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Newsletter : 11fx0502.txt

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Peres: Horrors of the Holocaust Cannot be Repeated


President Shimon Peres started the Holocaust Memorial Day observance at Yad Vashem by recounting some of the horrors of the Nazi-era Holocaust in Europe.

He said that the modern state of Israel where Jews could defend themselves was a response to the Holocaust, and warned against Iran's stated intent to wipe Israel off the map, not only as a threat against Israel but against the world.

All of Israel Within Rocket Range under Hamas-Fatah State


A new illustrated map presented by the pro-Israel Americans for a Safe Israel shows that a Hamas-Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority state, with or without all the borders the PA demands, would leave all of what would remain of Israel within Katyusha missile range.

The map was created by Mark Langfan, a New York attorney and expert on military and strategic issues who has frequently appeared at Congressional committees on Capitol Hill.

A Hamas-Fatah PA state would allow the Hamas terrorist organization, whose stated aim is the destruction of Israel, to deploy Iranian and Syrian-supplied Katyusha missiles near all Israel urban centers.

Seventy percent of the population of Israel, and 80% of the country's industrial base is located in the coastal region that includes Netanya and metropolitan Tel Aviv, AFSI pointed out. One large PA city is Tulkarm, located only a few miles east of Netanya and overlooking the high-speed north-south Highway 6.

Jerusalem would be within easy range of Jericho, where the PA army is trained on a United States-funded base by American military officers.

Be'er Sheva already has been attacked by Grad Katyusha missiles from Gaza, as have been Haifa and the Galilee from Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.

"Mahmoud Abbas, our supposed 'peace' partner, has now joined forces with Hamas, the acknowledged [Hamas] terrorist group", AFSI wrote. "This is actually a declaration of war against the State of Israel since Hamas has never disguised its intentions of destroying Israel. "The Palestine Liberation Organization has used the diplomatic track, hoping to delude Israelis and the world with its words of peace, while pursuing its terrorist ideology. The truth is now out." It added that the creation of a new Arab state controlled by Hamas and Fatah would be "suicidal" for Israel.

Israel has been almost totally unified in its horror of the idea of Hamas being part of the Palestinian Authority. Even before the "unity" of the two organizations, there was the fear of a Hamas takeover in the PA's Judea and Samaria areas, as happened in Gaza.

The Obama administration has only stated that it is "studying" the new agreement between Fatah and Hamas while former U.S. President Jimmy Carter stated he thinks it is a great idea.

The Carter Center, founded in 1982 by Carter and his wife Rosalynn, commended members of Hamas and Fatah for "having the vision to begin the process of reunifying the Palestinian people."

Carter added, "Based on my years of contacts with Fatah and Hamas, I am confident that, if handled creatively and flexibly by the international community, Hamas' return to unified Palestinian governance can increase the likelihood of a two-state solution and a peaceful outcome."

Israel Imposes Sanctions After Palestinian Unity Deal

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel is imposing sanctions on the Palestinian government after a controversial unity deal between Palestinian moderates and militants. Israel has suspended tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, holding up an $88-million payment planned for this week. The decision follows a reconciliation agreement between the Western-backed Palestinian Authority and the rival Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Israel collects some tax and customs fees for the Palestinian government under peace agreements signed in the 1990s. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the "burden of proof is on the Palestinians." He said Israel needs guarantees the money will not go to Hamas, which he described as a terrorist organization.

The United States and European Union also consider Hamas a terrorist group because it has carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Israel and fired thousands of rockets across the border from Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Palestinian reconciliation agreement at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. He said the agreement should not only worry Israelis, but also people around the world who want to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu said peace is possible only with those who want to live in peace and not with Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Israeli threats would not stop reconciliation with Hamas, and he urged the international community to pressure Israel to drop the sanctions.

Hamas expelled the more moderate Palestinian Authority from Gaza during a civil war in 2007, and since then the two factions have been bitterly divided. But they decided to reconcile because the rift was widely seen as harming the Palestinian cause.

The reconciliation agreement is due to be signed Wednesday in Cairo. It calls for an interim Palestinian government to be created in the coming weeks and elections in a year.

Israel Watches Events in Syria Carefully

By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Golan Heights)

Israel is watching events in neighboring Syria carefully. Relations between the two have remained hostile since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war in which Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, but the area has been mostly quiet. Now, there is concern among Israelis that Syria's uprising could further destabilize relations.

The area along the fence marking the demilitarized zone is dotted with signs warning of land mines that were planted decades ago. "We have made no public comment," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"The turmoil in the region - and we are talking about a change that is really historic, affecting all the countries of the region - has nothing to do with us. It's about people wanting empowerment - political empowerment, economic empowerment. There's no reason whatsoever why we should insert ourselves into what ultimately is an Arab event."

Privately, officials have said they are concerned that the turmoil in Syria could further destabilize relations, and they wonder what kind of enemy Syria will be in the future.

No one is casting predictions on whether Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad will stay or go. Israel's former intelligence Chief Ephraim Halevy told VOA the uncertainty is reason for Israeli leaders to sit back and wait.

"We are concerned that in the event that Assad would ultimately have to leave the presidency in one form or another, we are faced with a host of imponderables," he said. "We have no idea who will take over. We have no idea what the relative influence will be of the Muslim Brothers, which are there, [and] what will happen to Iranian influence in Syria. We have to have to watch this very carefully."

Despite the tense relations with the Assad government, the demilitarized zone separating Israeli and Syrian forces has been quiet for decades. Syria demands the return of the Golan Heights, but has refrained from taking direct military action.

At the same time, Halevy notes that Assad has not been a partner for peace. "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know, but the devil we do know is a devil which tried a few years ago to initiate a nuclear military capability," he said. "When you come to the question of the devil you know and the devil you don't know, the devil we do know was intent on trying to craft for himself a military nuclear capability on our northern border."

The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency confirmed for the first time last week that a Syrian facility bombed in a 2007 Israeli air strike was a secret nuclear reactor. The government of Assad is a close ally of Israel's top enemies, Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Uri Saguy is a retired major general in the Israel Defense Forces who served as chief of military intelligence and once advocated peace talks with Syria. "The way they are doing business with Hizbullah in Lebanon and with the Iranians on the other [side of Syria], Israel does not like it," he said.

Israeli analysts say that is not enough to make many Israelis want the Assad government to fall. They say there is nothing to indicate that Iran would gain strategically if Assad goes.

Since the Syrian uprisings began, the Golan Heights has been the scene of rallies by Druze. Some have been in favor of President Assad, some against. Demonstrators say they want Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, but the rallies themselves have avoided mentioning Israel as a target, and they have been peaceful.

For now, Israel does not consider the rallies in the Golan or the uprisings within Syria as direct threats - as long as the area along the fence stays as quiet as it has been for the last few decades.

Netanyahu: World Must Stop Those Wishing to Destroy the Jewish People

By Ha'aretz

The threats Israel faces to its existence are real, not theoretical ones, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during the ceremony opening Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem on Sunday, urging the world not to ignore the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Speaking of the three main lessons Israel must learn in the Holocaust's wake, Netanyahu spoke first of the danger which lies in ignoring the threats of those "wishing to annihilate us," saying Israelis "mustn't bury our heads in the sand."

"Has the world learned this lesson? I doubt it. Have we learned it? I believe we have," Netanyahu said, adding, however, that "we must admit that "in the history of the Jewish people we have not always excelled in anticipating the future, sometimes repressing the bleak reality before us."

Referring further on the ability to anticipate coming catastrophes, Netanyahu said that while "many in the world, at least in the enlightened world, treat the memory of the Holocaust respectfully and seriously," that attitude, however, "recalls generals preparing for the previous war.

"It seems easier for the world to discuss the lessons of the past than implement those to the present and the future," the premier said, adding that "the Jewish people mustn't ignore the Holocaust's lessons today. Because today, new enemies are rising, and as they deny the Holocaust, call for the destruction of our people," the PM said, adding that "Iran, and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas are openly working to destroy the Jewish state."

Speaking of the world's response to such an effort, Netanyahu said that all "cultured citizens of the world, those who say they are implementing the lessons of the Holocaust, should denounce in no uncertain terms those wishing to destroy the Jewish state, and even arming themselves with nuclear weapons in order to realize those ambitions. The threat to our existence isn't a theoretical one, it cannot be minimized, it stands before us, before all of humanity, and it must be stopped," he said.

The second lesson, according to the premier, "stems from the fact that attacks on our people were always preceded by waves of hatred which prepared the ground for those attacks," insisting on the need "to expose the true face of the hate against our people. Today too there are people who charge the Jewish state with responsibility for all of the world's ills, from rising gas prices to regional instability," Netanyahu said.

The third and final lesson the premier discussed in his speech was the need for the Jewish people to take its defense in its own hands, saying: "We cannot hand over our fate to the hands of others.

"Our ties with the various countries are very important to us. But if we cannot defend ourselves, the world will not do it for us. Israel is a peace-loving country, a cultured country, developed a sea of progress in a region devoid of progress. We will stand tall against those who wish to kill us.

"It should be said here on this day to all our enemies that they should know one thing about the Jewish people – it has overcome the greatest evil humanity has ever known, and that when the people of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces say 'Never Again' they mean every word."

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