Newsletter : 6fax0818.txt
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Mr. and Mrs. Olmert to be Under Investigation
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his wife Aliza are soon to be summoned to an
investigation by the State Comptroller's Office on suspicion of receiving illegal profits
worth around $500,000. State Comptroller Judge Micha Lindenstrauss is looking into
allegations that the Olmerts received a substantial reduction on their purchase of a
garden apartment in Jerusalem. According to a report in Ha'aretz, Olmert assisted the
contractor in receiving permits from the city that would allow the construction of two
extra apartments in the building. The company sold the garden apartment to Olmert for
$3,306 per sq. meter, while charging a much higher sum for the other apartment in the
NATO Force Ready to Help in Lebanon, But Not Asked
By Al Pessin (VOA-Pentagon)
17 August 2006
NATO's military commander said he discussed with the United Nations' secretary general
the possibility of sending the new NATO Reaction Force to Lebanon to help keep the peace.
But he said someone at the U.N. decided not to ask for the force. Meanwhile, new concerns
were raised Thursday about how quickly the United Nations would be able to deploy a
substantial force for Lebanon.
The NATO commander, Marine Gen. James Jones, said he discussed the possibility of using
the new NATO force in southern Lebanon with senior U.S. officials, and spoke personally
with Secretary-General Kofi Annan about the idea. But he said, at least for now, the
organization decided not to ask for NATO's help.
The NATO Reaction Force draws on troops from member nations, as the group always does
for its military missions. But this is a standing force, specially trained and always
ready for rapid deployment. "The NATO Response Force is ideally organized, trained and
equipped for that kind of mission," Jones said.
Jones said the 25,000-member force has a command and control system in place, and can
be configured for a variety of missions, ranging from humanitarian assistance to forced
entry. And he notes that it recently passed its certification exercise in Cape Verde, off
the west coast of Africa. "It has been certified," he added. "So it sits there and it's
ready for the uses for which it's intended."
While Jones says the NATO Reaction force is ready, the United Nations is having
difficulty fielding an expanded Lebanon force of its own. The Security Council resolution
passed earlier this month, which led to the current ceasefire, calls for the expansion of
the current U.N. Lebanon force from about 2,000 soldiers to 15,000. France has said it
will lead the force, but a French newspaper reported Thursday that the country would only
send a small number of troops.
U.N. officials have been visiting other countries that have offered forces to determine
just how many troops are available, what their capabilities are and how quickly they can
be deployed. The officials say they hope to be able to send 3,000 additional troops into
southern Lebanon within the next two weeks.
General Jones said he does not know why the United Nations decided not to use the NATO
force for this mission, even just to provide some stability until the U.N. force is ready.
But France's defense minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, gave some indication Wednesday of
why NATO has not been asked to help. In an interview with a French TV station, she said
any southern Lebanon force must have Muslim countries represented so that it does not
appear to be what she called "the Western world against the Muslim world."
Israeli Army Threatens to Destroy Soldiers´ Homes
The bureaucracy rolls on. With its residents still in Lebanon under emergency call-up
orders, the Yesha town of Maaleh Rehavam learned that officials were headed to post
eviction orders on its doors.
Families in Maaleh Rehavam - a small outpost community in eastern Gush Etzion - were
surprised to note Thursday morning that Civil Administration officials were on their way
to post eviction orders on their homes. Of the 30 residents, including five families, five
are in Lebanon after having been called up on emergency basis this past month, and two
others are in the standing army.
Some town officials believe that the army wished to take advantage of the situation in
which a quarter of the men were away to give out the notices. "It is shocking to think,"
town secretary Moriah Halamish said, "that with war happening on two fronts, north and
south, the defense establishment finds the time to give out these orders.
"The State is taking advantage of the fact that our men were drafted to war in order to
fulfill this new expulsion decree. Good citizens go off to fight with emergency orders,
and are then forced to return to receive a slap in the face in the form of an eviction
notice on their doors."
Others feel the truth is more mundane: "The bureaucracy has a calendar and a schedule,
and no one thinks whether now is a good time to do it or not; it just gets done." So says
Nadia Matar, co-chairperson of Women in Green, a grassroots Land of Israel organization.
"The previous orders expired," she said, "and they have to be renewed, and that's it.
There's no consideration as to whether right now, with people still on the front lines in
Lebanon, it might not be a good idea to go ahead with destroying Jewish homes."
The community is not illegal - but neither has it been officially approved, and for
this reason, the government says it plans to destroy it, in keeping with its promise to
the US to raze all "unauthorized" outposts. The radical left-wing Peace Now organization
has filed a court suit, demanding to know why the government has not yet implemented the
demolition orders it issued regarding Maaleh Rehavam and other small communities
throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Analysis: A 'Mini-Iran' Emerging in Southern Lebanon
Thursday was supposedly a historic day in Lebanon. For the first time in 30 years, the
Lebanese Army deployed south of the Litani River. This time, too, as was expected, the
civilians threw rice at yet another military force.
But, as the leading Lebanese officer on the scene read out the unit's orders, the real
picture emerged: "The army will deploy on the wounded Lebanese land alongside the men of
the resistance." In other words: The Lebanese Army has not plans to drive Hizbullah out of
the South or to confront them.
Lebanon's president and commander in chief of the army, Emile Lahoud, made it clear on
Wednesday that Hizbullah would not be disarmed, not even in the area south of the Litani
River. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah may have promised that his men would not carry
their arms openly but they could rebuild their bunkers and fill them up with rockets in
preparation for the next confrontation in the future.
Meanwhile, the deployment of the multinational force is being delayed, and France is in
no rush to send many soldiers. UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed a week ago, is
already on the path to becoming meaningless. While the Americans are declaring that the
new forces in southern Lebanon will not allow Hizbullah to resume their positions along
the border, Nasrallah is proving them wrong. His forces are patrolling without hindrance
in the villages of southern Lebanon (some of them not having left during the fighting);
they are recording the Israel Defense Forces activities, and are giving interviews, while
armed, to Arab television stations.
These developments are worrisome to the other religious groups in Lebanon that fear an
Iranian-Syrian takeover in the South. Walid Jumblatt, Sa'ad al-Din Hariri and others
sharply criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad for his efforts to intervene in domestic
Lebanese politics. But as far as they are concerned, the real threat stems from
Hizbullah's plans to reconstruct southern Lebanon, using billions of Iranian dollars that
are meant to further establish the organization in the country by pushing aside the
It is not surprising therefore that there are celebrations in Tehran: Thursday, a
public transport company there announced a day of free travel in the Iranian capital to
celebrate Hizbullah's victory over Israel. In the wake of the Israeli invasion, it turns
out that the regime of the Ayatollahs is on the verge of witnessing the realization of its
dream for a "mini-Iran" in southern Lebanon.
It turns out that the political and military echelons in Israel were no less concerned
than Hizbullah over the war of perceptions. Ministers recall that Olmert's aides joked
about the possibility that he would make a victory speech in Bint Jbail, the site of
Nasrallah's speech on Israel's spider web in May 2000. The Shin Bet security service's VIP
protection detail would have never authorized this, but the mere fact that it was
discussed is an indication of how surrealistic the conversations became among decision
The IDF carried out three operations in Bint Jbail during the war, and did not conquer
it because of its sprawling urban character. The public are not alone in not understanding
the army's plans; the officers are hard pressed to comprehend them too.
During the war, Olmert bypassed Defense Minister Amir Peretz on a number of occasions
and worked directly with Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. While relations became frayed, no one
in the cabinet or the General Staff challenged their decisions.
Since the passing of the favorable resolution, Israel has to withdraw from the
territory it has occupied, following heavy losses; but Hizbullah continues to
Costa Rica Moving Embassy From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv
Costa Rica, for years one of only two countries to recognize Israel's capital as
Jerusalem, has now decided to move its embassy to Tel Aviv. El Salvador's will soon be the
only embassy in Jerusalem.
"The Israeli government expresses its regret and disappointment at Costa Rica's
decision to move its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv," a statement from Israel's
Foreign Ministry responded. "This step, with its current timing, can be interpreted as
yielding to terror and rewarding its perpetrators. A united Jerusalem is the eternal
capital of the nation of Israel and its state, and this [move by Costa Rica] will not
change our firm stand on this issue."
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced the plans for the embassy move, explaining
that it was necessary in order for his country to be in compliance with international law.
"It's time to rectify a historical error that damages us on the international level and
deprives us of any friendship with the Arab world," Arias, a Nobel Prize laureate,
announced. "This is not about offending the dear Israeli people with whom we have and will
continue to have close ties... rather; it is about respecting international law."
The Foreign Ministry of El Salvador, now the only other nation to have its embassy in
Jerusalem, issued a statement shortly after Arias's speech, saying it would remain and
leveling veiled criticism at its Central American neighbor. "Given the state of affairs in
the Middle East, any decision on the location of the Salvadoran embassy should seek to aid
the pacification of the region and not affect the fragile and delicate equilibrium that is
being established," it said.
The US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, calling for the relocation of
the US embassy from Tel Aviv. A provision in the act, however, allows the president to
postpone its implementation through a waiver issued every six months. So far, both Bill
Clinton and George W. Bush have prevented its implementation and US citizens born in
Jerusalem do not have "Israel" written on their passports as their country of birth
instead the space is left blank.
Mel Gibson Gets 3-Years Probation
Film superstar Mel Gibson was sentenced to three years' probation, a year of alcohol
abuse treatment and a fine, after entering a plea of no contest, a prosecutor said. "This
was an appropriate outcome which addresses all the public safety concerns of drinking and
driving," said Deputy District Attorney Gina Satriano.
The actor's attorney entered the plea on his behalf before Malibu Superior Court Judge
Lawrence Mira, said Satriano. Gibson did not appear in court. Gibson's arrest on July 28
shocked the world with his alleged anti-Jewish slurs in a drunken state.
Gibson, 50, had been set to face the judge on September 28 in the Malibu, California
courtroom. He was arrested on July 28, allegedly driving while drunk and allegedly with an
open bottle of tequila in his car.
The TMZ.com celebrity website released a police report, in which the devout Roman
Catholic director of the blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ" referred to "f...ing
Jews" after his car was pulled over. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the
world," he was quoted as saying in the report after first asking the arresting police
officer: "Are you a Jew?"
Gibson was charged with driving under the influence and driving with a .08 or higher
blood-alcohol content. The Oscar winner was also charged for allegedly having an open
bottle of tequila in his car.
Judge Mira ordered the actor to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week
for four and a half months and then three AA meetings per week for seven and a half more
months. He also ordered Gibson to enroll in an alcohol abuse program for three months.
In addition, Gibson was fined a total of $1,300 and his license was restricted for 90
days. In exchange for his plea, the two remaining charges were dismissed.
Gibson volunteered to perform in a public service announcement on the problems of drinking
and driving, Satriano said, and he volunteered to immediately enter into
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