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81 Percent of Americans Say PA Must Recognize Israel


Eighty one percent of Americans say Palestinian Authority leaders must recognize Israel's right to exist, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday. Only seven percent disagreed.

On the other hand, only 27 percent believed it was even somewhat likely PA leaders would make such a concession. With regard to whether Israel should accept a PA state, 57 percent of Americans agreed, 20 percent disagreed, and 22 percent were undecided.

Report: Israel Ready for a Possible Iran Operation

By UPI &

The Israeli Air Force
is aware of the role it may have to play in any possible military operation against Iran, its commander said. Maj.Gen. Ido Nehushtan told a Jerusalem press conference Tuesday, the army realizes it must prepare for all options, and has drilled for long distance attack missions, Ma'ariv reported. "The air force is working and preparing for a wide range of missions, both short and long distance, and will remain prepared," Ma'ariv quoted Nehushtan as saying. While the commander refused to say whether Israel intended to attack Iran, he did say: "Any other solution is preferable. It is the Air Force's position to create options." Nehushtan also said Israel's air force is also keeping a close eye on Syria and Hizbullah following reports Syria has purchased Air Force Commander Major-General Ido Nehushtan said Tuesday that the Israel Defense Forces was preparing for any option in terms of the Iranian nuclear threat, Nehushtan said in a press briefing in honor of the IAF's 61st anniversary.

Asked to elaborate on the Iranian issue and the recent clashes in the Islamic republic following the disputed presidential elections, Nehushtan said it was too early to make any statements and understand the process taking place there. He added that the Middle East was in the process of a change, implying – among other things – to efforts exerted by countries in the close vicinity to obtain more advanced weapons.

Is Mousavi Worse for Israel? Israeli Experts Divided

Israeli experts disagree on whether the Jewish state is better off with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president, or with his challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi. While Mousavi is seen as more moderate than the incumbent, many experts think this actually makes him a greater threat – because the danger he poses is harder to see.

Mossad director Meir Dagan told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week that "if the reformist candidate Mousavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat."

As prime minister in the late 1980s, Mousavi was among the initiators of Iran's military nuclear program, explained veteran analyst Ron Ben-Yishai in a recent article on the Hebrew language website Ynet. "He was the one who began the clandestine program for acquisition of know-how and equipment for nuclear weapons production from Pakistani scientist Abd-el Kadr Khan."

In addition, Mousavi made it clear on the eve of the recent elections that he would continue Iran's nuclear program as president, meaning that his election probably would not cause Iran to give up its military nuclear ambition.

Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is "a diplomatic asset for the West in general and for Israel in particular. His Shi'ite fanaticism and Holocaust denial have frightened Arab and Western countries and assisted in creation of a global anti-Iranian front," Ben-Yishai added.

Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University, agrees. "Just because Mousavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn't mean he's a nice guy. After all, he was approved by the Islamic leadership," he is quoted as saying by CBS News. "If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Mousavi we have a serpent with a nice image."

"Mousavi and Ahmadinejad are from the same school, and we have already seen Mousavi as an enemy of Israel supporting terrorist groups," said Menashe Amir, who hosts Voice of Israel Radio's daily Persian language news show, which is very popular in Iran. "Mousavi declared during the TV debates that he would not change the nuclear policy and that he won't stop Iranian support to the Palestinians."

President Shimon Peres, on the other hand, thinks that a regime change in Iran may come quicker than an end to the country's nuclear program. "You never know what will disappear in Iran first – their enriched uranium or their poor government," Peres said in a speech before the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. "I hope their poor government will disappear first."

The Iranian nation, said Peres, "is trying to bring its own image back to its culture. Let the youth shout louder for freedom and a positive policy," he said. "Let the women – a particularly courageous group – give voice to their thirst for equality."

'Closer Than Ever' to Shalit Deal


The Israeli government and Hamas are closer now than ever to accepting terms to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, according to multiple sources involved in brokering the deal. "We are making huge efforts to strike a deal on Shalit," an Egyptian security official told WND. "We are closer now than before, including during the term of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert."

Egypt has been serving as a mediator between Israel and Hamas regarding the exchange of Shalit – kidnapped in 2006 – for a large number of Palestinian convicts. Hamas has asked for the freedom of hundreds of terrorists, many of whom were directly involved in killing Israelis.

According to sources in Egypt and Hamas, former President Jimmy Carter also has been serving as a primary mediator in the Shalit affair.

The sources said Israel has expressed willingness to release hundreds of prisoners, including top terrorists whose freedom was formerly opposed by the Olmert administration. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office, however, is demanding many of the top terrorists be expelled to somewhere outside the Palestinian territories, the sources said. Netanyahu's office did not have an immediate comment on the report.

One source involved in the prisoner exchange negotiations told WND that Hamas recently passed a cassette tape from Shalit to his parents. The information could not be corroborated with other sources.

While there have been multiple reports the past few years of breakthroughs in the Shalit negotiations, many commentators in Israel long have speculated Hamas does not want to release the Israeli soldier, explaining he is too big a bargaining chip for the Islamist group to let go. Also, Hamas clearly has used the prisoner negotiations themselves as a means to gain legitimacy with the international community, pointing out that since Israel is indirectly talking to Hamas, other countries should as well.

However, according to top Hamas sources speaking to WND, a deal for the release of Shalit is likely to be finalized if an agreement is reached on a second tract – setting new Palestinian elections.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' term in office formally expired in January. He has unilaterally extended his rule based on an "emergency" law that allows the PA president to stay in office during an "emergency" for extended periods of time without new elections. Hamas has been demanding new ballots.

If talks for reconciliation between Abbas and Hamas result in an agreement on new elections for January 2010, Hamas is likely to sign a deal just before that to release Shalit, Hamas sources said.

An Egyptian security official concurred: "Hamas wants the credit for a massive prisoner release right before new elections. Palestinians will be on the streets celebrating Hamas and they may carry that sentiment over to the polls."

Hitler's Tree to Get the Ax


A tree planted in a Polish town in honor of Adolf Hitler's birthday has received its death sentence.

The local government of Jaslo, a southeastern Polish town, wants to fell and burn the 67-year-old oak, which was brought by the Nazi occupying force from the Austrian town where Hitler grew up. Jaslo's mayor, Maria Kurowska, wants to uproot the town's Nazi past by removing the tree and planting a new tree to be dedicated to the memories of Polish officers who were killed by Soviet police in April 1940. The mayor did not mention whether a new tree would be dedicated to the memories of the town's Jewish citizens murdered during the Holocaust.

However, not all agree with the mayor's decision. "The tree has not hurt anyone and is not guilty of anything," a protest organizer said. Kazimierz Polak is appealing to the municipality to preserve the tree. "It is growing healthy and tall. Let it grow."

Polak, 81, remembers when the tree was brought to his town in a gift-wrapped box. Two years later, as the Red Army was approaching, the Nazis ordered the town to be plundered. When the last Germans fled Jaslo, only 39 out of the 1,200 homes remained. Polak considers the tree to be one of the few historic artifacts of the town.

Mayor Kurowska, on the other hand, argues that the tree's symbolism wrongly honors the Nazi leader. In addition, she argues, it obstructs drivers' views from a nearby traffic circle. It's only a tree; we have hundreds of them here," Kurowska said. "Instead, I can plant trees in honor of Hitler's victims."

Prior to World War II, 28 of Jaslo's 48 shops were Jewish-owned. Jaslo's 19 Jewish restaurants and taverns were well-known among the locals and catered mainly to peasants. On Aug. 22, 1942, of the approximate 2,000 Jewish families in Jaslo, 150 able-bodied people were sent home, while the remainder was shipped to the Belzec concentration camp's gas chambers.

Not one Jew remained, not even a memorial to the Jewish community that once existed there.

One Cockroach Closes Knesset Cafeteria

By Ha'aretz

The Knesset cafeteria was closed Tuesday following an incident in which a cockroach was found in a meal ordered by one of its patrons.

Shas secretary Tzvika Yakobson discovered the cockroach in his plate of rice on Monday evening after sitting down to a meal with Shas MKs Yitzhak Cohen and Yitzhav Vaknin in the Knesset employees' cafeteria.

Knesset management ordered the temporary closure of the building's two meat cafeterias after the incident, but allowed the dairy cafeteria to remain open.

One Shas official called the incident a "scandal," adding that it was difficult to understand how a cockroach could be found on a plate at a cafeteria that operates under kosher supervision. "In addition to the grave kosher problem in this incident, there is a health problem that the Knesset officials must face," the official said.

The cockroach was found only a few days after pest control had been carried out in the Knesset cafeterias. Further pest control will now be organized and the two meat cafeterias will remain closed until at least the beginning of next week.

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