Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Marwan Barghouti Release: Possible Arafat Successor a Terrorist

Naked, bound and splayed, she awaits her rape

Babba Zee
Outraged Spleen of Zion


The Israeli government has informed the Palestinian Authority that it has no objections to the release of jailed Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, a senior PA official in Ramallah said over the weekend.

Barghouti was arrested April 15, 2002

The twin attacks by Fatah gunmen on a Hadera bat mitzvah celebration last week and on Israeli civilian pedestrians in Jerusalem this week have brought back into focus the military wings of the Fatah organization and the responsibility of its leadership, particularly Yasser Arafat and Marwan Barghouti, for these operations.

Ironically, West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti has been touted over the last year in the Western press as one of the possible successors to Yasser Arafat.

Perhaps as a way of making his mark with the U.S. administration, Barghouti, in fact, wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on January 16, 2002, presenting himself as a moderate Palestinian leader with limited political aims, who also renounces terrorism and advocates only the Palestinians' right to self-defense: "And while I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel (emphasis added), our future neighbor, I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom."

Yet one day after Barghouti's piece appeared, a member of Fatah's Tanzim militia attacked the bat mitzvah party, killing six civilians and wounding over thirty. Israeli security sources have firmly established that Marwan Barghouti knew of the Hadera bat mitzvah attack in advance, and gave it his blessing (Yediot Ahronot, January 20, 2002).

Notably, the Palestinian Authority failed to issue its routine condemnation of the subsequent Fatah attack on Israeli pedestrians in Jerusalem (Ha'aretz, January 24, 2002). The entire episode raises questions about Fatah's emerging strategy in this phase of Yasser Arafat's intifada.

Background on Barghouti

Marwan Barghouti was born on June 5, 1960, in the West Bank, outside of Ramallah. He was one of the founders of the Shabiba, the Fatah youth organization; he graduated from Bir Zeit University, majoring in history, and served as a student leader. Fatah, which is a reverse acronym in Arabic for the "movement for the liberation of Palestine," is the largest constituent organization in the PLO, and is headed personally by Yasser Arafat.

Expelled by Israel in the late 1980s, Barghouti served in PLO headquarters in Tunis. He returned to the West Bank in 1994. He was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council, created by the 1995 Oslo II Interim Agreement, in 1996. Barghouti initially came into prominence because of his willingness to speak out against the corruption of the Palestinian Authority leadership. He, thus, tried to distinguish himself from "the Tunisians," the PLO exile leadership that accompanied Yasser Arafat to the West Bank and Gaza Strip with the implementation of the Oslo accords.

In 1995, Arafat set up the Tanzim ("organization" in Arabic) as a paramilitary force of the Fatah, separate from the Palestinian Authority. This provided Arafat a certain distance and deniability regarding its attacks on Israelis, instead of his using the Palestinian Authority security services. Nonetheless, Arafat directly arms and finances the Tanzim. Barghouti, who helped found the Tanzim, is regarded as its commander, with Arafat's full backing. When Barghouti lost the last election for the position of General Secretary of Fatah, Arafat cancelled the election results.

Barghouti and the Outbreak of the October 2000 Intifada In a revealing interview with the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat (September 29, 2001), Barghouti admitted his critical role in igniting the October 2000 intifada in both the West Bank and Gaza, as well as among the Israeli Arabs: "I knew that the end of September was the last period (of time) before the explosion, but when Sharon reached the al-Aqsa Mosque, this was the most appropriate moment for the outbreak of the intifada....The night prior to Sharon's visit, I participated in a panel on a local television station and I seized the opportunity to call on the public to go to the al-Aqsa Mosque in the morning, for it was not possible that Sharon would reach al-Haram al-Sharif just so, and walk away peacefully. I finished and went to al-Aqsa in the morning....We tried to create clashes without success because of the differences of opinion that emerged with others in the al-Aqsa compound at the time....After Sharon left, I remained for two hours in the presence of other people, we discussed the manner of response and how it was possible to react in all the cities (bilad) and not just in Jerusalem. We contacted all (the Palestinian) factions."

In the evening of the same day, Barghouti traveled to the Arab Triangle inside Israel where he was to participate in a conference. He confessed: "While we were in the car on the way to the Triangle, I prepared a leaflet in the name of the Higher Committee of Fatah, coordinated with the brothers (e.g., Hamas), in which we called for a reaction to what happened in Jerusalem." Despite Barghouti's repeated claim that he only seeks with the intifada to "end the occupation" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he told The New Yorker on July 9, 2001, that if he received a 100% withdrawal of Israel, he would still seek "bigger things": namely, "one state for all the peoples." In short, he does not seek coexistence with Israel.

New Fatah Military Organizational Frameworks

Barghouti's Tanzim, in fact, were the main force organizing the intifada in early October 2000 (Ronni Sheked, Yediot Ahronot, October 3, 2000). Two important organizational developments followed. First, Barghouti became the head of a joint coordinating body of all Palestinian organizations in the West Bank (Fatah, PFLP, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad) known as the "Nationalist and Islamic Forces."

Subsequently, Fatah established joint units with Hamas and Islamic Jihad for operations against Israel beginning in early 2001. Second, during October 2000, Fatah created a special unit for armed operations against Israel: the "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades." Tanzim commanders like Atef Abiyat in Bethlehem doubled as the local commander of the "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades."

In October 2001, Abiyat was the victim of a deadly "work accident," despite Arafat's claim that he was imprisoned in a Palestinian jail. Raed Karmi, the Tanzim leader from Tulkarm who served under the command of Marwan Barghouti, and who also suffered a "work accident" while allegedly in PA custody, was another member of the "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades." Karmi was responsible for the death of at least nine Israelis and was planning a new wave of terrorism before he died. Palestinian spokesmen have justified their latest attacks as a response to Karmi's death.

The Tanzim, along with Yasser Arafat's personal bodyguard, Force-17, are responsible for approximately 50 percent of the terrorist attacks against Israelis, according to the IDF. Like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Fatah-Tanzim targets Israeli civilians without distinction, including women and children. Thus, Fatah-Tanzim is no less a terrorist organization today than Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Fatah's Strategy of Escalation

Until recently, Fatah divided responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israel with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with its own forces attacking Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad concentrated their efforts inside pre-1967 Israel itself. Yet after the two recent Fatah attacks in Hadera and the heart of Jerusalem, this division of responsibility seems to have broken down, with Fatah fully engaged in armed operations against Israel everywhere, with no geographical limitations.

Israel has always rejected such distinctions, condemning terrorist attacks against its citizens wherever they occurred. Israel's new head of military intelligence, Major-General Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash), told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on January 22 that Israel had now to brace itself for an unprecedented wave of new terrorist attacks inside Israeli cities, largely due to Tanzim's plan to avenge Karmi's death for 40 days (Ma'ariv, January 23, 2002). The new weaponry seized by Israel on the Palestinian Authority ship Karine-A this month indicates Palestinian intentions to acquire greater capabilities for a new level of warfare against Israel in the near term. According to all indications, this strategic shift in Fatah could only transpire through the personal order of Fatah head Yasser Arafat and his West Bank operations chief Marwan Barghouti.

“The Israelis claim that Yassir Arafat is responsible for starting this Intifada last October after the failure of the negotiations at Camp David. Is this true?”

“The Israelis are crazy. First of all, do you really think that Arafat gave the orders for this Intifada to start? This Intifada didn’t start by orders—and never will stop by orders. It will stop when it achieves it demands, it goals, which is to put an end to the Israeli occupation. Second, these military activities (against the Occupation) are not organized by Arafat.”

“Then can you tell me who is actually in command of the Intifada? Who is coordinating the resistance activities if you say Arafat isn’t in fact in command?”

“There is a committee which has representatives from all the Palestinian political factions. We have meetings every week in the central committees in the West Bank and Gaza. There are also regional committees in Jenin,Nablus, Rafah, Hebron, and Jerusalem, etc.”
“So who’s in charge of the central committee here in the West Bank?”

“I am in charge in the West Bank.”

“Can you comment on the riots this past Sunday in Jerusalem? The Israelis claim that the Palestinian Authority provoked these riots by calling upon Palestinians to defend Al-Aqsa. Are these allegations correct?”

“I think that the Israelis are always responsible for these provocations.For example, take the provocation by the Temple Mount Faithful with their plans to lay the cornerstone of the third Jewish temple on the Haram-Al-Sharif compound. The Israelis deliberately tried to disturb the Muslims and the Arab world by their plans to build a third temple. I think that it is a disaster that the Israelis allowed these Jewish fanatics to disturb the stability in the region with their provocative acts. Why do they do these things? Why, for example, did Barak let Sharon visit the Haram-Al-Sharif compound last September if he was really interested in peace?"

“Are you interested in peace with the Israelis?

“I do believe that I am one of the prominent people who support the peace process, and somebody who fights for the peace process. I support the dialogue with the Israelis, whether it be with members of the Knesset or the Israeli peace groups.The Oslo agreement was supposed to lead to an end of the Israeli occupation, and implementation of the accords was supposed to begin in 1994. By1997, the Palestinians were supposed to control more than 80 to 90 percent of the Occupied Territories, and the remaining 10 percent was supposed to be negotiated during the final status talks. What happened was that the Israelis never implemented their part of the agreements, and now the Palestinians only have 18 percent of the Occupied Territories under Palestinian control.”

“Do you believe Yassir Arafat was wrong then to sign the Oslo Accords?”

“I do believe that Yassir Arafat did things that nobody in the Arab world could do by signing this agreement with the Israelis. Arafat signed avery bad agreement, and he accepted all of the Israeli conditions without any guarantees from the Israelis that they would implement their side of the bargain. He arrested hundreds from Hamas and Islamic Jihad and succeeded in preventing any kind of suicide bomber or terrorist activity against Israel during the last four years before the Intifada. He made the Israelis feel secure, and the settlers, and the occupation forces, but for the Palestinian people, things just got worse."

“So are you saying that the Oslo Accords were a mistake for the Palestinians?”

“The mistake was not with the Oslo Accords, but the mistake was with these crazy leaders in Israel--like Netanyahu and Barak--who didn’t implement the agreements. I believe that Oslo did open the door for peace in the Middle East, but unfortunately, the Israelis never implemented the agreements,so there is no real agreement now.”

“So in your opinion, were there any mistakes made by the Palestinians in the negotiations?”

“In the final status talks at Camp David, Barak came and convinced the Palestinians to put aside the interim agreements and go directly to the final-status negotiations. I was opposed to the Camp David summit because I insisted that the Israelis first implement the interim agreements they had signed before we even consider the final-status issues. I asked why should we have to put aside these signed agreements when we had them in our hands and go directly to the final-status talks? And what did Israel suggest at Camp David? First, to cancel the right of return for the refugees,second, to maintain the majority of the settlements, and third, to keep the occupation in Jerusalem. So it was not possible to reach a settlement under these conditions.”

“The Israelis allege that 97 percent of the Palestinian population are currently under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak repeated this claim yesterday in an editorial in the New York Times. Barak said, in effect, that the Palestinians mostly rule themselves. Is this true?"

“This is not true, not true. Tell me where 97 percent of the Palestinian population are living under control of the Palestinian Authority? They're not. All of the villages, all of the refugee camps outside of PA are under control of the Israeli occupation. Jerusalem, it’s not under the Palestinian control. You are talking about 200,000 in East Jerusalem alone. And all the villages in Areas C and B are not under the PA control.
So this is not true.”

Can you comment on the death of the six Fatah activists yesterday in Nablus. The Israeli Deputy Defense Minister claimed it was a ‘work accident’.”

“The Israelis always make this allegation, trying to claim that it was a‘work accident’—te’ona avudah they say in Hebrew. They always say this,but it is not true. They claim that what happened three weeks ago in Tulkarem was a ‘work accident’ when they assassinated one of the Hamas activist.

In Nablus, when they assassinated Osama Jayabna by the telephone, they also said it was a work accident. Not long after that--about one week ago--when Sharon came to the conference of the Likud, he started to talk about his achievements. He said, ‘These people who attack us in Jenin, now they are not alive--in Tulkarem, in Tamun, in Nablus--and in Bethlehem.’ I heard him personally say this in his speech on television. So he (Sharon) confirmed that they assassinated all the people they denied killing before this meeting. So I think that it is very clear that when the spokesman ofthe Israeli army said that three of these people were accused of putting a bomb in Tel Aviv and that they are wanted, it’s obvious that they killed them.”

“But how did this happen, if there were no military helicopters in the air at the time, nor was there any tanks. So how did they do this?"

“The building was less than two kilometers from an Israeli military base, and they used a remote control for the explosives.”

“So if there wasn’t explosives in the house, then where did they come from? The Israelis claim the explosion cam from within the house.”

“From the Israelis. They planted them there, and they used the remote control to explode the explosions.”

“So the explosives were planted by collaborators?”

“Yes, absolutely. They always recruit collaborators to implement their crimes.”

“So the what does this mean for the future, because during the funeral there were many calls for revenge, so what can we expect in the future?”

“I think that its not a personal or family clash, so when we talk about revenge, its not this sort of revenge. By revenge we mean to continue the Intifada and to escalate the resistance against the Israeli occupation. Why are they trying to assassinate these people? Because they want to put an end to the Intifada and the resistance by these assassinations of the activists. But we will succeed, and we will not allow them to achieve their attempts if we succeed in continuing the Intifada and resistance.And this will continue, absolutely.”
“So this means you plan on escalating the resistance?”

“Yes, of course. This means to escalate the resistance.”
“Does this mean just demonstrations, or does this include violent acts?”

“Yes, of course. When we are talking about resistance, this also includes armed resistance against the Israeli occupation. This is very clear.”

“Armed resistance against whom?”

“Against the occupation.”

“Does occupation mean against settlers and soldiers?”

“Yes, of course. Do you think that we have to recognize the occupation?I think it is very clear what is the meaning of the occupation.”

“So civilians are targets?”

“If they are part of the occupation, yes. They are occupation, they are occupiers.”

“What about ordinary Israeli civilians?”

“No, no…everybody in the West Bank and Gaza—including Jerusalem, because it's an occupied territory—they are occupation. They have to leave our country. I don’t like to see anybody who will be killed, if he is Israeli or Palestinian, if he is soldier or civilian or any other. But what we're fighting for is our independence. If the Israelis tomorrow make a decision for full withdrawal from the territories, we will distribute flowers to the Israeli soldiers as they withdraw from the occupied territories.”

“To the 1967 borders?”

“Yes, exactly. We are talking about the 1967 borders. We recognize Israel,and we constantly repeat that. The question is not if we recognize Israel, but if Israel recognizes us. That is the question. We recognized Israel 10 years ago, and we dealt with this issue, and we didn’t ignore this issue. And our strategy at Fatah is to prevent any kind of activity inside Israel. This is very clear.”

“So no activity inside Israel?”

“No, no…we haven’t done anything inside of Israel. As I said before, in principle, we oppose any kind of military activity inside Israel, but we do believe any activity inside the Occupied Territories is legal. One ofthe arguments currently underway among the Palestinians is why should we refrain from attacks against Tel Aviv when the Israelis don’t respect Ramallah? The people ask, ‘If they don’t respect the areas under Palestinian sovereignty—area A—then why should we have to respect their areas? But as I have said before, I am against military activities inside of Israel. But if the Israelis invade the West Bank and Gaza, this will change.”

“So do you take the Israeli threats to invade the Palestinian territories and topple the Palestinian Authority seriously?

“Yes of course we take this seriously. The Israelis have already increased their forces throughout the territories. They now have hundreds of tanks around every major city in the West Bank and Gaza, so they are serious. But who will they make war against? We haven’t any tanks, any aircraft, any weapons—we have nothing. They say they will destroy our infrastructure,but I ask, what infrastructure? Everything we have comes from the Israelis—our roads, electricity, water and goods. So when they talk about destroying infrastructure, they are really talking about destroying buildings and killing innocent people. This is what they can do.

But this here is the biggest difference between the Intifada and the Israeli army. The IDF can defeat an army, for they have the power and ability to defeat any army in this region, but they cannot defeat the Intifada.

If they want to defeat the Intifada that means they have to destroy four million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and they cannot do this. They cannot break the will of the Palestinian people for their independence. If they came into Ramallah, do you really think they would feel more secure? They were already here for more than 26 years, and they left. Why would they want to return? What do you think will happen?

It would be a disaster for the Israelis to invade the territories. If there is already a large number of people willing to carry out suicide bombings inside of Israel, don’t you think that number would sky-rocket with an invasion? If they invade us—in our houses and land—they will pay the price. For if someone invades your home, you don’t care what you do to drive them out.”

“How does Fatah feel about the US plan to send more CIA personal to take part of the observer force recommended by the G8? Does Fatah support or reject the placement of CIA personal to observe the cease-fire between the two sides?”

“No, absolutely not.”

“Why not?”

“Because they are the same if they are Israelis or the CIA, they are the same, there is no difference.”

“Then what would be acceptable to the Palestinians?”

“What we are asking for from the international community is an international force for protection. We ask for an international force to be sent to the Occupied Territories to protect the Palestinian people from these aggressive Israeli attacks and to observe the full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza.

We are not talking about just observers. We had 20 to30 observers already come from America, and all they did was register the names of the Palestinian victims. I think the media did this job better than the observers, so we don’t need just that. What the Palestinians are asking is for the international community to send international forces to protect the Palestinian people and to observe the full Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories because any solution which will not lead to an end of the Israeli occupation will not work on the ground.”

“So besides an international force, what else would be necessary for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table?”

“It’s very clear that we are not against the negotiations since the first day, but it is not logical to ask the Palestinians to stop the Intifada to return back to the negotiations. I think that we must continue the Intifada and the resistance on the ground if the negotiations are to succeed. For it has been our experience that we cannot trust the Israelis. Since the Madrid conference till now--almost 10 years—we were going to the negotiating table, thousands of meetings, not hundreds believe me but thousands of meetings on a lot of issues like political, economics, security, etc.

And what happened while we’re negotiating? The Israelis used the time…used the umbrella of the negotiations to build new settlements. Israel since the 1967 war to1993 built roughly 25,000 housing units during the 26 years of Israeli occupation. Since 1993 until the eve of the Intifada--in a period of seven years--they built 23, 400 new housing units. So I think the Israelis laugh at the Palestinians and use the negotiations to advance their own goals.So I think it would be a disaster for the Palestinians to end the Intifada as a condition for returning to the negotiating table. The best and shortest way to stop the Intifada will be Israel’s full withdrawal from the Occupied Territories—like what happened in Lebanon.”

“So do you support the recommendations of the Mitchell Report or not?”

“The question is not whether I support the Mitchell Report or not. Of course, I hope they will implement the report, but the Israelis have never implemented anything they have agreed to implement. Never, for instance, like the Sharm-Al-Shiekh understanding, or the Egyptian or Jordanian initiatives, or the Tenet cease-fire proposal. And now consider the G8 declaration to send observers to the Occupied Territories. They destroyed the idea when they insisted upon American and CIA observers, for they are already here. They are working here. So this will not solve the problem. We have a consensus among the Palestinian political factions—including Hamas and Islamic Jihad—of one goal for the Palestinians. And that goal is an end to the Israeli occupation.”

“Do you believe there is any chance of a return to negotiations with the present government in Israel?”

“To be honest and frank with you, I don’t think there is any chance, any room or any opportunity for any agreement with Sharon. So we will opt for more escalation of the Intifada in the coming weeks.”

“Several prominent Jewish organizations in America, as well as the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post, have accused the Palestinian Authority of inciting hatred toward Israel in its official media. They also accuse the Palestinian Authority of teaching hatred toward Israelis in Palestinian textbooks. Is the Palestinian Authority guilty of incitement toward Israel?”

“This is not true. To begin with, we have initiated several people to people programs with the Israelis, but the problem is that the Israelis regard it as a people under people program. We have initiated the dialogue, the negotiations, the joint projects between the youth, the women, the journalists, and the intellectuals. Yet what did the Israelis do? Last December, they killed Dr. Thabet Thabet, a colleague of mine and a peace activist in Tulkarem. Dr. Thabet personally hosted more than 25 Israeli delegations in his home and office, and yet the Israelis killed him. They said he was a terrorist, and now they say I am at the top of the terrorists. And they accuse the Palestinians of incitement? Don’t you think the occupation is the biggest incitement of all?

The greatest incitement in the world is the occupation itself. If you have an occupation, you don’t need to incite the people, for they are already angry. If you have 96military checkpoints in the Palestinian territories, or bulldoze thousands of olive trees, or kill more than 500 Palestinians and injure and maim thousands more, you don’t need incitement. If you bomb our cities and towns,destroy hundreds of buildings and assassinate more than 60 individuals, you don’t need incitement (Pounding his fists on the table at this point). Do you really think that we need to incite anybody? The main incitement is the occupation itself!"

“Do you think the Arab nations have done enough to help the Palestinians during the current Intifada? Have they done enough, or do you think they could do more to help the Palestinians?”

“Of course they can do more, and they have to.”“What kinds of assistance are we talking about…I mean, what would be most beneficial?”“They can give all kinds of assistance. I think the Arabs have to stop playing the role of observers and do more than just show in their media how many Palestinians are victims. I think they have to take real measure son the ground to help the Palestinians. They should insist to the Israelis that they stop their aggressive attacks and to implement the UN resolutions.

At the very least, they should close the Israeli embassies in Cairo and Amman and to stop the normalization of ties with Israel. They must cut any kinds of relations with Israel, whether it’s political, economic or security cooperation. The Israeli government has to feel that they are completely isolated in this part of the world—and not just by the Arabs—but also by Europe and everybody else. So we are looking for support by the Arabs,and they can start this by cutting their relations with the Americans.”

“Why should they cut their ties with the Americans?”

“Because I think our problem is not with the Israelis, but our biggest problem is with the Americans—with you, unfortunately. Do you realize that the Palestinians have more support in the Israeli Knesset than we do in the US Congress? The number of the people who support the creation of a Palestinian state in the Israeli Knesset is more than 50 members out of120. In the US Senate, I can’t even think of two out of a hundred members who support the creation of a Palestinian state. So our problem is really with the US Congress, not the Israelis.”

“What would you say to the American people if you had the chance?”

“The Palestinians are asking themselves—including me—why do the Americans treat us so badly? Why do they always support the Israelis more than even the Israelis themselves? Why are they always accusing the Palestinians of being violent terrorists while ignoring Israel’s brutal occupation?

The occupation is the greatest terror of all and the greatest violence in this part of the world. Why are they so aggressive in their policies toward the Palestinians? Why do they ignore the Palestinian national rights? For20 years the Americans insisted that the PLO accept Israel’s right to exists well as UN Resolutions 242 and 338, and we did that. Now the Americans ask the Palestinians to make compromises on these resolutions and to accept the Israeli conditions for peace.

I think the Americans should look for their long-term interests in the region and realize that they have many interests greater than Israel. They cannot continue to ignore the Arab nation of more than 300 million people as well as a billion Muslims all over the world for the sake of these 4 million Jews in Israel. Its time for the Americans to start being fair in their policies toward the Palestinians.

TODAY: Olmert urges Abbas to reach peace deal this year

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, poised to resign next month in a graft scandal, pressed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to move urgently towards fulfilling Washington's wish for a peace deal this year. Ahead of talks in Jerusalem on Sunday, Olmert aides said the Israeli leader planned to ask Abbas to draft a joint document of understandings before Olmert's Kadima party holds a leadership vote on September 17 to name his successor.

But Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said after the meeting: "It is not realistic to expect that there's a quick fix or a shortcut. We won't solve the conflict issues on the table in two or three weeks." Olmert appeared to catch Abbas off-guard during a photo opportunity before the talks by stressing the 2008 timeframe for a deal, set at a U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland last November.

"We have to complete the Annapolis process this year -- this year," Olmert, grasping Abbas in a handshake and using his other hand to gesture to the Palestinian leader, said emphatically in English as they posed for photographers.

Such comments have been rarely made on camera during previous meetings between the two men. Abbas, along with some of Olmert's cabinet colleagues, are cool to the idea of drafting a preliminary document to present to Washington. "The time factor is important but we either have an agreement on all issues or no agreement," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah after the meeting.


Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister and front-runner in the Kadima race, has cautioned against papering over differences with Abbas and rushing towards an accord. Her comments were echoed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Middle East visit last week.

Cabinet minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party said Olmert doesn't have "legal legitimacy to negotiate, and certainly not to reach any agreement". Olmert, who was questioned again by police on Friday over corruption allegations, could stay in office for weeks or even months until his successor forms a new government. He has denied any wrongdoing.

A senior Abbas aide said Rice had proposed several bridging proposals during her 25-hour visit last week and they would be discussed at the Olmert-Abbas meeting in Jerusalem.

They included working out a territorial swap and basing the borders of a future Palestinian state on lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war, while taking into account several major Jewish settlement blocs.

The issue of Jerusalem would be resolved as part of the borders debate but holy sites and the walled Old City where they are located would be discussed at a later stage, the aide said. On the fate of Palestinian refugees, the aide said the United States would work internationally to provide them with compensation and discussions would begin on deciding how many could return to what is now Israel.

Islamic Jihad threatens Israel with 'the fires of hell'

KHAN YUNES, Gaza Strip (AFP) The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad on Saturday threatened to unleash "the fires of hell" on Israel, as it staged a military parade in the south of the Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip.

"We will unleash the fires of hell if the Zionist enemy continues its crimes," said the group's military chief Abu Hamzeh after the parade by around 800 Islamic Jihad members, an AFP journalist reported."We're getting ready for the next round," he added, saying "the Zionist enemy will have neither peace nor security while it occupies our land."Abu Hamzeh said his group had "hundreds of rockets" ready to launch at southern Israel.Khader Habib, a political leader in the group, said Islamic Jihad "will not rest until we have liberated all of Palestine," referring to the movement's aim to create a Palestinian state in Israel's place.Earlier the militants staged exercises using assault rifles rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.The parade took place on the site of the former Jewish settlement of Gush Katif, which was evacuated when Israel withdrew settlers and forces from the Gaza Strip in August 2005.Since June 19, Islamic Jihad has generally respected an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas. The truce applies to Gaza only, and Islamic Jihad said it reserves the right to respond to Israeli attacks in the West Bank.

Sharon fell ill December 18, 2005 - I can find zero articles on his health dated 2008
Note the placement of the scare quotes in this snippet:

Omri wants his father to be kept "alive" since Sharon did not have an "advanced directive" it is to be assumed that the wishes of his son will prevail. The medical technology of the heart/lung respirator and dialysis can keep the "flesh" alive so long as the "brain stem" has some function. The "brain stem" is different from the cerebrum where thinking takes place. Sharon's doctors do not expect him to recover.

The report on Israel’s Channel 10 news quoted Mr. Sharon’s son Omri as saying that he was able to respond to various questions with a slight tightening of his hand.

“Father follows things with his eyes, he watches television, mainly National Geographic and other nature programs,” Channel 10 quoted Omri Sharon as saying.

“He responds not only with his eyes, but with a firming of his hand.”

Want more Babba Zee and the Outraged Speen of Zion? Try these recent posts:
* Harramadan Greetings, Infidel!
* Missing Links vs the Gods of Cha-Ching

by Babba Zee

images: Outraged Spleen of Zion
Source: Jerusalem: Naked, bound and splayed, she awaits her rape

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