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Eldad: Israel Now Alone Against Iran's Nuke Threat


Aryeh Eldad, a current Knesset member in the National Union-National Religious Party, said Wednesday that Barack Hussein Obama's win of the U.S. presidency leaves Israel alone against Iran's developing nuclear threat.

Eldad said that Obama is likely to pay for deals in the region with the currency of Israeli concessions, and that "Obama wants to talk to Iran and has already accepted a nuclear Iran."

Palestinians Welcome Obama Election, Israelis Skeptical

By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Jerusalem) &

Many Palestinians in the West Bank are praising Barack Obama's election as the next U.S. president, saying he brings new hope for the stalled peace process. Israelis, on the other hand, received the news with disappointment, expressing concerns that Obama may pressure Israel to concede too much in the peace negotiations.

A Palestinian woman said she woke up to the news that Obama had been elected, and she said it was news she welcomed. She said that as a Palestinian woman, she sends her congratulations to Obama. All of the past U.S. presidents, she said, have been the same and not one has supported the Palestinians. But she said she hopes Obama would be better, and would be a leader who takes the Palestinian people's lives into account.

At a hotel in Ramallah, Maha Ibrahim, a 20-year-old university student, watches the election returns on a television screen at an election party hosted by the U.S. Consulate. She said she hopes that Obama, as a black minority in a predominantly white country and as the son of a Muslim father, will be more sympathetic to the Palestinians. But, she said, his spoken commitment to peace, and his calls for a pullout from Iraq, are what give her the most hope.

Reaction to the news of Obama's victory was not so positive in Jewish West Jerusalem, where many Israelis saw John McCain as a stronger supporter of Israel. This 67-year-old Israeli woman said she was born in Israel and has lived through several wars with Arabs. She said Obama's willingness to engage Iran and his outreach to Palestinians made her feel unsafe. She said Obama's election presents a danger for Israel and a danger for America.

A statement from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel expects that close cooperation with the new U.S. administration would continue, along with the strengthening of what she described as the special and unshakable relationship that exists between the two countries.

The Hamas terrorist group believes the election of Obama is an "historic victory" for the world and an opportunity to change U.S. foreign policy toward engagement with America's foes, Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' chief political adviser in the Gaza Strip, told WND in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

Yousef, speaking by cell phone from Gaza, said Hamas is drafting a letter of congratulation to be sent Thursday directly to Obama. He said the current draft of the letter praises the president-elect as "another John F. Kennedy, or great Roosevelt. We want to be one of the first to congratulate him," Yousef said.

Yousef told WND he believes an Obama administration would be more willing to engage in dialogue with Hamas. He said Obama's job would be to "restore America's dignity in the world and put an end to the wars in the region."

Yousef seemed aware his comments and Hamas' expected letter to Obama may generate some negative publicity for Obama, but he said he feels it important to "reach out and to express our thoughts and engage. I praised him six months ago, some people tried to use that against him. But I knew he would win. Like everyone else, we expected this important victory," he said.

Yousef was referring to an interview he gave to WND and WABC Radio in April in which he praised Obama and then found his comments had fueled a firestorm of accusations in the presidential campaign. In April, Yousef stated he hoped Obama would become president and compared the Illinois senator to President John F. Kennedy. We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the election."

Sen. John McCain repeatedly used Yousef's remarks to criticize Obama's foreign policy. Obama has condemned Hamas as a terrorist group that should be isolated until it recognizes Israel. He claimed McCain was using the Hamas comments as a "smear."

Hamas is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, rocket attacks, shootings and cross-border raids. Its official charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel. And just Wednesday, Hamas members took responsibility for launching dozens of rockets from Gaza aimed at Jewish civilian population centers.

Iran Warns U.S. Military After U.S. Election

By Reuters

Iran warned U.S. forces in Iraq on Wednesday that it would respond to any violation of Iranian airspace, message analysts said seemed directed at the new U.S. president-elect more than neighboring American troops.

The Iranian army statement, reported by state radio, came after a cross-border raid last month by U.S. forces into Syria, a move that was condemned by Damascus and Tehran.

But an Iranian politician said the timing suggested it was directed at Barack Obama, who won Tuesday's U.S. vote, more than the U.S. military, and might reflect concern by hardliners in Iran who thrived on confrontation with Washington. Obama has said he would toughen sanctions on Iran but has also held out the possibility of direct talks to resolve rows, which include a dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"Recently it has been seen that American army helicopters were flying a small distance from Iraq's border with Iran and, because of the closeness to the border, the danger of them violating Iran's border is possible," state radio reported. Iran's armed forces will respond to any violation," radio said, citing a statement from Iran's army headquarters.

The two countries are also at loggerheads over Iran's disputed nuclear work. Washington says Tehran is seeking an atomic bomb. Tehran says it wants the technology to make electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas.

Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said he hoped Obama would make "fundamental changes in the approach of the United States towards global issues" and end "aggression towards other countries," state broadcaster IRIB reported.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, according to IRNA news agency: "The election of Barack Obama ... is a clear sign of the American people's wish and desire for fundamental changes in America's domestic and foreign policies."

Obama, like Bush, has not ruled out military action although he has criticized the outgoing administration for not pushing for more diplomacy and engagement with Iran. "Change of political figures is not important by itself. What is more important is a change of American policy," Ali Aghamohammadi, a close aide to Iran's most powerful figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Reuters.

Iran has warned it would respond to any attack on its territory by targeting U.S. interests and America's ally Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway at the mouth of the Gulf and vital route for world oil supplies.

Nationalist Jewish Party Courts Arab Voters in Jerusalem


The National Union-National Religious Party faction in Jerusalem is courting Arab voters under the slogan, "Only we really want your neighborhood to stay within the boundaries of Jerusalem and inside the barrier." The initiative has been greeted with enthusiasm, activists said.

Activists took to the streets on Wednesday to meet with Arabs living in Jerusalem neighborhoods to the east of the separation barrier being built in the city. The group was led by united Jerusalem activist Aryeh King. Arab residents of Anata, near Mount Scopus, greeted the group warmly.

Residents of the neighborhood complained that the standard of living in their community had dropped sharply due to fears that the area would not be included within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem in a future peace deal, but rather would be left to Palestinian Authority control. Arab residents of Jerusalem are eligible for benefits from Israel and receive services from the city, and in addition have permits allowing them to work for Israeli employers.

One resident told activists that the value of his home had dropped sharply due to threats that Anata would be cut off from the rest of the city. He said was planning to vote for the NU-NRP because only they could be trusted to move the separation barrier further east. Another resident thanked King, saying, "You're our only chance to stay in Jerusalem."

King has encountered similar reactions in the past due to his efforts to build and strengthen Jewish neighborhoods in areas of Jerusalem with an Arab majority. While such efforts have often been met with hostility in the past, King said many Arabs have recently thanked him and expressed hope that the presence of Jewish-owned buildings in their neighborhoods will add to the chances that the areas will remain within the Jerusalem city limits.

The activists handed out fliers in Arabic explaining the party's platform. "Only the 'Tov' party list has candidates who have proved their willingness to fight to keep the neighborhoods of Anata, HaShalom, Ras Hamis, and Shuafat within the Jerusalem city limits," the flier said. The NU-NRP party will act to improve infrastructure in Arab neighborhoods, it continued, "We'll work to make the standard of living in your neighborhoods equal to that elsewhere in the city."

The flier went on to explain the difference between NU-NRP and other parties, "For us, 'Jerusalem' isn't a political matter, it is a part of us, so we won't let any mayor or government cut your neighborhoods off from the rest of Jerusalem... We will oppose the completion of the separation barrier and work to move it eastward."

Getting Ready for Obama

By (Editorial)

A powerful chorus in this country will now call for Livni to be elected, because her commitment to compromise will suit Obama's initial agenda. The election of Barack Obama, an epochal event in America's history, nevertheless fills many people with trepidation.

At a time when America and its allies face their greatest international challenge since the passing of the Cold War, Obama comes to his office with limited experience of international affairs. His perception of the field, insofar as he is known to have expressed it, seems informed partly by naïve and ideologically motivated preconceptions: to solve a conflict, sit down with an adversary, decide on a bargain, implement it, and then go home. This seems to be his approach to adversaries like Iran.

With respect to the Middle East, his strategy appears to be to form a coalition against Iran by forcing Israel to "solve" its problems with Syria and the Palestinians through territorial withdrawals, after which a pro-Western Syria and a democratic and independent Palestine will no doubt emerge.

Nothing could be more important than to disabuse the new American president of these naive perceptions, if indeed they are his, as fast as possible. In recent years most Israelis, if not their current leaders now in the twilight of their term, have learned that in this region, one's adversary's ambitions are not determined by any particular goal, but by perceptions of one's own morale and vulnerability.

One who surrenders and retreats in hopes of gaining a little peace places his own survival in jeopardy. Such has been Israel's experience at least since the year 2000, and such will be the experience of the United States if it sacrifices the interests of its allies in the pursuit of facile and elusive "solutions."

The fact is that Israel's power is the keystone of any regional coalition against Iran; even if Israel's more moderate Arab neighbors would prefer not to admit that fact in public. Anything that weakens Israel will weaken, not strengthen, America's ability to form a regional coalition against Iran, and will tempt Arab leaders to succumb to popular pressure to concentrate on further dissecting Israel rather than on containing Iran.

Obama's election is said by certain Israeli pundits to be "good for" Tzipi Livni. Obama will pressure Israel into retreating, and Livni is more than ready to retreat, even though last night's rockets on the city of Ashkelon indicate how likely it is that territorial concessions will incline our enemies to peace. A powerful chorus in this country will now call for Livni to be elected, because her commitment to searching for compromise, even when none exists, will suit Obama's initial agenda.

What Israel needs is not an easy time in Washington, but a leader who rationally and consistently will educate the American administration that compromise on vital interests is a sure path to more violence.

Yet, the interests of the United States, of Israel, and indeed of America's other allies in the region do not depend on whether smiles or frowns initially characterize relations between the White House and Israel's next prime minister. What Israel needs is not an easy time in Washington, but a leader who fearlessly, rationally and consistently, without needless friction, but without flinching from friction when necessary, will educate the American administration to the fact that compromise on vital interests is a sure path to more violence and a more intractable conflict and in any case is no longer on Israel's agenda.

Any Israeli prime minister who undertakes this role will have to be brave and determined, for he will face not only foreign pressure, but vicious attempts to undermine him at home. He will need a solid and unflinching political base on which to stand.

The American elections are over, but Israel's are yet in the balance. There is much we can yet do to elect that prime minister—and to provide him with a solid political base. The most important arena in this regard are the primary elections in the Likud. The people whom Netanyahu takes with him into the Knesset will, to a decisive degree, determine how well he can stand up for what he knows are Israel's vital interests.

There are excellent, unflinching candidates for the Likud list, less well known than Dr. Binyamin Begin, but no less dedicated. They need votes, and they need other forms of material help in getting out the vote that concerned individuals here and abroad can provide. Now is the time to act, because the Likud primaries are but one month away.

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