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Assad Walks Out on Olmert in Paris Summit


Syrian strongman Bashar Assad confounded some Israelis' hopes that he would sit next to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or perhaps even talk to him in the Paris Mediterranean Union summit.

Assad walked out of the auditorium before Olmert's speech at the Union of the Mediterranean summit in Paris. The two did not shake hands and sat at a distance from each other.

Assad was not the only one giving Olmert the cold shoulder in Paris: Olmert's own foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, reportedly did not speak to Olmert on the flight to Paris and even sat at a distance from him when they were received by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Israel Has U.S. 'Amber Light' on Iran Strike, but No Support


Israel will have an "amber light" from the U.S. to launch a strike on Iran if other measures fail, according to a source in the Pentagon. The statement, appearing Sunday in Britain's Sunday Times, said that President George Bush has given Israel conditional approval for an attack on the Islamic Republic if current diplomatic initiatives fail in stopping the latter's nuclear weapons program.

According to the source, a high-level defense official in the Pentagon, the President has given Israel the go-ahead on an Iran strike if sanctions and other non-military means fail, reports JPost. The unconfirmed report acknowledged that the "amber light" came in spite of opposition among top brass in the U.S. armed forces, and despite American worries over the political and economic consequences that such an attack would carry.

"Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you're ready," said the official.

However, Israel will not be able to count on U.S. military support for the strike, according to the official. Despite hopes that Israel will carry out the onerous task of eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat, the official added that the Israeli Air Force would not be permitted to refuel at U.S. air bases in Iraq. This contradicts recent reports indicating a willingness to allow Israel to use American bases as a staging area for the operation.

America, as the leading Western nation, expects Israel to take on the Iranian threat single-handedly, despite the global nature of the threat, according to the Pentagon official. "It's really all down to the Israelis," said the official. "This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn't believe that anything but force will deter Iran."

However, the official added, "if there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green," noting that Israel has yet to offer Bush a convincing military proposal.

Saturday, Iranian leaders repeated their threat to destroy Israel. Mojtaba Zolnour, an aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, added that his country would also wipe out the 32 US army bases in the region in response to an attack on the Islamic Republic.

"If Israel and the US fire a bullet or a missile at Iran, its forces will attack the heart of Israel and 32 American bases in the region before the dust from such an attack has settled," threatened Zolnour, according to Iran's Fars news agency. He warned that such targets would be "destroyed" by the Iranian counterstrike.

Did the 'Israeli War Drill' Report Originate in Iran?


Israeli security officials here strongly denied reports the Israeli Air Force has been practicing at U.S. bases in Iraq for a possible attack against Iran. The officials also questioned the veracity of the original report, which was uncredited and which may have originated with Iran itself.

U.S. media hysteria broke out this weekend after the Jerusalem Post published an uncredited report quoting sources in the Iraqi Defense Ministry telling a "local news network" that Israeli war planes were practicing in Iraqi airspace and that massive Israeli flyovers were detected at U.S. bases in Iraq.

The Post report, which did not name the local news network that aired the information, further quoted local sources stating they heard from "former military officers" in Iraq's Anbar province that Israeli jets arrive at night from Jordan and land on a runway near the city of Hadita.

But neither the Jerusalem Post nor dozens of other English news reports quoted the original source of the information – an Iranian newspaper quoting an unspecified Iraqi news website. That claimed Iraqi news website could not immediately be found.

Security officials here said the report may have entirely originated with Iran. The Iranian dispatch citing a purported Iraqi news website was quoted by the Hebrew Israeli media and then it finally made it to the pages of the Jerusalem Post. The Post did not tell its readers where the information comes from.

Asked for a response to the reports, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman told WND, "We do not comment on the operations of the Israel Air Force." Israeli security officials speaking to WND dismissed the Arab media report as "groundless."

Obama Once Again Flip-Flops on a United Jerusalem


Sen. Barack Obama has once again changed his tune regarding his recent exclamation at a pro-Israel event that he supports Jerusalem as the Jewish state's undivided capital.

"You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech, and we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given," Obama stated during an interview on a CNN program.

"The point we were simply making was, is that we don't want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the '67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent. I was not trying to predetermine what are essentially final-status issues."

Obama was referring to a speech he gave this past November to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee during which he stated if he is elected president, "Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."

His statement then promoted outcry from the Palestinian Authority and numerous Palestinian American organizations. The day after the speech, Obama flip-flopped, also during a CNN appearance.

"Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations," he said in response to a question about whether Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the city.

Obama said "as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute" a division of the city. "And I think that it is smart for us to, to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city."

Israel recaptured eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount – Judaism's holiest site – during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians have claimed eastern Jerusalem as a future capital; the area has large Arab neighborhoods, a significant Jewish population and sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Perhaps indicating his true policy on Jerusalem, Obama has chosen an adviser on Israel-Palestinian issues well-known for his support of dividing Jerusalem. "It will be impossible to make progress on serious peace talks without putting the future of Jerusalem on the table," adviser Daniel Kurtzer said as recently as last month at conference organized by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute.

According to top Israeli diplomatic sources, Obama is expected to appoint Kurtzer as a top U.S. broker on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, has long been recognized by Israeli leaders, including prime ministers, as biased against Israel and is notorious for urging extreme concessions from the Jewish state. He was appointed as a primary Obama adviser on the Middle East earlier this year.

Obama's appointment of Kurtzer raised eyebrows among the pro-Israel Jewish community. "We oppose the appointment of Kurtzer because of his long, documented record of hostility to and severe pressure upon Israel," said Zionist Organization of America National Chairman Morton Klein.

Kurtzer has been blasted by mainstream Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He has angered Israeli leaders many times for pushing Israel into what they described as extreme concessions to the Palestinians.

"With Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States," Binyamin Netanyahu was quoted saying in 2001 by Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Kurtzer "frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace, and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel."

In Kurtzer's latest book, "Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East," he largely blames Israel for the collapse of U.S.-brokered negotiations at Camp David. Contradicting accounts by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, both of whom squarely blamed Arafat for refusing to make peace, Kurtzer argues in his book Israel did not offer enough concessions to the Palestinians.

At Camp David, Israel offered Arafat a state in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. According to multiple reports, Barak also offered Arafat the upper sections of the Temple Mount.

Report: Jew Launches Rocket into Palestinian Village


The Israeli media reported Sunday that a Jewish man was arrested in conjunction with an attempted rocket attack aimed at a Palestinian village. If the report turns out to be accurate, the arrest would be the first-ever for a Jew implicated in a rocket attack against a Palestinian population center.

The Palestinians have fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into Jewish cities, devastating communities outside the Gaza Strip and killing 13 Israelis. Hundreds more Jews were injuring in Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks.

Israeli Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld would only confirm to WND that Gilad Herman, a West Bank Jewish religious school student, was arrested Saturday "on suspicion of weapons charges following a house-to-house search one month ago."

The Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported Herman was arrested on information he was involved in a failed rocket attack last month on the Palestinian West Bank village of Burin, which neighbors Herman's school in the town of Yitzhar.

In that attempted rocket attack, the projectile failed to reach its destination, landing short just outside the parameter of Yitzhar. At the time, police and Israeli forces suspected the blast was a Palestinian attack on Yitzhar's Jewish residents, but they later found the rocket and information indicating Jews were behind the blast.

Police suspect the perpetrator of the failed attack used Internet material to learn how to build a homemade rocket.

Hebrew U. to Readmit Convicted Terrorist


A radical leftist professor at Hebrew University wants to allow a convicted Arab terrorist who stole bomb-making materials from his lab to be allowed back to the lab, Channel 2 TV reported Sunday.

Six years ago, 160 liters of acetone – a chemical which is used for making the common explosive acetone peroxide – disappeared from the Laboratory for Medicinal Chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The theft led to an investigation by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), which in turn led to the arrest of Adel Hadmi, a doctoral student at the laboratory.

According to Channel 2, Hadmi was convicted of being a member of a terror cell that planned suicide attacks against Israelis. In addition, he recruited other Arabs to the cell. He was convicted and jailed but is now free again, and would like to complete his doctoral studies in the very same laboratory the acetone was stolen from.

The laboratory's previous director, Prof. Avi Domb, adamantly vetoed the idea of Hadmi's return, but his successor, Prof. Amiram Goldblum, thinks otherwise. Goldblum, one of the founders of radical leftist group "Peace Now," said that the university has no grounds to refuse to readmit Hadmi and allow him to finish his doctorate, because he has already been punished and served his jail sentence. Last week, the lab's students were told to free a table in the lab for Hadmi.

According to watchdog group CAMERA, Goldblum was considered a radical even by his colleagues in Peace Now "after he explained away Saddam Hussein's Scud attacks and threats of annihilation as due only to Israel's alleged failure to make concessions to the Palestinians."

And in 1990, after an Arab stabbed and killed three Israelis in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem where Goldblum lives, "even his own neighbors began to stone his house in frustration at what they saw as his outspokenly pro-PLO views."

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