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Friday, May. 18 ’12, Iyar 26, 5772
1. NETANYAHU SKEPTICAL OF IRAN TALKS
2. BARKAT: CRANES MEAN SOVEREIGNTY, SUCCESS 3. MORE THAN 60,000 CALL FOR POLLARD’S FREEDOM 4. ‘RESIDENT’ STATUS GIVEN IN RAMAT MIGRON 5. SLAIN RABBI REMEMBERED WITH YOKNEAM SYNAGOGUE 6. POLL: KADIMA CRASHING TO 3 KNESSET SEATS 7. CAN THE EU SAVE ABU SHAHALA?
8. 1000 RELIGIOUS ZIONIST RABBIS MEET IN JERUSALEM
1. NETANYAHU SKEPTICAL OF IRAN TALKS
by Gabe Kahn
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday said he is skeptical that Iran will agree to halt its nuclear program.
“I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is ready to end its nuclear program,” he said just days ahead of a crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran.
The P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – are set for a May 23 meeting with Iran in Baghdad.
Speaking in Prague, Netanyahu called it “the paramount issue of our time.”
Netanyahu did not present any ultimatums, but Israeli officials have said time is running out to avoid military action.
This marks the third time in recent months Netanyahu has said he does not believe Western sanctions will prove effective in halting Iran’s nuclear program.
His government maintains a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran would threaten the Jewish state’s survival.
Israel is not alone in believing Tehran is pursuing nuclear research with military applications – or considering a military strike in Iran’s nuclear sites.
US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro this week indicated Iran now had a very short “window” in which to agree to a diplomatic solution.
“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than the use of military force,” Shapiro said during a speech in Tel Aviv.
“But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available – not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready.”
While US officials have made tangential references to a “military options” vis-a-vis Iran, none have done so in such forthright terms to date.
International Atomic Energy Agency officials are pressing Iran to address concerns spelled out in an extensive IAEA report released in November 2011.
The report alleges that at least until 2003, and probably since then, Tehran has engaged in nuclear activities of a decidedly military nature.
They also want access to the Parchin military base near Tehran where the IAEA report – which cited foreign intelligence, its own sources, and Iranian information – said Iran had conducted high-explosives tests in a specially designed chamber.
Two previous trips to Tehran in January and February by the IAEA resulted in Iran denying inspectors access to suspected nuclear sites.
Iran, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is obligated to allow the UN watchdog access to its site for inspections to ensure it is complying with the treaty.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said recently that access to Parchin was a “priority” and that “activities” spotted by satellite there “makes us believe that going there sooner is better than later.”
In March, Amano also charged Iran with a systemic attempt to cover up nuclear activity of a military nature saying, “Iran is not telling us everything.”
Western nations have accused Iran of removing evidence from Parchin and other sites – and Tehran’s Gulf Arab rivals have also charged Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.
2. BARKAT: CRANES MEAN SOVEREIGNTY, SUCCESS by Gabe Kahn
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat told Arutz Sheva on Thursday that he sees cranes in Jerusalem as a sign of success – and sovreignty.
“We are on a path of success,” Barkat said. “We see it in several respects, including growth and development. This skyline is full of cranes. “Anyone who comes and sees this, sees that something good is happening in the city – Jerusalm is succeeding.”
“Sovereignty cannot stay on paper,” he declares, “Anyone who thinks that if you just declare sovereignty you have resolved the problem is wrong.”
“There is a direct relationship between development in the urban neighborhoods and sovereignty,” he said. “You must enforce zoning and construction laws, collects taxes, improve schools, talk with the people and solve problems – that is sovereignty.”
Barkat told Arutz Sheva that illegal construction could only be tackled if Israel took responsibility for Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.
“You have to understand where illegal construction comes from,” Barkat said. “We have Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which, unfortunately, are badly neglected. As mayor, visiting these areas, I was forced to ask why this is?”
“We have two bad alternatives: one, we can act like an ostrich; the other, to accept a huge disparity between the quality of life in these neighborhoods, and other neighborhoods, which should not be.
“I choose a third option,” Barkat said. “I chose to take responsibility and extend my office’s sovereignty to these neighborhoods, to improve the quality of life in them, and increase investment there.”
The move to improve the quality of life in eastern Jerusalem is not without political implications.
“It’s not a controversial idea, but right-wingers are more supportive of this process than the left, because they understand that investments in East Jerusalem are a means of applying Israel’s sovereignty,” Barkat said.
“The left thinks differently about the city’s theme of unity,” he went on. “They do not realize that ideology and practice must go hand in hand. There is no chance that Jerusalem will succeed if she is divided again.”
“So we have to insist on the unity of the city. For the right, improving the quality of life in eastern Jerusalem jives with both practice and ideology. For the left, it jives with practice, but ideologically it is problematic. I’m not sure they want it.”
Interestingly, Barkat some of his strongest supporters are Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem.
“They have lot of respect,” Barkat said. “They know I care about them and know their quality of life will rise. This is important to all of us. Additionally, they are increasingly satisfied with the city and recognize my office’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.”
“This leads to a situation where they themselves would prefer to keep Jerusalem united because they see the results of our efforts and they understand progress.
“Its not Zionism, but in practice, they know it is important to continue to live under Israeli sovereignty,” Barkat explained.
However, the primary impediment to Barkat’s goals for Jerusalem is not the political left, or Arabs in the city, but Israel’s own security establishment.
“Unfortunately, whoever gave a ‘waiver’ for permits in eastern Jerusalem- and his reasoning was probably due to security considerations – did not take into account how dividing Jerusalem with a fence would affect Israel sovereignty,” Birkat said.
“I have not ignored the issue,” he said. “I have raised it again and again at the political level, but the tools available to the Jerusalem Municipality to alter security policy is limited.
“This difficulty is very real. I keep telling the government we must be allowed to exercise sovereignty in neighborhoods beyond the security wall. But, this problem persists.”
3. MORE THAN 60,000 CALL FOR POLLARD’S FREEDOM by Maayana Miskin
More than 60,000 people have signed a letter calling on President Shimon Peres to do whatever he can to free Jonathan Pollard. The campaign for Pollard”s freedom has taken on new energy as the date on which Peres will be given the Medal of Freedom approaches.
Members of Knesset, Canadian rabbis and Gilad Shalit are among those who have called on Peres to turn down the prestigious prize if Pollard is not released.
On Thursday, Israel Prize winner, Rabbi Chaim Druckman joined the call. In a speech given at the Rabbis” Conference in Jerusalem, Rabbi Druckman appealed to his colleagues, “Please, do what you can so that Jonathan will leave jail alive.”
Activists say the campaign is just getting started. Over the next few days, volunteers will take to the streets to distribute pamphlets explaining Pollard”s plight and calling to sign the letter.
“As we get more signatures, we know that we are reaching wider circles, circles of people who may not have been sufficiently aware of the matter, who now understand that this isn”t just a matter of justice but of life and death,” campaign director Effie Yahav said.
Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for giving classified information to Israel, has become seriously ill and was recently hospitalized. He has since been released, but his condition remains poor.
4. ‘RESIDENT’ STATUS GIVEN IN RAMAT MIGRON by Maayana Miskin
Those living in Ramat Migron have resident status in the area, and are not obligated by IDF orders declaring the area a closed military zone, a Jerusalem judge has ruled. The ruling follows a similar ruling regarding a man from the Mitzpe Avichai outpost.
The court order came after a young man was arrested on Wednesday night for entering Ramat Migron after it had been declared a closed military zone. The teen was represented by the Honenu legal rights group.
Attorney Yitzchak Bam spoke to Arutz Sheva following the verdict. Bam, who also represented Aryeh Davis in the precedent-setting Mitzpe Avichai case, explained that the recent verdicts are the first in which judges have recognized that Jews can also be permanent residents in Judea and Samaria.
Previously, IDF orders declaring a closed military zone – a measure often used in an attempt to prevent riots – would normally include an exception for PA residents of the area in order to avoid infringing on their freedom of movement. However, there was no exception made for Jewish residents of Homesh, Ramat Migron, or other communities considered illegal outposts by the IDF.
Bam said that in addition to violating his client”s rights as a Ramat Migron resident, police had violated his rights as a minor. As a 15-year-old, the client should have had his parents or another adult present while he was questioned. However, Bam accused, police questioned the young man alone.
5. SLAIN RABBI REMEMBERED WITH YOKNEAM SYNAGOGUE by Maayana Miskin
Ten months ago, Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira was stabbed to death during one of the many personal meetings he held with people seeking his aid. This week, work was completed on a synagogue that will be called Ohel Elazar in his memory.
The synagogue in Yokneam was built over a long period, with funding provided in part by the Housing Ministry. It will serve hundreds of residents of the Givat Hacalaniyot neighborhood.
Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeira”s son Rabbi Pinchas Abuchatzeira was present as the synagogue was officially inaugurated, as were relatives Rabbi David Abuchatzeira and the Baba Baruch.
Rabbi David Abuchatzeira thanked Housing Minister Ariel Atias for his involvement in the project. “During these difficult times, when building a synagogue is not easy financially, we have Rabbi Ariel Atias, sent by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,” he said.
Atias spoke as well, “The Housing Ministry, as the ministry responsible for building cities in Israel, builds synagogues and mikvas, daycare centers and community centers for residents” well-being,” he said.
“Over the past few years the ministry has built around a thousand new apartments in Yokneam,” he continued. “I am glad I had the merit to inaugurate a synagogue…. We will continue, as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has instructed, to develop institutions of Torah in neighborhoods the Housing Ministry builds.”
More than 1,300 new apartments are to be put on the market in Yokneam in the near future, he added.
6. POLL: KADIMA CRASHING TO 3 KNESSET SEATS by Gil Ronen
Kadima, the largest faction in the present Knesset, would crash from 28 seats to just 3 if elections were held today, according to a new poll conducted by the Panels Institute for the Knesset Channel.
The party was expected to lose much of its power in the next elections but the extremely unfavorable poll appears to be a direct result of the deal that party leader Shaul Mofaz recently made with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in which Kadima entered the coalition.
Polls held shortly after that deal showed Mofaz losing popularity.
Many of the seats lost by Kadima would go to the newly formed Yesh Atid party headed by journalist Yair Lapid. The poll gives Lapid 17 MKs.
Likud is at 30 Knesset seats, more or less as it has been in other recent polls. Labor reaches 20 seats and becomes the second-largest party.
Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu receives 12 seats, Shas – which currently has 11 – gets only 6, United Torah Judaism stays with the current 5, the National Union climbs to 9 and the Jewish Home receives 3.
Meretz doubles its power to receive 6 seats.
The projection gives the so-called right-religious bloc 62 seats and makes a Likud-coalition with more Lapid likely.
7. CAN THE EU SAVE ABU SHAHALA?
by Gabe Kahn
European Union Committee for Foreign Affairs chairman Dr. Fiorello Provera said this week that the EU was obligated to intervene on behalf of Muhammad Abu Shahala.
Abu Shahala was sentenced to death by a Palestinian Authority court for selling the Beit HaMachpela (House of the Patriarchs) to Jewish families in Hevron.
“Abu Shahala’s conviction has no justification, and therefore the European Union will intervene to save his life,” Provera wrote in response to a plea by Hevron’s Jewish community asking the EU intervene on Abu Shahala’s behalf. “It is inconceivable that a man who sells his house will be convicted of a crime and sentenced to death.”
“The PA is the foremost beneficiary of a European assistance, so we must intervene interest and demand the PA immediately cancel Abu Shahala’s death sentence. And, to remove the death penalty for the sale of property and land [to Jews].”
Provera indicated media reports in Israel had prompted EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton to intervene on Abu Shahala’s behalf – adding that European Union policy opposed the death penalty in all cases.
Provera concluded, “I call on the PA to immediately block the implementation of death sentence on Abu Shahala, as required by the UN General Assembly.”
Abu was arrested four months ago and questioned about selling Beit Machpela to local Jews. Initially, he was released, but was rearrested 66 days later, reportedly tortured into confessing, and placed in solitary confinement.
The execution order against Abu Shahala still requires the signature of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, Abu Shahala, who suffers from heart disease and has had four catheterizations, is said to be in deteriorating health.
Jewish leaders David Wilder and Noam Arnon in Hevron have petitioned UN chief Ban Ki-moon, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton; European Council president Herman Van Rompuy; and the director general of the International Red Cross, Yves Daccord, among others, to intervene on Abu Shahala’s behalf.
“It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a “capital crime” punishable by death,” they wrote to the leaders. “The very fact that such a “law” exists within the framework of the PA legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages.”
“What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews? Less than one hundred years ago, such acts were legislated and practiced, in the infamous “Nuremberg laws….”
8. 1000 RELIGIOUS ZIONIST RABBIS MEET IN JERUSALEM by Arutz Sheva Staff
On Israel’s Independence Day, 45 years ago, in 1967, the annual festivities were taking place at the Merkaz HaRav Kook flagship religious Zionist yeshiva in Jerusalem, when the venerable Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zts”l, rose to speak and broke into an anguished cry –
“Where is our Hevron? Where is our Jericho? Where is our Shechem? Where is every bit of Eretz Yisrael? How is it that we accept that the verse that says ‘and they divided my land’ has come to pass?”
He told the awestruck students “I could not be truly happy [seeing the lack of these holy sites in the partition borders] on the first Independence Day [in 1948]”.
The next day, Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran.
The students had reason to recall his words with awe, when three weeks later, his prayers were answered and Jerusalem, Hevron, Shechem and Jericho returned to Jewish hands.
In continuation of this love for Jerusalem and every inch of the Holy Land, approximately a thousand religious Zionist rabbis, including old and young rabbis, community leaders, educators and rabbis in uniform, met on Thursday at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem for a first of its kind Jerusalem Day conference.
Speakers included chief rabbis of cities and heads of yeshivas and Torah institutes, such as Rav Sheer Yashuv Cohen of Haifa, Rav Yaakov Ariel of Ramat Gan, Rav Nachum Rabinowitz of Maaleh Adumim, Rav Zalman Baruch Melamed of Beit El, Rav Chaim Drukman of Ohr Etzion representing hesder yeshivas, Rav Yaakov Shapiro of Merkaz Harav, Rav Shmuel Eliyahu of Tsfat, Rav Yisrael Rosen of the Tsomet Halakhic Institute. Rabbi Aharon LIchtenstein of Har Etzion spoke by video.
The rabbinical conference, which was held in honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Reunification) Day, reunited 45 years ago in the Six Day War, dealt with the unity of Jerusalem and with unity in general.