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Right-Wing Israeli Party Rejects US Conditions for Annexing Judea and Samaria

By World Israel News

The conditions America is imposing on Israel in order for the Trump Administration to recognize the proposed annexation of settlements by Israel are among the reasons the right-wing Yemina party is not joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government, Maariv reported Sunday. In an interview published last week in the Israel Hayom newspaper, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman strongly hinted that the Trump administration would recognize Israeli annexation of settlements in Judea and Samaria so long as certain conditions were met. Among the conditions are a freeze on settlement expansion on those towns Israel will not annex and an agreement that the prime minister will negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan, which includes a future Palestinian state – two policies to which Yemina says it cannot agree. While other right-wing supporters also did not approve of these the two conditions, it was a risk worth taking because, in their opinion, a future Palestinian state will likely never come out of the Trump plan. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah rejected the plan outright, and the Hamas terror group that controls Gaza is not interested in any peace plan, let alone the reconciliation with the PA required to form an independent state before the four-year time frame of the Trump plan expires. "I am receiving lots of comments from our activists and supporters as well as from other parties, which strengthen us in our decision to go to the opposition with our heads up and present a genuine right-wing alternative to the left-wing government that is going to stand here headed by Netanyahu," Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted. "It is not a shame to serve the people of Israel from the opposition." American leaders had hinted they would not oppose Israeli annexation in Judea and Samaria, but Friedman was the first to voice actual conditions that Israel would have to meet to get American recognition of any decision to declare sovereignty over settlements. That included promises to not expand housing, but only build up on existing buildings in any settlements outside those that are annexed. "In this situation, it is better for Yemina to remain in opposition than for a relatively short time to be faced with the dilemma of supporting something that is against the party's and the sector's ideology or to support it up from within the government."

Pompeo to Visit Israel on the Day its New Government is Sworn in

By DEBKAfile

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to pay a short visit to Israel on May 13, ending a pause in his international travels due to coronavirus. He will meet both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, an old friend, and Benny Gantz, the new "alternative prime minister," on the day that the pair take office as joint heads of a unity national government. The visit is clearly a gesture of US support. The first high-ranking foreign official to visit Israel since the outbreak of coronavirus will, like his hosts, will first be tested for the virus, wear masked and curb friendly gestures.

Pompeo is widely expected to talk about reactivating President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan, Iran's "malign actions" in the region and cooperation in fighting the covid-19 pandemic. While doing so, he will undoubtedly take a first, curious look at the new Israel lineup, say DEBKAfile's sources, and report back to the White House on his impressions. For the first time in years, a Netanyahu-led cabinet will not be composed exclusively of right wing and religious ministers; some like Gantz, are centrists or left-of-center like certain members of his party and a couple of Labor members. The visitor will no doubt try and find out whether Netanyahu intends to go through with announcing the annexation of areas of Judea, Samaria and Jordan Valley as soon as July 1 as allowed under the Trump peace plan and the coalition deal with Gantz. The peace plan also offers the Palestinians an independent through demilitarized state, which has raised objections to Netanyahu's compliance in nationalist circles to the right of the new government. The coalition deal stipulates that Israel must take into account regional stability and existing peace agreements when going forward with annexation. Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab nations to have signed peace accords with Israel, have voiced strong objections to the step along with other Arab leaders. Both have developed important security interdependence with Israel and may be content with strong rhetoric. The Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will not. He has put before the PLO executive a radical plan. He wants support for his decision to dissolve the dissolve the Palestinian Authority if the Netanyahu-Gantz government annexes one inch of the West Bank. By breaking up the PA, Abbas intends to saddle Israel with the administration and care for all civic needs of two million Palestinian denizens of the territory – health, water, economy, jobs etc. It is up to Netanyahu to decide whether to go for what many of his supporters see as a one-time opportunity for establishing Israeli sovereignty in the heartland of Jewish history, or decide that the international fallout is too high a price to pay and wait for another chance.

Ukrainian Police Official Requests List of Jews in Western City of Kolomyya

By JTA

A Ukrainian Jewish group accused the nation's police force of "open anti-Semitism" after a high-ranking police official requested a list of all Jews in the western city of Kolomyya as part of an inquiry into organized crime. Kolomyya and its environs, located about 250 miles southwest of Kiev, has several hundred Jews. The official request to the head of Kolomyya's Jewish community is dated Feb. 18, 2020, according to a photograph of the document that Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, shared on Twitter Sunday. "Please provide us the following information regarding the Orthodox Jewish religious community of Kolomyya, namely: The organization's charter; list of members of the Jewish religious community, with indication of data, mobile phones and their places of residence," read the letter. The letter was signed by Myhaylo Bank, a high-ranking officer in the national police force who handles organized crime. The letter did not explain his unit's particular interest in Kolomyya's Jews. The head of the city's Jewish community, Jacob Zalichker, declined on Feb. 25 to provide the requested information, adding that his community would comply only when presented with a court-ordered warrant. "It's a total disgrace and open anti-Semitism," Dolinsky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "It's especially dangerous when it comes from a law enforcement agency that we have to fight the very thing it is perpetrating."

Military Intelligence Chief Misled Israeli Leaders Ahead of 1973 War, Declassified Doc Reveals

By Haaretz

"Severe professional failure." With those three words, the Agranat Commission summed up a key chapter in its report on Israel's intelligence failure before the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This chapter, which addresses Military Intelligence's "special means" of collecting intelligence, remained classified for nearly 50 years. Few people even knew of its existence. Only recently, during research by the Yom Kippur War Center, was it found in the Israel Defense Forces' archives. The chapter's conclusions are "unequivocal," says Prof. Uri Bar-Joseph, a member of the center who has written several studies on the intelligence failure of 1973. "They settle all the disputes that existed on this issue once and for all." The Agranat Commission's bottom line was that MI's director, Eli Zeira, erred by not activating these "special means" in time, even though they could have warned about the Egyptian offensive that launched the war. "It was his obligation to enable contact to be made with these sources so as to do everything possible to determine the enemy's intentions," the document reads. "A mistake that leads to the non-utilization of a vital intelligence source when it is most needed is a severe professional failure." But the criticism didn't end there. The commission believed that Zeira misled Israel's military and political leaders, including Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar and Prime Minister Golda Meir, into thinking he had activated the "special means," even though he hadn't. The exact nature of these means remains unclear to this day. Various reports, both in Israel and abroad, say they were sophisticated listening devices that could record telephone calls by Egyptian army officers. On the eve of the war in October 1973, Israel's decision-makers were sure the technology would give the country a 48-hour warning. "The logic behind putting faith in these means was clear," Bar-Joseph says. "No army can launch a major, complex war without maintaining regular contact with combat units in the days before the shooting starts." And because the Egyptians were aware of Israel's ability to monitor their radio chatter, MI knew that sensitive information would only be conveyed by phone, not by radio. The special means were meant to solve this problem. Some researchers say a special-means warning could have given the IDF enough time to prepare for war. Others say this shouldn't be exaggerated. But the newly discovered document shows that the Agranat Commission attributed great importance to the technology. The six-page document (some of which is still censored) was discovered by Or Fialkov, a volunteer at the Yom Kippur War Center. Under the heading "Contact with Sources," it says: "MI had a source of information with excellent access to affairs and very high credibility" that could have provided a warning. Zeira even told the commission that the day he took office, he "made a special effort to make contact with these sources ... on the assumption that from them, Israel would ultimately obtain a warning." He considered the material these sources could provide "indisputably credible." Still, the document said, "The problem was that contact with these sources was extremely sensitive." In other words, employing the means posed the risk of exposing them. Zeira told the commission he thought they should be used in situations of "uncertainty," "serious doubts" or "the lack of an explanation." As he put it, "In a situation where I felt I didn't understand what was happening, I decided I had to take the risk." But starting on October 1, a few days before the war, Zeira rejected repeated appeals to activate the special means.

Yossi Langotsky, who commanded the unit responsible for deploying the technology before the war, said that both Menachem Digli, the head of MI's intelligence gathering unit, and Yoel Ben-Porat, the headed of MI's main wiretapping unit, both urged Zeira to activate the special means. They argued that the need for a warning outweighed concerns about the security of these sources. But Zeira refused. On the night between October 4 and 5, Zeira allowed a test of the technology, but didn't let it be used to collect information. "The main concern was fear of burning the contact," the commission wrote. Zeira tried to explain to the commission why he delayed an activation of the technology. "This wasn't a situation where I felt I lacked information; I had information in great abundance. The situation was that I lacked an explanation for it – that because of it, I had serious doubts.... I felt I had a lot of information ... so my mode of thinking was how to interpret what I had, not how to look for what I didn't have." When the commission asked him why he didn't consult with Elazar, he replied, "My nature doesn't lead me to shunt responsibility upward." But the commission criticized this approach. "There's a positive aspect to this willingness to accept responsibility upon himself and ease the responsibility on his superior ... but in the circumstances of this case, it doesn't seem to the commission that this general tendency should have been decisive," it wrote. "Regarding a decision of such great importance to the chief of staff's steps, the chief of staff would have been willing to hear the MI director's recommendation and then ... express his own opinion." Moreover, testimony to the commission indicated that military and political decision-makers were misled to think that Zeira had no second thoughts because he had used the special means. According to the document, Golda Meir "testified that it was entirely clear to her that he was receiving intelligence via contact with the said sources." Meanwhile, the document states that Dayan, the defense minister, asked the MI director on October 5, the day before the war, "if there was nothing special" from these sources. "The MI director responded that he had a lot of intelligence and that he was utilizing all possible intelligence sources and warnings." According to the document, Zeira "testified that it was reasonable that the defense minister was referring in his question to all sources, and didn't think for a moment that the intention was precisely the said sources." The commission criticized the MI director on this point. "Zeira, who closely and constantly deals with this subject, should have been aware that his statements would lead the defense minister to understand the situation regarding the conducting of contact with these sources." That is, the committee concluded that the MI director led the decision-makers to believe that the means were working, but that they did not indicate war. Forty-seven years after the war, historians, military experts and intelligence experts are still divided over several basic questions regarding the use of the special means. The fact that some of the information is still censored has made it hard to get to the full truth and contributed to the publishing of half-truths, contradictions and lies on the matter. The key issue then was if, when and how the technology would be operated. Did it have the power to provide sufficient warning to prevent a surprise attack? Also, did Zeira lie to his superiors when he let them think the means were operating correctly? According to Bar-Joseph, the document provides answers that make the reader wonder. "The means weren't activated in the week before the war," he concludes. "Zeira let his superiors understand that the means were activated but didn't indicate anything." In the end, just hours before the war broke out on Yom Kippur morning, October 6, the special means were fully activated. But at this point their contribution to the intelligence assessment was negligible. The head of the Mossad, Zvi Zamir, had already provided proof that war was imminent – from Egyptian agent Ashraf Marwan. The question remains whether the special means would have provided a warning if they had been activated earlier. The Agranat Commission concluded that it was impossible to know "what intelligence they would have provided had the contact using them been maintained." It's possible, for example, that the Egyptians would have made sure their phone conversations were difficult to decipher. The commission members, in any case, wrote that they wouldn't engage in "speculation." At the bottom lies a paradox. The special means, which were established to prevent the possibility of a surprise attack, actually made one more possible. The decision-makers were misled to believe that the technology had been activated, so they believed that there couldn't be a total surprise. The commission ended the document with a warning to all intelligence officials. "Maintaining sources is not an end in and of itself," the commission said. "If the fear of maintaining them overrides the readiness to use them at the time of need, they lose all value, and a mistake that leads to the non-exploitation of a vital intelligence source at the time it is most needed is a grave professional failure."

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