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Wednesday, Jul. 04 ’12, Tammuz 14, 5772
1. PERES TRYING TO UNTIE HAREIDI ENLISTMENT KNOT 2. CHE SAYS ‘NO’ TO ARIEL UNIVERSITY STATUS 3. CANADIAN SENATORS WARN AGAINST ISRAEL BOYCOTT 4. ABBAS TO MEET CLINTON, HOLLANDE IN PARIS 5. ASSAD CHARGES TURKEY PROTECTING ISRAEL 6. RUSSIA: DOWNED TURKISH JET CLEARLY PROVOKED SYRIA 7. ARAFAT’S REMAINS TO BE EXHUMED FOR AUTOPSY 8. NAME OF ANTI-SEMITE REMOVED FROM VIENNA ROAD
1. PERES TRYING TO UNTIE HAREIDI ENLISTMENT KNOT by Gil Ronen
President Shimon Peres met Wednesday afternoon with MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) in order to try and hammer out a replacement for the Tal Law that regulated the enlistment of hareidim to the IDF.
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said earlier in the day that “the establishment of the Plesner Committee was for the sake of primaries and because of Kadima’s fear of elections.”
“The hateful paper issued by the one man committee is an amateurish and extremist document that ignores the complexity of the subject and is motivated by excess hot-headedness and excitement,” he accused.
Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz presented an ultimatum Wednesday to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, demanding the Netanyahu decide “within days” to accept the Plesner Committee’s recommendations, or face the fact that Kadima will leave his coalition.
Minister Ariel Atias (Shas) hinted on his Facebook page that the hareidim would be willing to be flexible in negotiations. “If we change the extreme parts of the Plesner report, we can still arrive at a solution that would change the situation meaningfully compared to the original Tal Law.”
2. CHE SAYS ‘NO’ TO ARIEL UNIVERSITY STATUS by Gil Ronen
The Committee for Planning and Budgeting in the Council for Higher Education (CHE) decided Wednesday that the Ariel University Center will not receive full university status – at least until next year.
The CHE will hold “an in depth analysis” of the matter and reach a decision in the course of 2013, it decided.
The CHE said that it cannot, at this point, change a decision made in 2006, according to which there is no need for establishing or recognizing an additional university in Israel at this time.
“The committee must first analyze the national need of the higher education system in the establishment of another university,” the CHE stated. “If the committee’s opinion is that the need exists, it must operate according to egalitarian guidelines and relevant criteria.”
Ariel University Center reacted to the decision, saying that “As expected, the members of the Committee for Planning and Financing elected to ignore the report by the CHE, which determines that after 30 years of activity, Ariel University Center is university for all intents and purposes.”
“The committee serves the old hegemony controlled by the heads of the seven universities, which operate for their own institutions’ narrow interests, and are trying to thwart the growth of higher education in Israel at the expense of Israeli students and lecturers.”
“We expect the Minister of Education not to surrender to the university heads’ cartel and to make the proper decision for the good of all Israeli citizens.”
“The university heads’ cartel cannot stop progress, even if it wants to. Ariel University is a need and in actuality, it is already a fact. The attempt to postpone a rational and sane decision is desperate and ridiculous. What can an additional committee look into that the present one did not check in the course of seven years?”
3. CANADIAN SENATORS WARN AGAINST ISRAEL BOYCOTT by Gabe Kahn
A group of nine Canadian senators warned the United Church of Canada on Wednesday that a boycott of Israeli goods from Judea and Samaria could spark a rift with the Jewish state.
The senators, from both the Conservative and Liberal parties, are all members of the United Church.
A panel established by the church has issued a report that proposes a boycott of all products from Jewish settlements, but not from other areas of Israel, arguing the settlements are illegally eating away ‘Palestinian lands.’
However, the nine senators warned the panel that the distinction drawn with the narrower boycott will “be lost upon” Israelis and Canada”s Jewish community.
“What will be made clear to them is that the United Church has chosen sides, declaring Israel guilty and the Palestinians the only injured party,” the senators wrote.
Conservative senator Nancy Ruth noted that she has no objection to the church wading into weighty international politics, but fears it could stoke interfaith tensions at home.
“I”d say it”s a matter of diplomacy,” she told the Globe and Mail. “I don”t think it will be helpful for Jewish-Christian relations.”
The church”s working group said it struggled with that issue, but its current proposal brushes concerns about a potential chill in relations with the Jewish people aside.
“Simply put, Israel is maintaining a harsh occupation that must end so peace can emerge,” it said in a statement.
A senior official from the United Church who served on the panel, however, also argued the panel had been careful not to single Israel out.
“The working group intentionally chose not to target Israel, but rather the settlements, because we don”t in any way want to be confused with seeking to weaken or contribute to something that would harm Israel,” the official told the Globe and Mail.
But Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs head Simon Fogel said the UC’s proposed ‘Settlement only’ boycott was really an anti-Israel move cloaked in subterfuge.
“Boycotting settlements alone is technically impractical, and it”s really no different than that of a larger boycott aimed at delegitimizing Israel,” Fogel said.
“There”s an effort to disguise what the real intent is,” he added.
Fogel also said, “The United Church should explain why it has focused on Israel when Christian communities around the region are under threat.”
4. ABBAS TO MEET CLINTON, HOLLANDE IN PARIS
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the French President Francois Hollande this week.
Erekat said Abbas will stress the importance of releasing PA jailed in Israel when he meets with the leaders, according to a statement from his office.
He added that Abbas will also meet EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, and the British, German and Norwegian foreign ministers during his two-day trip to Paris.
World diplomats are currently gathering for a “Friends of Syria” meeting in the French capital. The summit is a bid by world leaders to bridge Arab and Western positions over the conflict in Syria.
However, Russia – which says the group is biased in favor of opposition to President Bashar Assad – refuses to attend.
A spokesman for Abbas’ office said last month that the PA leader will only meet with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu if Israel agrees to free seriously ill prisoners, including those detained prior to the Oslo accords.
Specifying pre-Oslo and sick prisoners is a step down from Abbas’ previous position, which was the unconditional release of all PA prisoners from Israeli prisons.
However, the prisoner issue remains only one of several preconditions Abbas has thrown in the path of renewed peace talks between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
He has also demanded Israel agree to the indefensible pre-1967 lines as the borders for a future PA state and impose a second building freeze in Judea and Samaria before he agrees to come to the negotiating table.
Israeli officials note that a previous 10-month building freeze by Israel aimed at meeting Abbas’ demand was rebuffed and not only met with additional preconditions, but a unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations in violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords as well.
They say Abbas’ current raft of preconditions are a fait accompli intended to forestall talks that would require him to make concessions he has not prepared his people for.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said he is ready to resume talks immediately without preconditions from either side.
5. ASSAD CHARGES TURKEY PROTECTING ISRAEL by Gabe Kahn
Syria’s embattled Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meddling in Damascus’ affairs to protect Israel.
Why didn”t Erdogan “do anything after the Marmara ship incident except shouting? Why did he challenge Israel, and then suddenly agreed to deploy the missile shield in Turkey?” Assad asked during an interview with DP news.
“Did he deploy it in order to protect Turkey from the attack of a hostile country? Did America build these bases in order to protect itself against this region? Which country in the region has the capability to threaten America?
“No country,” Assad answered himself. “So, the answer is that he deployed it to protect Israel. These circumstances revealed Erdogan”s reality, no more, no less. Erdogan hasn”t changed.”
“What has changed is the way the people of the region look at him. He has failed on the Arab arena. He no longer exists, neither him nor his credibility,” Assad said.
The Syrian president’s charges came as a mounting crisis over the July 22 downing of a Turkish military jet by Syria looks set to boil over.
Both nations have deployed troops along their mutual frontier in recent weeks in a sign that the souring relations between the former allies have reached a nadir.
Assad charged that the blame for the current crisis rested solely with Erdogan’s government.
“First of all, we have to identify who changed,” Assad said. “Look at Syria”s relations with other countries and you”ll find that our relations with Iraq, Iran, Jordan and other countries have not changed and remain the same.”
“On the other hand, you can see that Turkey”s relations with most countries of the region, not only with Syria, have changed. As far as we are concerned, what changed on the Turkish side is that in the first stage of the crisis.
“Turkey transgressed against the brotherly relations with Syria and started to interfere directly in Syrian affairs, which is absolutely unacceptable for us in Syria. We are an independent country which respects itself and respects its sovereignty,” Assad said.
The Syrian president then went on to accuse Turkey of openly backing the rebels of the Free Syrian Army, whose commanders have taken refuge on Ankara’s side of the border.
“Later on, the Turkish government started to get involved in the bloody events in Syria by providing logistic support to the terrorists who have been killing innocent people,” Assad said. “The Turkish government started adopting policies which are dangerous both to the Turkish people and the Syrian people.”
Assad also directly accused Erdogan of cynically using the crisis in Syria for his own political ends, suggesting the Turkish premier mind his own business.
“Has he suddenly felt love, affection and concern for the Syrian people? Is it logical that he should feel more concerned for the Syrian people than I do?” Assad asked.
“What would you say about me if I told you that I am more concerned about the Turkish people than you are as a Turkish citizen? You would no doubt say that this is hypocrisy.
“Let Erdogan concern himself with his internal affairs and not with others” in order to preserve what remains of the zero-problem policy that can be implemented.”
Assad also said the way out of the current crisis with Turkey was for Erdogan to back down and alter his policy towards Assad’s regime.
“The way out is that the Turkish government corrects the mistakes it made in dealing with the Syrian situation, not manipulating or exploiting any event in order to create big problems,” Assad said.
Erdogan also needs to put “the interests of the Syrian and Turkish people before the narrow personal interests of their officials.” Assad said. “Erdogan is shedding the tears of hypocrites for the Syrian people.”
6. RUSSIA: DOWNED TURKISH JET CLEARLY PROVOKED SYRIA by Gabe Kahn
Russian officials say a Turkish jet recently shot down by Damascus entered Syrian airspace twice to test the country’s anti-aircraft defenses.
The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed senior member of Russia’s military who said the Turkish F4 Phantom’s June 22 mission had been to gauge the combat readiness of Syrian air defenses.
“It was a clear provocation,” the official was quoted as saying,
The official also said that Russian security officials believe the F4 had also been gathering intelligence on Syrian land and shore defenses.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in recent comments, said Russia’s military intelligence had monitored the flight and the shoot down.
Moscow has billions of dollars in military, oil, and infrastructure contracts tied to the survival of embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
To that end, Russian officials have used their Security Council veto to shield Damascus from international furor and action at the United Nations.
Relations between Ankara and Damascus, once allies, have soured during Assad’s brutal 16-month crackdown on a popular uprising against his 11-year rule.
However, the June 22 incident has served as a fulcrum of tension between Turkey and Syria, with both nations deploying military forces, including combat aircraft, on their mutual frontier since the F4 was shot down.
Ankara, which has absorbed thousands of refugees from Syria in recent months, has also given safe haven to the senior commanders of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Rights groups say at least 16,500 people – most of them civilians – have been killed in the unrest-turned-civil-war now gripping Syria.
7. ARAFAT’S REMAINS TO BE EXHUMED FOR AUTOPSY by Gabe Kahn
Officials in Ramallah said Wednesday they will allow the exhumation of late PLO arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat’s remains for an autopsy.
The former PA leader died at a military hospital outside Paris in November 2004 of what French doctors called a massive brain hemorrhage, just weeks after he fell violently ill at his headquarters in Ramallah.
At the time of his death at the age of 75, officials in Ramallah charged he had been poisoned by longtime foe Israel, but an inconclusive PA investigation in 2005 ruled out cancer, AIDS or poisoning.
However, French officials are restricted by privacy laws and have refused to reveal the precise cause of death or the nature of his condition, fuelling a host of rumors and theories as to the cause of his illness.
The decision to exhume Arafat’s remains came following Swiss laboratory findings that suggest his 2004 death may have been the result of radiation poisoning.
“If (Suha Arafat) really wants to know what happened to her husband (we need) to find a sample – I mean, an exhumation… should provide us with a sample that should have a very high quantity of polonium if he was poisoned,” Francois Bochud, head of the Institute of Radiation Physics at the University of Lausanne, told Al-Jazeera.
Arafat’s widow, Suha, called for the autopsy after Bochud’s discovered elevated levels of Polonium-210 in fluid samples found on belongings the former PA leader is said to have used in his final days. The Swiss lab that conducted the tests did so at her request.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmud Abbas said July 4 he is willing to permit further testing.
8. NAME OF ANTI-SEMITE REMOVED FROM VIENNA ROAD by Rachel Hirshfeld
Austrian officials have removed the name of a notoriously anti-Semitic former mayor from a street, formally renaming a section of Vienna”s posh ring road Universitaetsring, The Associated Press reported.
City Councilor Andreas Mailath Pokorny switched the first street sign Wednesday. What was called Dr. Karl-Lueger-Ring has now been renamed after the city”s main university.
Lueger, who was mayor from 1897 to 1910, openly espoused anti-Semitic sentiments. Adolf Hitler, who lived in Vienna for part of Lueger”s tenure, saw him as an inspiration for his hatred of Jews.
Luegar is also credited with expanding Vienna”s pipeline network supplying the city with alpine spring water, establishing a public transport system and strengthening social welfare services.
Mailath Pokorny acknowledged Lueger”s achievements but noted that he was one of the era”s main fomenters of “populist anti-Semitism.”