Want to Date Portman

By YnetNews

The 15th quarterly UK survey of Jewish men and women and their views on which celebrity Jews they would like to go out on a date with has been published.

In May, pop star Rachel Stevens topped the survey of women which men wish to date, while in August, she was replaced by Natalie Portman. When it comes to Jewish men, David Schwimmer was replaced by former number 3, Sacha Baron Cohen.

The survey by was conducted on the streets of popular Jewish areas in Great Britain. A total of 100 men and 100 women were questioned.

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