The Shin Bet security service said Saturday evening that it has found no evidence of a far-right plot to avenge last week's terror attack at a Jerusalem yeshiva that left eight students dead. "After a comprehensive and thorough examination, no evidence was found of preparations by right-wing activists who wish to avenge the murder at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva," the Shin Bet said in a statement. [...] The Jerusalem Police on Sunday failed to prevent hundreds of extreme right-wing activists from arriving at the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber and hurling stones at its residents, despite repeated threats to by rightists to avenge the murder of eight yeshiva students in Jerusalem 10 days ago and destroy the terrorist's home. "We were surprised by the intensity of the riots," a senior police official admitted.
Egypt is putting together a package deal in the South that will include a cease-fire in Gaza, an Egyptian commitment to redouble anti-smuggling efforts on the border, give Hamas a presence at the Rafah crossing, and reinstate Palestinian Authority control over other crossings from Gaza into Israel, government officials told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. [...] Despite progress in putting together this package, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was scheduled to arrive in Israel for talks this week, has postponed his visit. This is the third time he has postponed a trip here since fighting in Gaza escalated just over two weeks ago. No reason for the postponement was given. [Zeitgründe, Merkel*** + stuff-Besuch.] he package deal will still need to be approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Olmert has said over the last two weeks that Israel is not negotiating a deal with Hamas, and that the organization knew that if it stopped shooting rockets at Israel, Israel would respond in kind. Even as this package deal is moving forward, government officials said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will meet Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei for the first time this week since the PA suspended bilateral negotiations with Israel two weeks ago, following the upsurge in Gaza fighting. [...] The commander-designate of the Israel Air Force, Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, says that the presence of Israeli forces on the ground in the Gaza Strip could prevent the manufacture of rockets and the smuggling of arms into the Strip. "Professionally speaking," he said, "if Israel wants to prevent any high-trajectory rocket or mortar fire, it must establish good control on the ground." At the same time, Israel is examing anew the possibility of purchasing one of two overseas anti-rocket weapons systems to combat the Qassams, according to defense officials, because the Israeli-made Iron Dome system, currently under development at Rafael, the Armaments Development Authority, will not be operational before 2010. [...] According to Nehushtan, who will take command of the IAF on May 14, while "local arms production is a matter of know-how ... if Israeli forces are present on the ground, as they are in the West Bank, then we can stop the development and manufacture of rockets and other weapons in time." Asked whether the Gaza problem could be solved militarily, he referred to Israel's Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in April 2002. "It took a few years [after the operation], but we managed to establish a different kind of control. The motivation of suicide bombers in the West Bank did not recede, but their capabilities did." The decision as to the role of the army, Nehushtan added, is in the hands of the country's political echelon: "In Gaza, as well, the IDF will do what it is instructed to do." [...] A high-ranking Palestinian political source claims that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has recently told an Arab state leader that he was pessimistic about the progress of the peace process, the website of the Jerusalem-based Al-Manar daily newspaper said on Sunday. According to Al-Manar's source, Abbas said that the Palestinians had agreed in the Annapolis peace conference in the US in November 2007 to begin negotiations which were supposed to end in a comprehensive peace agreement in 2008. However, nothing has been achieved so far and Israel has taken several unilateral steps aimed at creating a new de facto on the ground which renders an acceptable agreement impossible. The source added that Abbas expressed his fears that the peace process launched in Annapolis is likely to collapse thus leaving negative repercussions in the region. [...] Washington is likely to pressure Israel and the Palestinian Authority to make significant diplomatic progress before U.S. President George W. Bush visits the region in May, a senior American official predicted. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to return here in about 10 days, her second visit this month. She will urge both parties to fulfill their obligations under the road map peace plan and advance on final-status talks. [...] The "moderate" Palestinian government will rebuild the home of a West Bank militant leader who was killed by Israel Defense Forces last week, an official said Sunday, in an apparent response to similar offers from the Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas. [*** Aufgrund der historischen Dimension wird es keine Kommentare hier zu dem Besuch geben.]
Vice Premier Haim Ramon said on Saturday that Israel's failure to dismantling settler outposts in the West Bank is hurting bilateral relations with the United States. Ramon's comment came after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday neither Israel nor the Palestinians have done "nearly enough" to meet peace commitments. [...] West Bank settlements have expanded their jurisdictions by taking control of private Palestinian land and allocating it to settlers. The land takeover - which the Civil Administration calls "theft" - has occured in an orderly manner, without any official authorization. The method of taking over land is being publicized for the first time, based on testimony from a hearing on an appeal filed by a Kedumim resident, Michael Lesence, against a Civil Administration order to vacate 35 dunams (almost 9 acres) near the Mitzpe Yishai neighborhood of the settlement. Official records show the land as belonging to Palestinians from Kafr Qaddum. [...] Zeev Mushinsky, the "land coordinator" at the Kedumim local council, testified as to how it works: Council employees, Mushinsky in this case, would map the "abandoned lands" around the settlements, even if they were outside the council's jurisdiction, with the aim of taking them over. The council would "allocate" the lands to settlers, who would sign an official form stating that they have no ownership claim on the m, and that the council is entitled to evict them whenever it sees fit, in return for compensating them solely for their investment in cultivating the land.
Only after studying law did Rina (not her real name) come to believe that the authorities had trampled on her rights when she sought protection from her ex-husband, who used to beat her, she says. When Rina, 27, learned several months ago that the police had reached a deal with her ex-husband in which he admitted to making threats instead of assault - without informing her - she contacted the police to inform them they were violating the law on the victims of criminal offenses. The police subsequently nixed the deal and filed a harsher indictment against Rina's ex-husband. But Rina, who is represented by attorney Naomi Levenkron from the College of Management's legal clinic, is seeking to have the indictment dropped and replaced with one that would "better address the reign of terror that the plaintiff had been forced to endure," in Levenkron's words. The Tel Aviv Police District's claims department denies the police had violated the law. The police also deny that the officers to whom Rina filed the complaint refused to accept Rina's personal diary as evidence - as required according to the law pertaining to evidence admission. "I didn't know the law at the time," Rina says. She adds: "Now I know that knowledge is power."
Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday responded publicly to allegations that he and his wife spent NIS 131,000 on a six-day trip to London during last year's Second Lebanon War. "I paid for my personal expenses out of my own pocket," Netanyahu told a news conference in Ashkelon on Sunday. I acted for the state, not at the expense of the state." The opposition leader denounced the allegations against him as attempts by his rivals to keep the Likud from rising to power and replacing the current government. He said that as elections approached he expected character attacks to worsen, and vowed that he would not be "deterred." During the press conference, Netanyahu blasted the cabinet for its policy on rocket fire and said that the nation wanted a "new" and "improved" government that would focus on protecting its citizens. [...] Joshua Rowe, the Manchester millionaire who invited Benjamin Netanyahu on behalf of the British Jewish community for a "hasbara" campaign during the Second Lebanon War, said Netanyahu told him the Knesset approved his trip and rejected claims that business interests were behind his willingness to underwrite the trip's estimated 15,000 pound cost, a third of which he says Israel Bonds reimbursed.
Gideon Levy, "A minister of war": Defense Minister Ehud Barak is a bitter disappointment. He was the first statesman who dared suggest brave, though lacking, solutions. Now, he has turned into the chief saboteur of any chance for a calm in the fighting, a cease-fire or diplomatic progress. Barak has long forsaken talk of peace. He certainly does not believe in Olmert's peace initiative and istrying his best to destroy it. If you fear Likud Chair Benjamin Netanyahu, how much worse can his potential damage to the peace process be than Barak's? Their rhetoric, as well as their actions, have now become indistinguishable. If calm seems at hand, Barak gives the go-ahead for a silly and dangerous assassination attempt in tranquil Bethlehem; just to rekindle the fire, lest there be a lull. [...] Uzi Benziman, "No picnic for Meretz": Meretz, which is holding elections two days from now to choose its leader, is reminiscent of the spider in Krylov's fables, who reached the summit of the mountain borne on the wings of an eagle and boasted that it, too, was capable of reaching such heights until a strong wind blew it into the abyss. Meretz boasts that it succeeded in "motivating" the center parties and uses that fact to explain its political weakness, but the truth is that this is only a wish: Kadima, Labor and the Pensioners Party were not "motivated"; they are implementing a security-diplomatic plan of action that is no different from that carried out by the rightist camp when it was in power, and this outcome invites a discussion of the question of why the Israeli left is so weak politically.
Während die Libanesen vorerst ihre Teilnahme an dem Treffen Arabischen Liga abgesagt haben... Slain Hezbollah chief Imad Mughniyah used to enter Syria under assumed names, stay in residential apartments and didn't take any safety precautions, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba on Sunday, providing the first details regarding the assassination. Moallem didn't say who was responsible for the assassination, but insinuated that it was Israel, saying "one must ask oneself who gained most from it. Israel tops the list of those who stood to gain."