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Israeli Firm will Secure Vatican City

By Israel Faxx News Services

An Israeli company has won a contract to secure Vatican City, Yediot Achranot reported. The Herzliya-based intelligent video appliances firm ioimage has won a contract estimated at $4 million to $5 million to secure sensitive areas of Vatican City.

Roni Kaz, director of ioimage, told the newspaper that the examination of the city and its needs took three years. The system includes "smart" security cameras that can be viewed in real time by computers connected to the Internet.

Olmert Announces He Wants Quick Peace Deal


Five days after WND broke the story exposing secret Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at reaching an agreement on core issues, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Tuesday in Washington his intention to continue negotiations in hope of an agreement on core issues.

"In principle there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future," Olmert said regarding ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. "We're in a situation where it's possible to do so, and I hope we do. It would be good for the state of Israel," said Olmert speaking to Israeli reporters after a meeting with President Bush.

Speaking of "a painful sacrifice of parts of the land of Israel and the history of the Jewish people," Olmert told reports now was the "time for decisions. I am ready to make that decision, and I hope the other side will make it as well," he said. "You don't need months to make a decision."

Last week, informed Israeli and Palestinian sources told WND that despite media reports painting a dismal picture of negotiation prospects, Israel and the PA were still quietly working to conclude a major agreement before President Bush leaves office.

The agreement would seek an eventual major West Bank withdrawal and grant the PA permission to open official institutions in Jerusalem. But it would postpone talks on the future status of the capital city until new Israeli and U.S. governments are installed next year. A top source said the PA requested that as part of the understandings, the U.S. would threaten sanctions for any new Jewish construction in the West Bank.

Israel recaptured the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War. The territory, in which about 200,000 Jews live, is tied to Judaism throughout the Torah and is often referred to as the biblical heartland of Israel.

The understandings both sides are trying to reach before January are part of an original plan initiated at last November's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit, which sought to create a Palestinian state, at least on paper, by January. The summit launched talks aimed at concluding a final status agreement on all core issues: borders, the status of Jerusalem and the future of so-called Palestinian refugees.

But a final agreement has been hampered by several recent events here, most notably Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to resign amid corruption charges, leading to general elections scheduled for February that will see a new prime minister elected.

The candidate for office from Olmert's Kadima party, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, is said to oppose reaching a deal on Jerusalem or refugees ahead of elections, fearing it will harm her prospects among center-right voters. Livni is Olmert's chief negotiator with the Palestinians.

A Palestinian source told WND the U.S. is said to favor Israel withdrawing from nearly the entire West Bank. Also being heavily negotiated is an agreement that would allow the PA to officially open institutions in Jerusalem.

WND previously reported the PA already has been quietly operating in Jerusalem, apparently with tacit approval from the Israeli government. But the expected agreement to be concluded before January would give the PA official operational status in the city, likely leading to the opening of scores of Palestinian institutions there.

Obama and Peres

By The New Republic (Commentary)

I don't know whether there are many foreign eminences who are trying to trap Barack Obama into their own positions. But there is certainly one, and he is Shimon Peres, the insatiably vain president of Israel. Peres has been telling people, at public gatherings and in private, that in conversation with Obama on his summer visit to Israel the then-candidate, now president-elect confided to him that the 2002 Saudi peace plan had "impressed" him greatly.

Peres has, however, denied that Obama whispered to him further that he thought Israel would be nuts to reject it. Who can tell what, if anything, Peres says is ever the truth?

The fact is that Peres is a liar, actually a mythomaniac. I was told this many many years ago by Golda Meir, who was honest and, if anything, honest to a fault. In any case, duplicity and sanctimony are seen as Peres' essence by the Israeli population which is why he was never elected prime minister. (He also never served in the armed forces which makes him unique to his society and surely unique to his generation. But that's another matter.)

Efraim Halevy, a former head of the Mossad, has written his memoirs, Man in the Shadows, and there you can read a truly authoritative and hair-raising narrative of Peres' jealousy of Yitzhak Rabin and his delirium to become a pet of King Hussein. This is a pathological case of assiduous mendacity. By the way, Halevy has written frequently for TNR.

What Peres was clearly trying to do with his citations to Obama's view was to hitch Obama to his own delusions. Peres' are at best daffy. He still believes we are in the New Middle East. However grim the tidings, Peres is ushering in the new middle east. I once was at a meeting of the United Jewish Appeal at Rockefeller Center, and an excited Peres told the assembled skeptics that Israel had new and promising bonds with Djubouti, a country at the tip of Africa but still in the new Middle East. Mazal tov! I wondered if the name of this statelet was actually Jewbooty.

It is a dangerous prank to play on Obama. He needs to know that his conversations with Peres are not going to be retold when the spirit moves his host. I myself don't doubt that Peres has been going around saying that Obama thought Israel would be crackers if it didn't take up the King's offer. What I doubt is that Obama said anything like this in the first place.

Obama is too careful (and rightfully careful) to issue such obiter dicta to a person utterly without real power. And he surely would not do so as a candidate to someone widely recognized as a blabbermouth.

Still, the fact is that I, too, am impressed by the Saudi reconsideration of its stubborn habits and historical positions. But what we are talking about is not a plan but an attitude, and an attitude that still leaves all of the problems open. That is to say, closed. It is an invitation to talk, yes. And there have been some crimped happenstance encounters, but nothing more.

Saudi Arabia, which does not allow open Christian worship in the country, is, in any event, now absorbed in the monarch's new idea which is conducting talkfests about religious tolerance. But, believe me; even Bibi Netanyahu would not shut the door in His Majesty's face.

I wish I could contain my disrespect for Peres. I know he is a Nobel Laureate having been chosen to share the honor with Rabin and Yasir Arafat in the wake of the Oslo Agreements which turned out not to be agreements at all. The honor and the cash were awarded to the lucky three, yes, exactly in Oslo by the Norwegian monarch, a nice modern middle class king without pretensions or grandeur.

Rabin is now long-dead, assassinated by the vipers in Israeli life. But I suspect that, had he lived, he would have long ago turned back the medal and the money. He was not one to countenance fraud. Arafat, on the other hand, was a clown, and he must have taken this gesture of the Norwegian parliament as the consummation of his life

Peres still believes in Oslo even though no one else does. Last Thursday, he bowed before Queen Elizabeth II as she knighted him with a baronetcy. Alas, for poor Peres, Israel recognizes no such honors.

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