Sunday, March 09, 2008

Israel News Special

Numerous stories from Haaretz worthy of comment today. However, given that I am about to hit the sack, feel free to knock yourself out with comments aplenty (that means both of you). First, Olmert confirms the building of 750 new settlement homes:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has approved the renewed construction of hundreds of an estimated 750 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze'ev near Jerusalem, the Housing Ministry said Sunday.

The project approved for the Agan Ayelot neighborhood of Givat Ze'ev drew criticism from the Palestinian Authority over Israel's commitment to the peace process.

The prime minister's spokesman said the project was in line with the state's current policy on construction in existing settlements.

"The project was approved by previous governments, and Olmert approved its resumption because it meshes with government policy," he said.

"It is consistent with our long-standing position that building within the large settlement blocs, which will stay a part of Israel in any final status agreement, will continue," Regev said. "Construction outside the settlement blocs has been frozen."

News that is sure to calm tensions in the region.

Second, can you hear the faint beating of drums?? Here commenceth a smear campaign as a prelude to further threats against Iran:

Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim has accused the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog of acting as an agent for Iran and of allowing the Islamic Republic to proceed with its uranium enrichment without international intervention.

"When you examine his behaviour you cannot but reach the conclusion that he is a sort of planted agent ... who has served well the interests of Iran," Boim, a member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party said in an interview Sunday with Channel One television.

Boim said ElBaradei had allowed Iran time to develop its nuclear bomb plans and that his decisions had thwarted international efforts to stop the Iranians.

"During his years as head of the agency, he has allowed it to be derelict in its duties and has allowed the Iranians to have probably the most important thing of all - time.

"His decisions, have many times been taken with a form of coordination with the Iranians and he has made it impossible to create a strong coalition which could stop Iran's uranium enrichment program," Boim said.

Did someone say "wacky conspiracy theory"??

Back to the peace process, and some predictable stalling by the Israeli government:

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday told visiting U.S. envoy James Jones that that the creation of a Palestinian state amid the current situation in the Gaza Strip and ongoing attacks on Israelis was not in line with Israel's security demands.

"Israel is obligated to respond to terror, and every process must offer a unilateral response to its security needs," said Livni. "The creation of a Palestinian state is not the required answer to Israel's security needs."

The foreign minister said a future Palestinian state must comprise officials "who want not only to live in peace with Israel, but are also able to fight terror and promise the realization of all of its security needs."

The Palestinians, of course, are not "obligated to respond to terror". Especially when over 100 Palestinians are killed (49 of which were civilians) by state terror tactics.

Finally, celebrity news. Goldie Hawn was at a charity fundraising dinner for the Jewish National Fund. The Jewish National Fund will only sell property to Jews, not Arabs:

Pro-Palestinian activists beating drums and blaring horns have protested a visit by Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn to an Israeli charity's fundraising dinner.

Around 150 demonstrators marched on Glasgow's Hilton hotel, where the actress was speaking to supporters of the Jewish National Fund.

The fund is Israel's main land distributor. But the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which organized the protest, believes it is a racist organization and criticized Hawn for lending her support.

Way to go Goldie.